Jindal at centre stage as Hurricane Gustav hits US Gulf coastSeptember 2nd, 2008 - 2:17 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Sep 2 (IANS) As Hurricane Gustav bore down on the US Gulf coast Monday, lashing New Orleans with strong winds and heavy rain, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was at the centre stage of operations that could make or mar his political future. And so far his handling of the situation has drawn praise. So far the first Indian American governor of a US state, once mentioned as a potential running mate for Republican presidential candidate, appears to have done well with national attention focused on his state’s hurricane response.
“Jindal’s off to a good start,” said the Washington Post noting, “His press conferences in the run up 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,” it quoted Phil Musser, a Republican consultant who advised Jindal’s campaign last year, as saying. “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.”
Jindal’s handling of the situation also won praise from CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. “Watch this fellow Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana and you almost say to yourself here’s a guy who’s handling this situation, doing really yeoman’s work,” he said in an exchange with Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman-turned-Libertarian-Party-presidential candidate on his show.
“He seems composed, he seems organised, he seems to be a very effective communicator. And your are almost wondering and asking yourself, boy here is a guy who would have made a very good vice-presidential choice, wouldn’t he?”
Barr agreed: “And maybe in the years ahead he’ll make a good presidential choice for the Republican party. Very, very impressive fellow. Has a tremendous grasp of figures, organization, process, in addition to presenting himself very well. He has a tremendous future, I think.”
Many observers have also been suggesting that the best thing that happened to Bobby Jindal was losing his 2003 bid for governor to Democrat Kathleen Blanco. For when three years ago when Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast and New Orleans flooded, Blanco bore the brunt of the blame for the state and federal governments’ slow reaction to the situation.
Cast as an ineffective bureaucrat - “unable or unwilling to lead at a moment when the state needed her the most”, as the Post put it - Blanco decided against seeking re-election. Bobby Jindal, who had lost narrowly to Blanco in 2003, ran for and won the governorship in 2007.
It is now Jindal who finds himself in the hot seat with the arrival of Hurricane Gustav representing the first big test of Louisiana’s and Jindal’s preparedness for a major crisis.