Jindal, who wants to pick and choose what he takes from the stimulus package and scare Louisiana voters by saying President Barack Obama wants to force us to permanently change state law, spoke to the national television audience like he was telling a story to pre-schoolers. Both in tone and content he delivered a fairy tale.
He held up the New Orleans public school system as though it's a proven success. Nuff said. He tried to make it sound like he's turned this state around by lowering taxes, but the jury's still out. And most of all, he praised the late Sheriff Harry Lee, a well-known racist who ruled down here like he was king.
Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us.Who does Jindal think he's fooling? It was a Republican president that failed the people of Katrina in New Orleans. Furthermore, Harry Lee, not really a Democrat in outlook but more a Dixiecrat-like throwback, defended the actions of police officers in predominantly white parishes who prevented people from leaving New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina -- we have our doubts.
Let me tell you a story.
During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office, I'd never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: "Well, I'm the Sheriff and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me!" I asked him: "Sheriff, what's got you so mad?" He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go, when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn't go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, "Sheriff, that's ridiculous." And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: "Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!" Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and go start rescuing people. (Jindal's response speech)
And here's a link to an NPR story that tells Gretna and Harry Lee's side of the story. If you don't know anything about life down here, sounds like these law officers deserve benefit of the doubt, but if you know our history and recall that long before Katrina Harry Lee gained popularity by proposing gating off parts of Jefferson Parish to keep black people from Orleans Parish out of white areas, you may have trouble buying the officers' version of events.
Later Lee launched a personal campaign against a black woman running for congress against money-in-the-freezer Jefferson because she criticized his actions in Spike Lee's Katrina film. Lee told local TV station ABC 26 that he would keep spitting his "piss and vinegar" at people like her who made people like him look backwards.
Harry Lee was the kind of man who would have defended the white men who shot black men during Katrina (if he'd been living when the story of that injustice broke.)
If Jindal is the face of change for the Republican Party, then the GOP is in need of a more skilled plastic surgeon. The Louisiana Governor's appearance as the face and voice of conservative opposition is more proof that the Republican Party is the party of wrapper politics (attempts to play people of color and women through outward appearance only) and further evidence that Michael Steele's crew doesn't know the first thing about reaching out to people of color nor do they understand why they lost the last election. Will Jindal be part of the off-the-hook public relations campaign you're launching, Steele?
The GOP needs to get a clue about the America that voted them out of office. What it's passed off as inclusion in Louisiana is a joke around the nation.
Updated: I was unaware of this Harry Lee quote, but just read it at Politico: "We know the crime is in the black community. Why should I waste time in the white community?""
Jindal photo from The Times Picayune.