The wind has whipped up around here — gusting to 28 mph — and the rain is falling as the outer bands of Gustav slide over West Monroe, Louisiana. Fortunately, it looks like Gustav hasn't been anywhere near as devastating as Katrina, and maybe not as bad as Rita either.
Regardless of the power of Gustav, the evacuation of New Orleans and the southern part of the state went very smoothly. This is due to the lessons learned in Katrina. Apparently FEMA spent a year in New Orleans drawing up an evacuation plan.
One politician in particular is getting a "boost" due to Gustav: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. His competence during Gustav — albeit with far better federal support and 50:50 hindsight — is striking in comparison to then governor Kathleen Blanco three years ago. With the choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate, some people are starting to speculate on a particular what if: what if McCain had chosen Jindal to be his running mate? With the media focus on Louisiana, Jindal's leadership would be a powerful tool against the Democrats. Instead, McCain chose the inexperienced Palin for vice presidential nominee. Some media, and no doubt some Republicans, are wondering if McCain would have been better off choosing Jindal.
What the media seems to be forgetting — if they even remembered it in the first place — is the reason Jindal fell off the short list for VP in the first place.
Bobby Jindal fell off the list due to the embarrassment he suffered earlier this summer. The state congress in Louisiana voted itself a 125% pay increase, making Louisiana’s politicians some of the highest paid in the nation. Worse than that, their pay was to be tied to the consumer price index, a luxury not afforded to the vast majority of the state’s residents.
The people of Louisiana were livid, yet Bobby Jindal refused to veto the bill. Oh, he spoke out against the raise and urged the state congress not to pass it, but he refused to pit himself against Louisiana’s senators and representatives. Instead, he chose not to sign the bill into law, legal sleight-of-hand given that if the governor doesn’t sign a bill it goes into law within a month anyway. Only after a grassroots campaign to recall several Louisiana politicians — including Jindal — gathered momentum did Jindal realize he had misread the public, at which point he vetoed the bill.
Louisianians were openly speculating that Jindal would be a one-term governor, so angry were they over the raise debacle. Other skeletons in Jindal's closet, which came out during the last two gubernatorial elections, popped up once again (such as his participation in a fellow student's exorcism when he was in college). His chance of being picked as McCain’s running mate was essentially sunk by his actions back in June, and the negative publicity he received.
McCain didn't select Jindal for good reasons, reasons that have been largely forgotten as Jindal appears as a strong leader on television. It remains to be seen if his handling of Gustav will be enough to reform him in the eyes of Louisianians, though.
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