Bobby Jindal, the young, reformist governor of Louisiana gave the Republican response to Barrack Osama’s address to a joint session of Congress. What resulted was an at times awkward presentation of sound, conservative principles.
Bobby Jindal, in giving the Republican response, could not hope to match the majesty of Barack Obama’s speech. Obama had the setting of the halls of Congress with a crowd, which, for the most part, could be reliably counted upon to cheer at all of the good lines. Bobby Jindal, in giving the Republican response, had a nice, well appointed room in the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge and no crowd.
The Republican response was Bobby Jindal’s first national speech and, unfortunately, it showed in a somewhat uneven delivery. Fortunately the substance overcame the rhetorical short comings.
While Barack Obama touted the virtues of big government, Bobby Jindal had a folksy story that Ronald Reagan would have been proud to have told, illustrating the dangers of big government.
“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.”
In other words, do you really want the same government that botched Katrina to run your schools, your health care, and everything else Barack Obama wants?
Bobby Jindal went on to lay out the case for a Republican, conservative approach to dealing with the current crisis. That approach includes tax cuts, empowering business, keeping government’s hands off health care, and school choice. Bobby Jindal also had another dig at Barack Obama.
“Last year, we passed some of the strongest ethics laws in the nation — and today, Louisiana has turned her back on the corruption of the past. We need to bring transparency to Washington, D.C. — so we can rid our Capitol of corruption and ensure we never see the passage of another trillion-dollar spending bill that Congress has not even read and the American people haven’t even seen.”
In one paragraph, Bobby Jindal reminded everyone that Barack Obama’s soaring rhetoric doesn’t always match reality.
While giving a mea culpa for Republicans for not always living up to small government principles, Bobby Jindal framed the terms of the debate over the role of government.
“In the end, it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government. We oppose the national Democrats’ view that says — the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, and empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and create jobs.”
A powerful and cogent message, that.
Source: Full text of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Republican response, LA Times, Feburary 24th, 2009