Politics & Media
Feb 25, 2009, 07:49AM

A reax of reaxes

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's speech has gone over like a lead balloon—with scorn and derision from the left and the right.

In his speech to the joint session of Congress last night, President Obama assured the country that he gets it. From the NYT:

After weeks of rather gloomy rhetoric, focused on pressuring Congress to agree to his stimulus plan, Mr. Obama struck a more optimistic, forward-leaning tone, promising that the country “will emerge stronger than before.”

At the same time, Mr. Obama associated himself with those exasperated with Wall Street titans and irresponsible homebuyers. He, too, is angry, he said.

Executives padding paychecks with taxpayer money? “Those days are over,” he declared.

Helping bankers who got everyone into this mess? “I promise you, I get it,” he said.

But Mr. Obama also reached for the same patriotic resonance that has sustained other presidents in bad times. “We are not quitters,” he proclaimed.

And, he argued, “we cannot afford to govern out of anger or yield to the politics of the moment.”

The public has been responding Obama's rhetoric and his actions. As I wrote yesterday, his numbers continue to stay extremely strong with both his base and Independents. The general reaction to this speech has been positive. What is more interesting are the absolute beatings Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is taking in the news media, from pundits of all persuasions. His response to Obama's speech was, well, not too good (Part 1, Part 2). Let's start with David Brooks:

Money quote? "It's just a form of nihilism."

Onward. From The Corner:

I thought his delivery was weak. The content will play well with the party base but seems unlikely to expand it. . . . That said, it is hard for anybody to come out well from responding to a presidential speech to a joint session of Congress.

FOX smacks him around:

BRIT HUME: It read better than it sounded… this was not Bobby Jindal’s greatest rhetorical moment.

NINA EASTON: The delivery was not terrific.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Jindal didn’t have a chance.


But for more contemplative criticism, one should head over to The Next Right, which offered this:

Republicans need to do more than criticize what is wrong with the Democratic agenda.  Not only is it irritating to the undecided voter to hear nothing but negativity, it also fails to offer the American people any hope or vision of what America would look like under your philosophy.


You do not combat a highly intelligent, loqcuatious president by going after the lowest common denominator of the American voting public.  "American's can do ANYTHING!" is a wonderful sentiment, but it sounds more like something I would tell my two year old son as I read him a story book than a serious national address to the country.


Bobby Jindal is one of the GOP's "rising stars" - its hard to deny that.  But he has already fallen into the trap that so many politicians in this party have fallen into over the last decade.  He has become a black hole of ideas who came off as dedicated to little more than opposing the Democratic agenda out of some kind of Hatfield/McCoy type rivalry, and he did it by appealing to the lowest common denominators of both our society, and our culture.

It is becoming clear that Jindal's ego trip of a response crystallizes a lot of what is wrong with the Republican Party—and this is on top of his grandstanding over treating the stimulus package like a buffet.

But let's keep going.

From Hot Air:

“Awful” is Ace’s word but I’m in no mood to disagree. And neither are most HA commenters, judging from this mammoth thread. This was his star turn and he came off wooden, especially at the beginning. Oh well. His loss is the rest of the GOP governors’ gain.

While not specific related to Jindal, here's something from David Frum over at New Majority:

A federal bank takeover is a bad thing obviously. I wonder though if we conservatives understand clearly enough why it is a bad thing. It’s not because we are living through an enactment of the early chapters of Atlas Shrugged. It’s because the banks are collapsing. Obama, Pelosi, et al are big-spending, high-taxing liberals. They are not socialists. They are no more eager to own these banks than the first President Bush was to own the savings and loan industry – in both cases, federal ownership was a final recourse after a terrible failure. And it was on our watch, not Obama’s, that this failure began. Our refusal to take notice of this obvious fact may excite the Republican faithful. But it is doing tremendous damage to our ability to respond effectively to the crisis.

Jindal's posturing falls in line with the "blame socialist Democrats, ignore anything and everything that might be the fault of Republicans."

Lastly, here's the link to Andrew Sullivan's massive reax of pundit reactions to Obama's speech (with a little more Jindal commentary).

  • Jeeze that speech was horrendous. Thanks for putting all the responses together, I literally spent two hours essentially reading and watching everything that is listed here. And then I thought to myself, why should I care about this? Still haven't found the answer yet.

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  • I like Jindal but the GOP is trying too hard. He's not a good speaker, and the rebuttal to the president, no matter what party is in power, is almost always panned. I found the content fine, but South Carolina's Mark Sanford would've been a better messenger. That said, Obama's been in office for a month and is a very, very charismatic politician. The GOP has nose-to-the-grindstone work ahead, and it won't pay immediate dividends. And frankly, I certainly hope Obama's plan, however flawed I think it is, to work since obviously it's vital to the country (and world).

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  • I can't imagine that the GOP didn't have Jindal practice this speech beforehand or at least observe his public speaking abilities. There are plenty of good, or at least better orators in the Republican party, which leads me to believe they chose Jindal largely because of his skin tone, assuming that because Americans elected a minority, that we would somehow they'd be more successful at winning support by presenting a minority as the new face of the GOP. it is upsetting to say the least that this logic would be used or that it would be assumed that Americans are that dumb/shallow/simple-minded.

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