While fate intertwined the fortunes of former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former Pres. George W. Bush to the downside attendant to Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in 2005, in 2010 Gov. Bobby Jindal may find an inverse relationship with Pres. Barack Obama relative to their handling of the burgeoning oil spill disaster offshore the state, to Jindal’s benefit.
Both Bush and Blanco, often from the opposite sides of the political spectrum, were pilloried by public opinion for their handlings of the disaster, eroding Bush’s political capital and becoming perhaps the main factor in making Blanco unelectable for another term. This latest Louisiana-based crisis began almost two weeks ago when a blowout from failed equipment collapsed a platform oil rig that has send thousands of barrels a day into the Gulf. It now has begun to lap into the coastline, with
While federal law puts the cleanup responsibility in the hands of the operator, BP, Obama seemed little interested in addressing the matter for more than a week as BP struggled unsuccessfully to bring matters under control. Rather than offer federal help immediately and bill BP later, Obama for days, in his actions and words, seemed more interested in scoring partisan political points on unrelated matters.
Naturally, a sympathetic media in combination with the pass they are willing to give Obama because they see him as an environmentalist even as his inaction does not mitigate the ecological threat about to manifest means little that identifies Obama’s lack of reaction as a major culpable element has been disseminated by the media. This especially is derelict because Obama campaigned on making government work better, yet on a number of unanticipated problems his response shows a high degree of detrimental delay.
While this brought speculation about whether Obama’s handling of the situation would impair him politically, Jindal appears ready to put another notch in his decisive leadership belt. Hailed for his proactive approach to mitigating the impact of Hurricane Gustav his first year in office, Jindal a week ago began to insert himself and his administration into the crisis, joined by various parish leaders. With the oil still on the loose, Jindal has escalated efforts and become increasingly (if delicately) critical of both BP and Obama.
Of course, this is just doing his job but, in contrast to Obama and others, he comes off well and appears to be building a reputation as somebody who deals with immediately and (hopefully this time also) effectively crises. This is entirely consistent with his emphasis on making government work better and more efficiently. When Obama visits the area this afternoon, perhaps he can take some lessons from Jindal.