Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindal's Response Takes Fire From the Right - Washington Post


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was no doubt prepared for some harsh reaction from Democrats to his heavily partisan response Tuesday night to President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress.

But he might have been surprised that so much of the trashing came from those in his own party.

A young, rising star in the Republican Party, Jindal is often mentioned these days as a possible challenger to Obama in 2012. He was on John McCain's short list for vice president. His selection to give last night's official GOP response was a reward and a bet that he could be a big part of the party's emerging future.

He may still be -- but he will have to overcome a terrible introduction to many of his fellow party members.

"A wonderful human being, I like him very much, but he is a horrible speaker," conservative commentator Laura Ingraham said on the radio this morning. "You can't go on TV and counter Obama with that."

Ingraham noted that Jindal kept looking down and that only one of his hands seemed to move. "Very off-putting," she said.

Her reaction was mirrored by conservatives across the country after they took in his performance.

New York Times columnist David Brooks blasted Jindal's performance, saying that the governor offered a "stale" argument and called the message "a disaster for the Republican Party."

Brooks was reacting more to the content of Jindal's message: that government is not the solution to the economic crisis and that Republicans should not put their trust in the federal bureaucracy.

But other Republicans reacted more to Jindal himself. On Fox News after the speech, the consensus among the commentators was that Jindal had not done well.

Brit Hume deadpanned that "this was not Bobby Jindal's greatest oratorical moment."

And the criticism was savage on the Internet. Amanda Carpenter of Townhall.com tweeted that "Ok, some conservative needs to start a campaign to fire whoever wrote this cheesy response and coached him to talk like this. I can't watch."

Jindal has distinguished himself as a speaker on other occasions, leading some to wonder what it is about giving a response like this that often makes the speaker seem like a bust.

"Jindal didn't have a chance. He follows Obama, who in making speeches, is in a league of his own," said Charles Krauthammer on Fox. "He's in a Reagan-esque league. ... [Jindal] tried the best he could."

During McCain's campaign for the presidency, Jindal hosted several town hall campaign events, earning positive reviews from national reporters who were impressed with his energy.

McCain aides, too, were impressed and did not shoot down reports that he was under consideration as a running mate.

But the performance Tuesday was not up to that par, according to most of the reviewers.
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