Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Tale Of Two Executives

Yesterday, I discussed Barack Obama, who isn't really an executive, but he plays one on TV. Today, given the Gulf spill, I want to talk about a real executive--Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana. Tapped to deliver the Republican response to Obama's first State of the Union address, Jindal gave a less than inspired performance.

I predicted that given his bona fides and drive to succeed rather than to win, Jindal would recover and go on to a notable career in government. The past few weeks have proven me right. While Obama was speechifying, Jindal was acting. While Obama was golfing, Jindal was working. While Obama was glorifying the efficiency of the federal government, Jindal was organizing and putting real people on the front lines of the disaster. While Obama was golfing, Jindal was working into the wee hours. While Obama was golfing, Jindal was rolling up his sleeves and helping his fellow citizens. While Obama was golfing, well, you get the idea.

Many Republicans gave up on Jindal far too easily after the State of the Union debacle, and the Democrats counted him down and out. Both forget that Bill Clinton first burst on the national scene by giving one of the lengthiest, one of the worst, and one of the least remembered keynote addresses in the entire history of the Democratic Party. Since that ho-hum performance, Jindal has gone on to be one of the most successful state chief executives in Louisiana history. He knows when to fight, and he knows when a losing battle is just a losing battle. But the reaction to the Gulf oil spill has been a dramatic contrast between the empty suit in the White House and the dynamo in the Louisiana state house.

Louisiana politics were a Democratic-controlled showplace of hopeless incompetence and corruption even before Katrina exposed the cancer. The Democratic mayor of New Orleans ignored Bush administration warnings about the lack of preparedness for a serious hurricane, and when Katrina hit, he had totally failed to activate local resources in advance of the floods. Afterwards, he made Obama-like speeches while waiting for the feds to bail him out, all the while blaming Bush for his own failures. The Democratic governor agonized, whined and cried like a baby when Katrina hit, but was so busy boo-hooing that she neglected to declare the state of emergency which would have allowed the Bush administration to act in accord with the Constitution.

In total contrast, when the Gulf spill first occurred, Jindal mobilized his emergency management team, got all his state resources in place at the sites of the coming oil slick, and at the very first opportunity declared an emergency that would allow the federal government to act without an unconstitutional invasion of a sovereign state.

Prior to the BP spill but after Katrina, and unlike the former New Orleans mayor and former Louisiana governor, Jindal was able to get the recovery in New Orleans moving, requesting federal assistance only in those areas where state resources were already exhausted or unavailable. In the wake of the economic crash, he pulled Louisiana unemployment below the national average, even though Louisiana under Democratic governments had for decades been well above the national average even during boom times.

Jindal used his power and considerable intelligence to build Louisiana's energy-production sector. That was a major part of Louisiana's economic recovery which was occurring faster than in most other states. And oil was a major part of that recovery. In reaction to the Gulf spill, Jindal garnered his resources and prepared to fend off the encroaching oil. Oil doesn't kill economies, people kill economies. Obama and his gang of econuts and socialists saw things differently. So they imposed a moratorium on all Gulf oil production while they figured out how to make sure only America was permanently prevented from drilling in deep Gulf waters. Jindal worked for less dependence on foreign oil, Obama worked to assure nearly total reliance on foreign oil while his administration of Harry Potters wave their wands to create viable solar and wind energy sources.

If Jindal had shown the same fire and brimstone in his State of the Union reply as he did in attacking the moratorium, he might very well have become the Republican front-runner for President in 2012. But as Ecclesiastes tells us, there's a time and a season for everything. This is quickly becoming Jindal's time and season. While Obama and his Keystone Kops experts dithered, Jindal had early on proposed to dredge around the barrier islands and create berms to keep the spill from coming ashore. Many petro-engineers believe the plan might have worked, but even if it were only partially successful, it's better than anything the Obamists came up with. The problem was that Louisiana doesn't have enough machinery and manpower to mount such an effort on its own. The federal government did, but refused to consider the plan.

In actuality, Jindal had to fight to get the Obama administration to allow him to use state workers and equipment in waters beyond Louisiana jurisdiction. By the time permission was granted, it was too late. The oil was already washing up on Louisiana's coast. But at least Jindal had people on the beaches ready to do whatever could be done to minimize the damage. Meanwhile, Jindal had gone to court to stop the bureaucratic imposition of a moratorium which would deeply wound Louisiana's economy already being damaged by the oil coming ashore. He won, but the Obamists did an end-run and imposed a moratorium anyway.

