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Jindal's Moment

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

After being mentioned as a potential running mate for John McCain, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be under a national spotlight this week as attention is focused on his state's hurricane response. (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)

ST. PAUL -- These are the moments that can make or break politicians.

Three years ago (almost to the day), Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast. As New Orleans flooded, state and federal governments were slow to react -- and the blame game began.

Ultimately, it was Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco who bore the brunt of the blame. She was cast as an ineffective bureaucrat -- unable or unwilling to lead at a moment when the state needed her the most. The political damage to Blanco was so severe that she ultimately decided against seeking re-election and Bobby Jindal, who had lost narrowly to Blanco in 2003, was elected last year.

It is now Jindal who finds himself in the hot seat as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the state. At 37, Jindal is widely seen as a rising star in the party as evidenced by his consideration as a potential vice presidential pick for John McCain earlier this year.

He is certain to be on national television for at least the next week. How he handles himself is critical to his political future, although his closest aides eschew the idea that any political calculation enters into this sort of situation.

Jindal's off to a good start. His press conferences in the runup to Gustav's landfall have been authoritative and extremely detail-oriented. And, his past experiences in Louisiana government -- running the health and human services department in the state -- suggest a flair for management.

"Moments of crisis define political leadership -- fairly or unfairly," said Phil Musser, a Republican consultant who advised Jindal's campaign last year. "My experience leads me to believe that at the end of the day, Louisianans, and Americans, will be really proud of and thankful for Bobby Jindal."

There's no question that Jindal will be the center of the storm (so to speak) this week. All eyes will be on him and, like it or not, his performance will ultimately be seen as fodder for the political grist mill.

Shine this week and his star rises ever higher. Falter and Jindal's seemingly assured spot on the national ticket will become a lot more shaky.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 1, 2008; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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Next: Assessing the Political Impact of Bristol Palin's Pregnancy


Thank you, Bobby, for your great leadership!We love you Govenor Jindal.

Posted by: Kristin | September 2, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

We have plenty of Ivy League lawyers and MBAs in D.C., but they haven't helped the nation as we had hoped.

Having a fancy degree just means you have done well in school, which doesn't always translate into high achievements after graduation.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

If the pregnant 17 year old was Obama's daughter, the right wing of the republican party would already be swiftboating. Thank goodness Democrats have more class.

Posted by: Barb | September 1, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad things are going better this time. The comment above is important though--everyone is doing better, especially Mayor Nagin. The Feds stepped up as they should have--myGod, imagine if they didn't! This is also a much less severe storm, and it isn't hitting NO directly.

Posted by: Beth in VA | September 1, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

As a life long resident of Louisiana and a native of New Orleans (now living in north La), I can say we are extremely proud of our governor. He is articulate, intelligent, professional and does not stumble when he speaks. I have met him personally and he is very approachable. Watch for him in the future. Go Jindal!

Posted by: Soapy | September 1, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry but Sarah Palin is hardly qualified to be Vice President of the US of A. It's okay to be Governor of Alaska with a Bachelor's degree, Alaska only has some 650,000 people (Brooklyn New York is larger). But the former mayor of a town of 5000 (when she was mayor) and a mere 1.5 years in office as governor. Rudy Guliani who presided over NYC a city of 8 million seems more like the experience McCain could have settled on. Poor John, the cancer on his face makes seeing and thinking difficult!

Posted by: Daniel | September 1, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Bobby Jindal rocks. Thank God the people of New Orleans have someone in charge now.

Posted by: V.Cobb | September 1, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for the link. I stand corrected, having made the mistake of quoting hearsay.

Posted by: viejo1 | September 1, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, though, related to this issue and talking about Jindal, remember, we have a control in this case to measure the relative response - Mayor Nagin. He's also p[erforming 1000 times better this time around, and also seems to be getting more of the media, overshadowing Jindal in some cases. That aspect might suggest this isn't so much about Jindal being that much better than Blanco, but given the example as a model, no one should do worse than what is happening now (especially since the storm has seemed to fizzle as I aid last night it may, leaving the whole hurricane more a temporary national distraction than a true national crisis, although there will certainly be significant damage at the local level in a number of communities; I'm just saying it's not gonna be a storm to remember).

Posted by: kreuz_missile | September 1, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"Now, even the "registered voter" polls are tied."

Ummm, Gallup just released has Obama 49 - McCain 43.


Posted by: kreuz_missile | September 1, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Jindal should perform an exorcism to make the storm go away.

Posted by: info | September 1, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Now, even the "registered voter" polls are tied.
The hurricane's as big a dud as the temple speech and the world tour were.
Palin has proven she's as honest and open as obama is misleading and secretive.
The dirt on obama hasn't even begun to fly.

No wonder libdems are under Code Red conditions.

Posted by: viejo1 | September 1, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

So let em get this straight...

Sarah Palin has a 4 month old child with Downs Syndrome at home (who she chose to get on a flight back to Alaska while in labor with rather than going immediately to a hospital), meanwhile her 17 year old daughter is five months pregnant, and she feels the best use of her time is to campaign to be Vice President, and john McCain agrees with her?

Is this really the family values that the Republcian Party aspouses?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | September 1, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Can Jindal exorcise a hurricane? We're about to see.

Posted by: Aleks | September 1, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong--Jindal has done a great job and will come off of this storm with very high stature. But the disaster of how Katrina was (inefffectively) handled provided him the perfect blueprint to what to do. I think even Blanco would have figured out how to look good for Gustav. And as it will turn out, Gustav will not throw up the events that were totally anticpiated for Katrina(failure of people to evacuate, setting up intracity refugee areas, levee failures, etc.). Don't start adding fuel to the myth (that followed Katrina)that only a Republican governor can properly handle a hurricance.

Posted by: LSUvet | September 1, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Yea yea. Wind and rain.

So how old is the boyfriend?

Posted by: NoOneImportant | September 1, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

chill out, Nikki Hussein Idiot. The article was about Jindal and you start busting weird partisan moves. Get your brain in gear.

Posted by: Fixinetta | September 1, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I am so bitter and angry that people are not following along with what former Democratic chair Don Fowler had to say about Gustav being God's will against the Republicans. There are many of the far-left members of the Democratic Party -- angry, bitter leftists like me who read firedoglake and are secure in our gender identity -- that completely agree with Fowler. After all, it is only right that the right be made to look bad if things go bad in New Orleans. It serves them right if there is vast destruction of property -- they should never have nominated someone with little-to-no experience to serve at the highest levels of government. After all, Obama Hussein Barack was a community organizer during his drug-use days, so of course he can give a good speech and bring about change and be looked upon as our savior.

Posted by: twin_peaks_nikki | September 1, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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