Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scratch Jindal from the List

Well, at least now we know where not to place our hopes for a GOP answer to Barack Obama in 2012. After President Obama's speech before the joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal stepped into the bright and unflattering light of national public scrutiny and made it helpfully clear that he is nowhere near ready for the highest office, and perhaps never will be.

Here is David Brooks's take.

Nicole Gelinas at City Journal has this to say in "Jindal's Missed Opportunity."

Harold adds:

Hold on there partner. Way too early to scratch Jindal. Nicole Gelinas's experise, and it truly is expert, is financial and economic. David Brooks went over to the dark side many moons ago, and is only correct as often, and for the same reason, as a stopped clock. To listen to these two--and a host of other progressive "conservatives" who so want to be included by the cool kids in DC, is to buy into the prevailing sentiment that the way something is said is far more important than what is said. Obama delivered a soothing imitation of a rationally prudent and pragmatic leader offering a program to address the "crisis". (I submit the main crisis is the wholesale government takeover of American life, establishing soul-killing socialism for generations if not forever.) But his words belie his intent--he is not going to waste this "crisis", and his cool rhetoric is like the spoonful of sugar helping the socialist medicine to go down. If Jindal stumbled a bit on his freshman outing, so what? Are we mistaking speech for action? Remember how Clinton used to announce some policy goal, and then act as if the work were done, problem solved? Jindal is only 37; in his remaining time as governor (which is likely to run two terms) he will make Louisiana one of the bright spots in the nation with his tax cuts and regulatory reforms. Standing in an empty hall in front of a camera crew responding to the One in the conspicuous splendor of the House of Representatives and in front of a partisan audience is a gauranteed second place finish, especially when the MSM can be counted on to discount the Republican response no matter what--even before the fact. The "we want to be cool too" Republicans are not helping by assuming the whole of the Democrat critique and taking it on as their own, albeit in a slightly modified form. If style is the only or even the main criteria, we are vulnerable to demagoguery in a way we have not previously seen. Jindal will get better--in fact has been better many times--and will be around as a leading voice for conservatism for decades. I am not dismayed by his bobbling the ball on this play--the game is not over.

David adds in turn:

Harold, after I read your helpful post on Beirut (and, with the news of Hitchens getting a beating, a concerning one), I wondered if I would also find a rejoinder from you to my Jindal post. You did not disappoint.

I can't say you're wrong. I can only say that I'm skeptical.

If he's a learner with uncultivated native ability, I'll be thrilled. But what he needs to learn is the art of rhetoric. Of course you are right that the way something is said is not more important than the way it is said. But what a political leader says gets lost and even distorted if he doesn't master the art of presentation. That includes prudently applying his principles in view of his particular circumstances and audience so that his audience--those he wants to elect him--will embrace the wisdom of those principles. I think he missed on both scores. But we are agreed in hoping that he will grow in office.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rhetoric and speaking ability can be developed. You can bet that Obama wasn't very good at any political skills as a high school 10th grader.

It is crushingly disappointing to see that Jindal has so very far to go. A President of the USA *must* be in total command of rhetoric and appearance in front of the camera. Jindal clearly has a minimum of eight years before he could ever be ready to run for the Presidency. (Sarah Palin on the other hand is at a minimum of four years away... maybe eight as well...)

These two bright young conservative lights have a LOT to learn to step up to the national plate, and I hope they're out there lernin!

Mike Devx