Jindal addressed his troops (real and metaphorical): "We don't have time for meetings. We don't have time for red tape and bureaucracy. We're literally in a war to save our coast. Every hour matters. Every day matters." It was downright Churchillian. Later, Jindal attended a rally of support for Gulf oil workers now put out of work by the moratorium, and spoke boldly at the rally. "I want to send a clear message to Washington, DC. Our people don't want a BP check, our people don't want an unemployment check, our people want this arbitrary moratorium to end so they can get back to work." Well, there's a novel concept. Working instead of waiting for handouts from the government and money damages from a corporation. It sounds to me a lot like throwing down the gauntlet.

While Obama alternates between vacations and his permanent campaign, Jindal concentrates on doing the very best job he can in his current position and giving little thought to the next election or the one after that. Jindal is a powerful intellect, with real, public and provable academic credentials that make Obama look like he went to a rural junior college. He wasn't much more than a kid when he was given major executive responsibilities. At age 25, Jindal was made the head of Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals. He took a bankrupt, incompetent and even dangerous medical service and turned it into an efficient and modern health care system. At age 28, after successfully putting together a profitable plan for Louisiana's use of federal tobacco settlement funds, Jindal was appointed the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana system. Academic performance at the University increased dramatically.

In 2000, Jindal was appointed by President George Bush to be the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation, and he was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate in 2001. By age 30, Jindal already had three times the executive experience that Obama has today. And that doesn't include his current service as governor.

The difference in executive experience and understanding of the requirements of the job show up like a neon sign on Broadway. The BP spill put their names up in lights. Jindal jumped in, ordered, delegated, and acted quickly and efficiently in regard to the Gulf. Obama proved he is OK at golf.


Tennessee Jed said...

I've heard the sitcom "Obama" will probably be cancelled once the already committed to episodes reach conclusion in 2012. I don't watch that show, but hear it is already playing re-runs. I think the show was based on the Jim Cary movie, "Liar, Liar," if I correctly recall.

Jindal has no credibility ever since "America's Anchorman" Chris Matthews cleaned off his leg and snickered at Governor Jindal as he was getting ready to give a GOP response to the S.O.T.U. Oh, wait . . . . nobody watches that show. Sorry Governor, never mind. LOL ;-))

StanH said...

Jindal is indeed an impressive man, and one to watch. Whether or not he can win the popularity contest that is a presidential race, that is the $64.00 question.

Joel Farnham said...

I am impressed with Jindal.

BevfromNYC said...

Jindal can win a popularity contest. He is a very impressive man who when given the opportunity to advance quickly on the national stage showed his intelligence AND political savvy by sticking with Louisiana. He was on the short list to run with McCain, but had his name removed because he had made a promise to the people of Louisiana. And I think he was politically savvy enough to see that it wasn't his time yet. He knows he has time to advance and will.

He is making a name for himself by being the best executive he can be. Rather than running from photo op to photo op, he is working for his state. I think he will stick with Louisiana for a least another term. He is up for reelection in 2012, so if he is wise, he will use his success in Louisiana to show everyone that he is ready for primetime. But if it looks like Obama will be challenged in 2012 as we all hope, Jindal may ramp up and run.

AndrewPrice said...

Good point about his speech compared to Clinton. I remember watching Clinton's speech thinking, wow, who the heck thought this was a good idea? And of course, he turned it around by changing his speaking style.

Jindal is a truly competent governor and would make an excellent President. The real question though, is can he get the popularity he needs in the rest of the country?

Anonymous said...

Tennessee: The "Obama Show" has two years to run, but my inside sources tell me that the supporting cast that plays the Congress will be seriously juggled this fall.

Anonymous said...

Stan: I agree that it's far too early to be handicapping the candidates. For one thing, Jindal already has so many accomplishments under his belt that I forget how young he is. He has years in the public eye ahead of him. He's dedicated to making Louisiana a success, and with the current crisis, that may take longer than his first term as governor allows.

On the other hand, his academic credentials are flawless, he is a policy wonk without the wonkishness, he really relates well to people across all political and social strata, entirely lacks pretentiousness, and does a yeomanlike job of finishing what he starts. He would eat Obama alive in a debate, and he doesn't back down from a fight. His youth would counter Obama's youthful callowness, and even though this shouldn't be an issue (Obama revivified it), he can't be accused of being another old, white Republican. Obama was raised a Muslim but claims he's now a Christian (though there's bloody little evidence of it), while Jindal was born a Hindu, but openly converted to Catholicism and attends Mass almost every Sunday. It would certainly be an interesting matchup.

Anonymous said...

Joel: As am I, obviously. He is clearly one of my early favorites, though much can happen between now and 2012. He's a down-to-earth intellectual, a rarity these days. As the Gulf disaster shows, Obama is all show and no go, while Jindal is very little show and a lot of go.

