Democracy Soup

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Bobby Jindal’s packaging may be different, but still peddling same GOP crap

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Originally published on on Wed, 02/25/2009 – 11:12am

Rachel Maddow was speechless after Bobby Jindal’s Republican response.

Bobby Jindal tried to portray a different picture of the Republican Party. He used phrases that sounded similar to things Barack Obama has said. Jindal spoke of the story about the American dream: “Americans can do anything.” And since we are talking about the superficiality of the experience, Jindal did deviate from the traditional white shirt and solid color tie (Republican red).

Unfortuantely for Jindal, those were the highlights of the speech. David Brooks, noted conservative, thought Jindal’s response was “just a disaster for the Republican Party.” Rachel Maddow, one of the most eloquent voices on television, was left uttering gibberish, feeling speechless in her initial reaction.

The “highlight” (well, highlight for the rest of us) was Jindal’s isolation of the government’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina:

“Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina — we have our doubts.”

Jindal proceeded to tell the story of a discussion with the long-time Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, Harry Lee. It’s a pretty powerful story: Lee is yelling at someone on the phone, trying to get permission to send out boats to rescue people trapped on rooftops.

“He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go, when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn’t go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, “Sheriff, that’s ridiculous.” And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: “Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!” Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and go start rescuing people.”

If we could accept that at face value, this might send a message. But as Jindal is about to discover, while the MSM will likely not blink an eye at that story, Internet journalism takes a different vantage point.

The Daily Kos has been looking into whether the story is valid. Parts of it are likely true, but there is some question as to whether it happened the way Jindal said. Lee died in 2007, so we can’t ask him. And Lee’s racist background doesn’t make the story sound that much better.

And even if the story is 100% true, it’s difficult to believe that all around FEMA and the federal government response was so underwhelming, yet a bureaucrat would be that stifling in a time of emergency. If all of this is true, the words came from a flunky in the spirit of “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie” that prevailed under George W. Bush.

You can assume Jindal’s focus is on the federal government in the story because he would have blamed it on the state government if it were true. And all that means is that the Bush people did a lousy job when they were actually trying to do their job.

During Hurricane Katrina, Republicans worked really hard to take advantage of the disaster to gain politicically. Conveniently, state government was blamed, but magically not the federal government. After all, the governor at that time was Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat. This is not to say there was no blame on the state level, but it paled in comparison to the disaster on the federal level.

The fact that a number of registered Democrats were bussed out of the state with no practical shot of returning to where they used to live was also something that Republicans used to their advantage. Fewer Democrats in the state means more electoral wins for Republicans.

And which politician has benefited the most from this political strategy? Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. After all, Jindal ran for governor in 2003 and lost to Blanco. With Blanco retiring from politics, in part due to the firestorm of controversy launched in part by Republicans, Jindal had a much easier time in the 2007 governor race.

Of course, the federal government couldn’t be blamed (according to Jindal) for Katrina because, wait for it, Jindal was a Congressman at the time. His district included parts of New Orleans and its western suburbs.

If you weren’t done yelling at the TV screen following the concept that the government’s response to Katrina (GOP) is a reason not to trust the federal government (which Jindal wants returned to the GOP), there were more golden moments.

Jindal started four paragraphs in a row with the phrase “To strengthen our economy,” but here were the “solutions.”

“increase conservation, increase energy efficiency, increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels, increase our use of nuclear power, and increase drilling for oil and gas here at home.”

Republicans haven’t been and aren’t for increasing conservation or energy efficiency, and haven’t supported alternative and renewable fuels. They are in favor of more nuclear power, despite the high risk and non-solutions for dealing with nuclear waste. Even if we did drill more domestically, the results would be drops in a large bucket.

“Republicans believe in a simple principle: No American should have to worry about losing their health coverage — period. We stand for universal access to affordable health care coverage.”

This would be news if a) it were true, and b) they had a solution. There were Republicans watching the speech who asked the TV, “Republicans care about health care? Really?”

“After Katrina, we reinvented the New Orleans school system, opening dozens of new charter schools, and creating a new scholarship program that is giving parents the chance to send their children to private or parochial schools of their choice.”

This was another situation where Republicans took political advantage at the expense of those who suffered in Katrina. Even if you argue that charter schools could be part of the solution, it’s not the whole solution by any means. And as our friend Greg Palast points out, Louisiana is suffering so far down on the scale that spending money on charter schools seems misguided. Palast points out that Louisiana has the 3rd-worst poverty rate, 5th-worst mark for math scores, 5th-worst in per-capita incomes, yet number 1 in infant mortality rates.

“we must promote confidence in America by ensuring ours is the most ethical and transparent system in the world.”

Uh, you do realize you’re a Republican, right? If Jindal really wanted to promote this, he did have the opportunity as a Congressman to do so, but didn’t. Only after Barack Obama campaigned and won (and delivered) on this item is there now “concern” about ethics and transparency.

Jindal is a Rhodes Scholar, he is of Indian descent, and even younger than Obama. So the Republican Party, seeing what Obama did, is trying to duplicate the results. But what the GOP and its followers don’t realize is that people admire Obama not for what he looks like, but who he is on the inside. The same old tired rhetoric (tax cuts? really?) with prettier packaging is not what the American people want — or deserve. They want substance, and they saw what Jindal was peddling last night, and they said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Full transcript from Jindal’s speech


Written by democracysoup

February 25, 2009 at 11:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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