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Obama, Jindal and True Leadership

Obama, Jindal and True Leadership

By Jay Ambrose - June 23, 2010

Here it was, the crystallizing moment that told us who is who and what is what in the Gulf oil spill disaster and that also signaled that there really is reliable leadership to be found in this country.

Not that there was high drama when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal got 16 barges busy dredging up BP oil that was otherwise going to wreak havoc. He has been ever alert, ever in motion, ever figuring out new ways to save his state from ruin, and this decisive action was nothing new for him.

Then, however, we had a counter-attack. The Coast Guard put the operation on hold for fear the barges might not have life jackets or fire extinguishers aboard. To find out the hard way, officers attempted without success to contact the company that built the barges. Meanwhile Jindal was trying to contact someone in the Coast Guard or White House. It took 24 precious hours to wring retreat out of these abettors of gooey grief.

So where was the White House on this, anyway? Happy to see bureaucracy obnoxiously extending itself no matter what the issue? Out to lunch? Or, more likely, out with the boss playing golf? Maybe that's unfair. It's surely excusable for a president to have six hours of refreshment, as on a recent golf outing, even if one online jokester tells us that while Barack Obama swings his clubs, Jindal fills sandbags.

He is a wonder, this Jindal. He has been engaged in every facet of what's going on, as in demanding sand barriers to protect the coast and providing answers to those that questioned the idea's wisdom, in striking contrast to Obama, whose way of addressing the catastrophe has largely been political.

As president of the whole nation, Obama has a great many other big issues to contend with, but that does not explain why his minion-in-chief mendaciously declares that all Republicans want to let BP off the hook, why Obama blames George W. Bush for current regulatory failures, why he says Republicans hate all regulation or why he gives a nationally televised speech that is a cliche pudding. It certainly does not explain the scandalous fact that he has neglected to accept high-tech rescue help from 17 countries that have been offering it.

Then again, Obama's experience in administering anything is nil. He says he managed his campaign, but presidential candidates do not manage their campaigns except perhaps to say "yes" or "no" occasionally. Otherwise, he was a community organizer, a part-time lawyer, a university lecturer, a state senator and a U.S. senator who chiefly ran for president while holding that office.

Following an academic career that was nothing short of brilliant, Jindal, at the age of 25, was Louisiana's secretary of health, saving millions of dollars for Medicaid while extending health protections for the public, a review of an online biography reminds us. At 28, he was president of the state's university system. He sat on a national panel figuring out an answer to one of the country's biggest problems, the funding of Medicare. He was an assistant secretary in the federal Health and Human Services Department. He was a member of Congress. He is now the exceptional 39-year-old governor of a big state

A debit was his nationally televised response to an Obama speech in February of 2009. In delivery style, the Jindal oration was a horror. The content was nevertheless an incisive conservative questioning of Obama's stimulus ambitions along with his own suggested recession remedies. He is an anti-debt guy, a practical guy, a problem solver, a constitutionalist and the son of immigrants that is very much a believer in the American dream.

And right now, he is an example of what a true leader can be like.

Scripps Howard News Service

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