WRITER'S BLOCK: Louisiana’s governor gets last word in Obama speech

Michael Tortorich
Michael Tortorich is a reporter for The Gonzales Weekly Citizen. He can be reached at reporter1 @

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be in the national spotlight Feb. 24 when he delivers the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s first speech to Congress.

Jindal will give the national GOP response from Baton Rouge immediately following the speech.

Just as Obama rose to political stardom as a Democrat, Republicans are putting their young, charismatic rising star up to bat on the national stage.

The speech should draw considerable attention since it will be an opportunity to hear from Obama on his accomplishments since becoming president. With the added attention, the Republicans are sending in their up-and-coming slugger in Jindal.

The GOP’s choice of Jindal only further fuels the fire of a potential run for the presidency in the future. Jindal’s name has been mentioned as a Republican hopeful in 2012, and also further down the line in 2016. Considering that Jindal has said he plans to keep his job as governor of Louisiana, a run in 2016 may not be out of the question.

A strong first term by Obama and a run for re-election could pit him against Jindal in 2012. After a second term for Obama, the 2016 election would be wide open, and perhaps by then, the country may be ready to vote in a Republican.

Of course all of this speculation is looking far ahead. But that may be precisely what the Republicans are doing with Jindal.

Just as Obama broke through the proverbial glass ceiling to become the nation’s first black president, Jindal has the potential for a breakthrough of his own as the first Indian-American to hold the office.

Then there is always the possibility of bringing John McCain’s 2008 running mate, Sarah Palin, on the ticket along with Jindal. In that case, it would include the first woman as well.

Fantasy tickets aside, the task at hand for Jindal is his performance come Tuesday. He will have the attention of millions, and with this speech, he officially enters the big league.

The national attention will only intensify for Jindal now. Media from around the country will focus on his every move as governor of the Pelican State. In many ways his work as governor will serve as an audition to make it to the national level.

National politics aside, there is still plenty of work to be done in Louisiana. Any improvement he brings to the state certainly will not go unnoticed to the nation at large.

If Jindal plans on making a run for the presidency, he doesn’t have to do it on swagger and charisma alone. He can prove himself by turning around a state notorious for being a bottom dweller in many aspects.

The budget in Louisiana has seen better days and every day the economy is taking its lumps. There is plenty of work to be done.

Jindal has proven before he can bounce back, just as he rebounded from his loss to Kathleen Blanco in his first run for governor. If he can improve Louisiana and continue his rise on the national scene, Jindal may be able to take Obama’s job one day.