Jindal taking it on the chin
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took center stage for the Republican Party Tuesday night as he provided his party’s response to Democratic President Barack Obama’s speech.
Jindal’s nationally-televised debut was staged to propel him into the political spotlight just as Obama did as a relatively unknown Illinois senator in 2004.
Within only moments after both politicians towed their party lines, the score cards began rolling in from across the country. Naturally both parties sent out sparkling press releases to dazzle the media with swooning quotes fit for the back of a movie’s DVD case.
Obama was typically at ease at the podium, as many commentators noted. But the 37-year-old first-term governor from the Pelican State followed with a stilted speech that disappointed even traditionally conservative critics.
Jindal can and has done better. He is clearly an intelligent individual, which is evident in the rapid-fire unscripted speeches he has made throughout Louisiana before and after taking office as governor. Put a prepared speech in front of him and it drains the charisma that won over Louisiana voters.
“The speech read a lot better than it sounded,” Brit Hume said in a panel discussion broadcast on Fox News Channel. “This was not Bobby Jindal’s greatest oratorical moment.”
Other panelists described Jindal’s speech as amateurish, simplistic and almost childish.
They did preface by defending the governor, as he had an added degree of difficulty since he had no audience to work with as Obama did.
Some said Jindal seemed to perform a stand-up comedy routine at times, dusting off the old joke about how half of Louisiana is under water half the time and the other half is under indictment.
With plenty of negative commentary to go around, Jindal did hit on some good points. He did well in comparing his family’s immigration from India to Obama’s mixed ancestry. He also was wise to keep Louisiana’s past hurricanes in the national consciousness as the state continues to recover.
In sharing a bureaucratic run-in during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was able to smoothly segue into talking about solving the nation’s current problems.
He boldly called the $787 billion stimulus bill recently passed by Congress “irresponsible” though he avoided directly disapproving of Obama’s actions.
Jindal used his own state as an example. He pointed to earmark cuts in the Louisiana budget and tax cuts that were passed with Republicans and Democrats working together.
“If it can be done in Baton Rouge, surely it can be done in Washington, D.C.,” Jindal said.
The governor also fared admirably in admitting Republicans strayed away from their principals of limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibilty. On behalf of Congress and Republican governors, Jindal pledged to regaining trust and standing up for their principles.
Jindal concluded with reassurance. Though he admitted the nation’s troubles are real, he emphasized how the “American spirit has triumphed over almost every form of adversity known to man” and can triumph once again.
While it may be easy to beat up on Jindal after what can easily be categorized as a lackluster performance, bear in mind that the governor has been down before and has proven he can rally.
After a failed bid in the governor’s race in 2003, he went back to work and won convincingly in 2007.
Jindal may be down, but he’s certainly not out.