Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rescuing Bobby Jindal From Media Floodwaters

As I'm sure you've heard, read, or seen by now, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivered a disastrous nationally televised speech in response to President Obama's first address to Congress. In what has become a media feeding frenzy, different aspects of Governor Jindal's speech have been picked apart and for additional comedic value or because it appears as though Jindal made various misleading distortions over the course of his speech. Meanwhile, Jindal's crack communications squad has reacted poorly to the various controversies by struggling to provide basic and consistent explanations to fairly fundamental media queries.

While I believe that there are more consequential lies within the speech delivered on Tuesday, the mainstream media has been particularly nosy about the story Jindal told about his presence in Sheriff Harry Lee's office during Katrina because it appears that the Governor made up the whole thing. His office basically admitted as much but has since changed their story several times since Wednesday. What could have been spun as an inconsequential exaggeration and immediately buried with little egg on the face has instead morphed into a week-long controversy that continues to undermine the governor's basic credibility as a professional.

I became extremely frustrated yesterday by the media's fixation on the Harry Lee lie, especially since I thought that his ridiculous distortion of the state of education in New Orleans, his inexplicable condemnation of volcano monitoring funds, and his hypocritical invocation of the nonexistent funding for a train from Las Vegas to Anaheim were several times more outrageous than the fibs used to embellish a largely tangential story.

But that's how it works. And besides, I've got some major news to break. I have obtained a copy of an alternative speech that Governor Jindal wrote instead of the now infamous McBreyer address. This version was ultimately rejected by Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell and Communications Director Melissa Sellers at the 11th hour. My highly trained show falcons retrieved the speech from dumpsters outside the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge. Much of the speech - congratulating Obama while highlighting his own biography - is the same. The middle part of the speech, however, is drastically different. I've provided the relevant clip from the original transcript and the rejected alternative follows below:

Republicans are ready to work with the new President to provide those solutions. Here in my state of Louisiana, we don't care what party you belong to if you have good ideas to make life better for our people. We need more of that attitude from both Democrats and Republicans in our nation's capital. All of us want our economy to recover and our nation to prosper. So where we agree, Republicans must be the President's strongest partners. And where we disagree, Republicans have a responsibility to be candid and offer better ideas for a path forward.

Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us.

Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts.

Let me tell you a story.

During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I'd never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: 'Well, I'm the Sheriff and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me!' I asked him: 'Sheriff, what's got you so mad?' 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 start rescuing people.

There is a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens. We are grateful for the support we have received from across the nation for the ongoing recovery efforts. This spirit got Louisiana through the hurricanes - and this spirit will get our nation through the storms we face today.

To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians. The way to lead is by empowering you - the American people. Because we believe that Americans can do anything.


And here is the alternative that got tossed just hours before the cameras went live:

Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us. Because of how poorly the last Republican administration went about the business of governing, Americans are intelligently looking to the Obama administration and the federal government for a different approach.

In reality, however, Americans aren't asking for that much. They're asking for a sleek, well-defined government capable of delivering basic services in an efficient, cost-conscious way. Conservatives like me believe that the best way to stimulate the economy is to streamline bloated federal bureaucracies and immediately pass the savings on to small businesses and individual Americans.

But we conservatives also understand why the Republican Party doesn't have your trust and I might have the best understanding of all.

You see, my state, Louisiana, was a tragic casualty of the last Republican administration's failed governance. I voted for the last President because I thought that he and his Congressional partners would halt self-perpetuating federal bureaucracies, cut spending, and pass the savings onto you. Instead, in attempting to untie the constraints of big government, the knot only got bigger and tighter. Instead of small government, what we got was bad government.

My fellow conservatives and I still believe in the strength of the individual and in the ideal of small government but what we must prove is that not only do we believe in effective government but we have a plan for delivering just that.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point.

During Hurricane Katrina, the federal government was no where to be found. Local and state bureaucracies were incapable of handling the fallout from the levee failures and the communicative disconnect between local and federal officials contributed to property loss, unnecessary suffering, and even the deaths of patriotic American citizens.

When push came to shove, it was the individual that saved the day. I look at the story of Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her family, the subjects of an academy award nominated documentary. When the flood waters were rising in her neighborhood, she looked after her neighbors as her husband Scott delivered them to high ground on nothing more than an old punching bag that was floating by. Then, she did what so many other patriots from Louisiana have done, she returned home with her family to help rebuild the community.

When you drive through New Orleans or around the areas most badly damaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike, it isn't the government that has come in to rebuild those areas. The real work has been done by individual citizens.

This underscores my commitment to conservative ideals. It is the strength of the American citizen that makes this country great not the size of our government.

But the story also offers a lesson that conservatives around the country must learn as I have - that we must have an efficient federal government and it must effectively deliver on what little it promises.

I opposed the stimulus bill not because I don't believe that the federal government has a role to play in rescuing us from these choppy financial waters. Rather, I opposed the stimulus bill because I believe that the borrow and spend policy is not the most effective way to reinvigorate the marketplace. Instead, by prudently cutting the bloated bureaucracies that contributed to the ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina, we can cut taxes to put money back in the pockets of working families.

I know that it may take time for the Republican party to earn credibility in the eyes of the American public. I know this because my home state and my home district were victimized by our own party's inability to resist the temptations of power. Governors and young congressmen have learned this lesson the hard way. That is why the Republican party is proud to present a new generation of leadership that understands the difference between small government and ineffective government. We will work to keep the Democratic majority honest by standing up for true conservative principles. If we succeed in helping Barack Obama streamline bloated bureaucracies we will have the credibility to argue for the savings to be passed onto you, the individual, instead of spend once more on creating yet another bloated bureaucracy.

...

Wouldn't that have been a way better argument for conservative ideals? Wouldn't that have been a better way to avoid substantive issues? Wouldn't that have avoided days and days of relentless ridicule?

It still distorts history and glosses inconvenient truths but sentences that come from the mouths of Republicans tend to do that - I'm just trying to stay true to the template.

How sad is it that someone who rejects conservative principles can write a better argument in favor of them than Melissa Sellers or Timmy Teepell?


--UPDATE--

Just obtained this email from Timmy Teepell to Ben Smith of Politico:

BS (as in Ben Smith),

Teeps here. You misinterpreted previous emails and phone calls from me and my colleague, the Selldawg. Please disregard and instead check out this liberal blogger BS (as in ?) from WCBF which explains exactly what the governor meant on Tuesday.

X's and O's,

T squared

Good times...

1 comment:

Ricardo said...

If that last e-mail is legit I would haveto say that Ben Smith is as much of a HACK as Bob Delgiorno or Robin Garlinette.