Megan McArdle's Jindalmania
Megan McArdle wrote a follow up post to her original Jindalmania piece. Both posts were originally writen last year.
But once you're past that, well, the guy just has skills. His message, like Obama's, is one of hope and actual change; he tends to emphasize the work he's done reforming Louisiana's notoriously corrupt political culture. And like Obama, he has the charisma to put it over. Nearly all prominent politicians are extremely charismatic. Being in a room with them is like being in a room with the sun; you can't really look anywhere else. But some have it more than others, and Jindal has a lot of it.
He's also a really good political organizer, which is how a Republican carries Louisiana (to be sure, the Democratic governor's monstrously incompetent performance during Hurricane Katrina helped quite a bit.) And on the other metrics by which Obama stands out--his academic chops, his meteoric rise--Jindal actually betters Obama. The guy was accepted to both Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, but decided to go for a political career, and accepted his Rhodes Scholarship instead. At 25 he was appointed Lousiana's Secretary of Health and Hospitals; at 28, he became the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana system.
McArdle comparing Jindal's political skills to Barack Obama's takes nerve. Unpopular incumbant Kathleen Blanco did not seek re-election, in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Jindal ran in a nonpartisan blanket primary against eleven opponents. Only two were Democrats. Walter Boasso and Foster Campbell did not hold a Congressional seat or previously run for Governor. Jindal has. Boasso switched from a Republican to Democrat because the Republican Party of Louisiana endorsed Jindal. Short answer: Jindal had an easy race after Blanco dropped out. Jindal won David Vitter's Congressional seat. The seat has been red since 1977.
Another fun fact: George W. Bush won Louisiana in 2000 and 2004. Jindal ran in 2003. Louisiana had a serving Republican Governor in Murphy J. Foster, Jr.. Blanco beat Jindal in 2003 52 percent to 48 percent. John McCain beat Obama in Louisiana by 58.6 percent to 39.9 percent.
Barack Obama raised a record 750 million for his presidential campaign. Obama beat Democratic superstar Hillary Clinton and former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards in the primary. Obama beat Republican media darling John McCain in the general election. McCain could have been elected president in 2000, if not for the smear campaign waged during the South Carolina primary.
How MrArdle can compare Obama's political savvy with Jindal's is beyond me? Jindal's Republican support is soft. Louisiana is not representative of the United States electorate. There is no evidence Jindal can raise cash or harness the power of the internet the way Obama did. I have already written about the highly negative reviews of Jindal's SOTU response. I get the feeling McArdle knows her "puppy love" crush bombed. There isn't a single post in McArdle's February 2009 archives about Bobby Jindal. The thing about puppy love crushes is they don't tend to last very long.
Personally, I have no respect for a blogger that would let FEMA off-the-hook for the Katrina response.
One interesting thing I learned is just how far Jindal has come in fighting Louisiana's institutional problems. Bush detractors get mad when I say this, but it really is true that the total ineptitude of the state and local governments was a major reason that things went so tragically wrong during Katrina. FEMA is a small agency with a few thousand employees; it is a funding mechanism for recovery efforts, not some sort of Super EMT Squad. FEMA does well in states that have competent and responsive government agencies, and not so well in places that don't. (The staggering incompetence of rebuilding efforts is another rant--but also, a symptom of broader government problems rather than necessarily something specific to FEMA. But then as I say, that's another rant.)
Blanco's response was inexcusable. Is McArdle aware the New Orleans levees are a federal project under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? In Augest 2008, the Bush administration did not finish repairing the levees.
In the Youtube video below: Homeland Security Director makes the insane argument he based his Katrina response on newspaper headlines. I feel better if the Chertoff knew more about disasters then the media.
Chertoff: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" -- was based on news reports from the morning after the storm indicating that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet."
The newspaper headlines from August 29th, 2005 reported Katrina badly damaging New Orleans. The Grenada, Mississippi Daily Star is the only newspaper to use the phrase "dodged a bullet." Is this where the Bush administration gets all it's news?