I don’t know for whom to feel sorrier: Bobby Jindal or me. Governor Jindal is considered one of the rising stars of the Republican Party, and all us evil rethugs had high hopes for his response to President Obama’s address before Congress. But alas, the American Cicero is a hard act to follow.
Mr. Obama really does hit all the right notes. He’s sincere and serious as a President should be, and yet injects those endearing notes of humor just like Reagan used to, and with just as good effect. Even with the backdrop of Nancy Pelosi jumping up like a jack-in-the-box every thirty seconds to begin a standing ovation for which everyone else then had to haul themselves to their feet, President Obama still came off wonderfully well, and I got that old feeling, that old Bill Clinton feeling, viz., wishing like hell that guy was on my side.
The only time the Obama Magic didn’t work was when he had the audacity (of hope?) to say that he would not saddle our children with a debt they can’t pay. If I’d been drinking something, I’d have spit it all over myself. Afraid the barn door’s already wide open on that one, Cicero. Almost as if he realized how asinine it sounded, and needing to deflect attention from the massive Congressional shopping spree for which he’d just signed the national Am Ex bill, he made pointed reference to the deficits his administration had inherited.
Then Mr. Fiscal Responsibility vowed again to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term. Sounds good, I’m sure, to the Obama Mama who turned off American Idol long enough to watch the speech, but let’s take a closer look. He’s going to cut the deficit, not the debt. That means the government will still spend more than it takes in each year, and the debt will continue to climb. And he’s going to cut it in half. Half of a huge number is still a huge number. Finally, he’s going to cut it in half by the end of his term. That’s four years from now, so presumably for the next three years, Harry and Nancy’s spending spree can continue.
Ciceronian style or no Ciceronian style, that was plenty of material for Bobby Jindal to work with. But instead he told folksy stories about his dad in the grocery store and a sheriff trying to rescue people during Hurricane Katrina. I agreed with everything Jindal said — about how Democrats and Republicans have an honest and fundamental disagreement about the the role of government, about how Republicans have lost their way and haven’t stuck to their principles — but it was the way he said it that left me cold. I think he’s a good governor and a smart guy, and would make a swell candidate for President if we didn’t happen to live in the Age of TV. But we do, and let’s face it, folks: Abe Lincoln would get his stovepipe hat handed to him if he was around and running for the top job today.
Being smart, capable, honest and right on the issues just isn’t enough anymore. The GOP needs somebody who can beat the American Cicero at his own game, and we have less than three years to find him.
Update: other blog reactions — Michelle Malkin is doing damage control, said he didn’t do so bad. Ace thinks he came off like an earnest dork. Allahpundit gives thumbs down too. Anchoress is writing about Ash Wednesday instead, and admitting she misses Bush (check out the photo; he actually looks kinda good that way). I’m still waiting for the Iowahawk parody. While over there looking, I found the first serious post I’ve ever seen on his blog. It’s a sad one, and well worth a look.
Much speculation among conservative bloggers this fine day on whether it was Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann who groaned, “Oh, God,” when Jindal appeared. I wouldn’t be all that surprised either way, but my money’s on Olbermann. Now if it had been someone moaning “Oh, God,” when Obama appeared, I’d be betting the other way.