Friday, May 04, 2007

Bobby Who?

Piyush Darbash "Bobby" Jindal
(Image from Wikipedia)

I have just read an article about an amazing individual, a young political leader of impressive ability about whom I'd never previously heard anything but who took action in New Orleans during the Katrina crisis when all of the other politicians were making asses of themselves by trying to look good on television through blaming the other asses in order to cover their own asses.

The impressive individual is Bobby Jindal.

"Bobby Who?"

Exactly. I had the same reaction.

If you want to know who he is and what he did during Katrina, then you can learn about him in a published, quarterly collection of the best writing online, The Critical (Winter 2007), by reading Ben Domenech's informative, well-written article "Bobby Jindal Saves Louisiana," which is also available online at a site called Red State (h/t Kate Marie).

Here's a sample that leads into a demonstration of Jindal's ability to act where bureaucrats merely rear their asshat heads:
A local mayor [of a place in Louisiana other than New Orleans] told Jindal a story after the fact that in retrospect seems like a good symbol for the disconnect between D.C. and Louisiana. After the storm, he'd called FEMA in search of help. They were flooded. They had no power. Can you send someone?

"I'm not authorized to do that, I'll need to ask my supervisor."

Thirty minutes on hold.

"Yeah, he's not able to approve that right now," the FEMA bureaucrat said. "Could you maybe email the details? I can pass it along then."

The mayor informed FEMA that no, without electricity, they couldn't email him. FEMA put them on hold, searching for the answer to this unexpected situation.

Another few minutes. Then they came back on.

"Yeah, see, that's our protocol here. So if you could find someone to email the details, and then maybe put that last part in the email too? That'd be great."
Encountering the identical sort of bureaucratic inflexibility in that same time of disaster, Jindal acted:
FEMA was useless. The [Louisiana] governor was looking for someone to blame. Time to solve some problems. Time to use that rolodex.

Jindal and his staff started calling like mad, becoming a de facto volunteer and donation coordinator for the corporate, community, and faith-based entities eager to help. We need a truck with clean water -- let's talk to the beer companies, the soda makers. We need medical supplies -- I know a guy with the pharmaceutical companies, they'll donate something. We need people in boats—let's talk to the megachurches. They've got volunteers up north, but no way to get them here -- fine, let's call down the list to everyone who owns a plane or a helicopter.

One can't really tell the impact one congressman and his staff had on the recovery from a storm like Katrina. There's no tangible way to measure it. In simple legislative terms, Jindal did a handful of key things.
Sounds like he did more than a handful. I'd never heard of Piyush Darbash "Bobby" Jindal before, but I expect that I'll be hearing a lot more in the future, and if any one person is evidence that America can still gain something from maintaining openness to legal immigrants, then Jindal would seem to be that person.

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At 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At the moment, it does appear as if Bobby Jindal will be our next governor. He nearly won the office four years ago; after that election there was a study which suggested that he lost because he could not carry the "David Duke" vote in north Louisiana (maybe he got the David Duke voters in the south - who knows). Still, to this day there are folks who think that Jindal can't understand Louisiana culture as well as can someone who is from here -- nevermind the fact that he was born and raised in Baton Rouge.


At 4:42 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

Governor Jindal would be great.

Heck, I'd like to see President Jindal someday.

Do the right thing, Louisiana!

At 5:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Michael. I thought that you might have something to say about Jindal.

To me, Jindal sounds like a man who does understand Louisiana culture. I'll be curious to hear of what happens to him in his political future.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:46 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM, Jindal does sound impressive -- assuming that the article wasn't puffing him up, and I think that Michael would have alerted us in that case.

Thanks for the hat tip.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


In my experience, whenever a politician glows wondrously in an article, there is at least some puffery in that article. I'm not going to give full disclosure here, because, well, no matter about what I might criticize Bobby, I still regard him as far superior to virtually every other politician I have ever met. Accordingly, to this point I have made mention of my notions only in personal conversations. Personally, I prefer to meet as few politicians as possible and as infrequently as possible, but my wife nonetheless did slap a Bobby Jindal for governor bumper sticker on my truck. Bobby likes her a lot, which means he occasionally has to hear from me (whether indirectly or directly doesn't really matter), and that can't be bad. Can it? Of all the people who want to be governor, Bobby Jindal is the best -- no doubt about it.


At 8:05 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks again, Michael. Sounds like you have even a personal connection, too.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:07 AM, Blogger ben prisk said...

Turns out Jindal exaggerated his efforts during Katrina. His anecdote about being with Harry Lee during the storm was fabricated. has an article about it as well as Jindals website tries to clarify what his statement actually meant in his rebuttal to Obama's address.

At 5:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Mr. Ben Prisk, for that note. Would you happen to have a link? (I suppose that I can always Google for it.)

Jeffery Hodges

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