Thank You, Governor Jindal!


  By  Kollengode  S  Venkataraman  — Published in April 2009

Given the partisanship among the members of Congress, talking heads and punditocrats, we need to take it seriously when Democrats and Republicans agree on anything. That is what happened on February 24 when the talking heads started billowing their opinions on TV moments after Louisiana’s GOP Governor Bobby Jindal ended his response to President Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress. These were the captions to news stories the next morning:  

New York Times: Governor Jindal, Rising G.O.P. Star, Plummets After Speech

Washington Post:Republicans, Democrats Criticize Jindal’s speech

Washington Post’s’ Media Notes: How bad was Jindal?

Los Angeles Times:  GOP not pleased with Jindal’s speech

AP’s Beth Fouhy: Republicans, Democrats criticize Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech on style and substance

Chris Mathew, a liberal, on MSNBC muttered “Oh God!” as Jindal strode into his microphone from his ornate governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge. A blogger on Wonkette.com gave an Indian twist in jest: 

“Oh Ganesha!” But among Jindal’s detractors were David Brooks of New York Times, Brit Hume of Fox, and Charles Krauthammer of Washington Post, all Conservatives. Only Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were defending Gov. Jindal.

As an Indian-American, I am not at all unhappy at the whacking Gov. Jindal received. He is a Brown University graduate (biology major), and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. He got admission into Harvard med school, which he did not pursue. With this background, as governor, he signed a bill that allows teaching of the Biblical story of creation (according to which the universe is only 6000 years old) in science classes in schools in Louisiana.

In his GOP response to Obama’s address Gov. Jindal said this on the federal government spending the $140 million for volcano monitoring: “Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.” Commentators berated Jindal right away on how he would have responded if the money went for hurricane monitoring systems along the Louisiana Coast.

For a man of his upbringing and high quality education, Jindal is appallingly ignorant in his understanding of this vast nation’s metropolitan areas precariously tied to the vagaries of geography — earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, snow storms… …

After his state using all the resources of FEMA including the US military and the billions of federal money for Katrina relief, Jindal said this: “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…. …

“There’s a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and the enterprising spirit of our citizens.” And then this doublespeak: “We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from across the nation for our ongoing recovery efforts. This spirit got Louisiana through the hurricanes, and this spirit will get our nation through the storms we face today.” 

Gov. Jindal believes that society can manage the rescue efforts for a Katrina-type hurricane with human and material resources entirely from volunteer efforts of citizenry alone. Does Jindal really believe New Orleans could have managed the social and material wreckage of Katrina without tax-payer funded FEMA coming to the rescue? If he does, he needs to grow up quite a bit before dreaming himself standing at the portals of the White House as a future occupant.

I, for one, am glad that not only he was berated by both the liberals and conservatives, but also ridiculed in late-night comedy shows. 

One hopes Jindal does not represent the mindset of the thousands of children of Indian immigrants born and raised in the US in cozy middle-class Indian homes. If he does, that should scare all of us. — END

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