Anonymous said...

Bev: Quite accurate. That goes along with my contention that whenever possible, Jindal makes reasonable commitments then sticks to them until they're finished or far enough along to pass the torch to someone else. He's willing to take a risk, but not willing to commit political suicide, and for those two reasons, took his name out of contention for McCain's running-mate.

If Jindal is himself personally convinced that his plans to revitalize Louisiana can go on without him, and all the other factors go his way, he would probably consider a run for the presidency. If not, his track record says he'll stay with the unfinished job until it's done and consider a presidential run later. As you and I have both said, Jindal works for accomplishment, not for talking points for the next election.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: Jindal has not shot for personal popularity, to his credit. But we both know that it's a vital necessity in politics beyond the local scene. From what I've seen and read, Jindal wins people of all backgrounds over very quickly. He's likable while Obama is aloof. He's an extremely intelligent man who, unlike Obama and his claque, feels no need to trot out phony academic credentials. He just talks to people in plain English. And you have to admit, there's something very charming about listening to a guy who should sound like Gandhi but actually sounds like an average guy from the urban South.

Ironically, he lost his first bid for governor of Lousiana to a Democrat named Blanco ("white" in Spanish) who used back door dirty politics to paint Jindal as "not looking like us." Sound familiar? After Katrina, Lousiana saw a man who could do the job, and do it well rather than a dark-skinned "other." That's a victory for Jindal, but more importantly a victory for the post-racialism that Obama has falsely claimed to believe in.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--Piyush Amrit "Bobby" Jindal. That should trump Barack Hussein Obama for exotic sound any day in the week. Now, Barry, tell us that Republicans only elect people who look and sound like average white people. I love it!

Anonymous said...

HamiltonsGhost: That's very funny, and many a true word is said in jest. And I don't see Jindal campaigning in areas with high Indian-American populations while loftily demagoging his ethnic heritage by saying "I want to be President of all Americans, not just Indian-Americans (wink, wink)." I can't wait to see if Biden gets out on the hustings and starts talking about 7-11 owners.

Unknown said...

LawHawk. Obama and his sycophants were big on talking about "firsts." His big first was being the first president elected with no track record, no executive experience, and no qualifications other than being the first black candidate. Well, Jindal was the first non-white governor of Louisiana, the first Indian-American Member of Congress from Louisiana, and the first Indian-American governor of any State in American history. Now THOSE are firsts. Each time, his credentials and his paper trail were on full display for everyone to see. We still don't know anything worth knowing about Obama's "firsts."

Anonymous said...

CalFed: How about those academic credentials that the Obamists love to throw around? Obama mysteriously went from a third-tier west coast university to ivy league Columbia with no visible academic record. Then he became a Harvard Law Review editor without publishing a single article. Then he became what is comparable to a full professor of law at the University of Chicago law school, again with no record and nobody remembering anything he taught about constitutional law. All those non-records are supposed to convince us that he's some kind of intellectual giant.

Meanwhile, back at the Jindal ranch, Jindal has an academic record that is both public and terribly enviable. He graduated from ivy league Brown University with honors. He was offered full scholarships to both Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, based on his public academic record. He decided against taking either scholarship, and instead chose to obtain a Masters Degree in literature from the University of Oxford in England. He was then offered a scholarship to pursue a PhD in political science, but chose instead to go into practical business, followed by a career in public service. This is all highly-visible public record. So if Obama were to try to pull the fake intellectual snobbery bit that they pulled last time, it would fall flat on its face. Jindal could beat Obama to death with real academic credentials and achievement.

And Jindal managed to do it all without any help from or backroom maneuvering by famous academics who emerged from the Weather Underground or the Communist Party.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--There was a big difference in the way Obama and Jindal looked at the people behind the spill as well. Obama, being a complete dolt and a tool of the left, simply shut down offshore drilling and used the usual blanket condemnation of "big corporations." Jindal looked at BP as the only corporation involved rather than attack corporations and big business generally. Jindal was not kind to BP, but he didn't use it as an opportunity to demagogue all corporations. And unlike Obama, Jindal could see the mistakes the feds made as well. Another difference between a seasoned, intelligent executive and a sock puppet president.

Anonymous said...

HamiltonsGhost: It's an indication of the difference between a man who can make serious, fast, and accurate analyses of difficult situations, determine what went wrong, who made the mistakes, and then act on it (Jindal), and a leader who can't lead and a thinker who can't think (Obama). Obama is the glorification of form over substance. Jindal has both form and substance.

Libertarian Advocate said...

I'm waiting in the wings to go all out for Jindal when and if he runs. From what I'm reading here, it seems I'm not alone in that.

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