Two young politicians are at the heart of the efforts confronting the Gulf oil spill: one is working overtime, one has gone on vacation twice; one is crisis-tested and reacted quickly, one is frozen in headlights and has resorted to consulting James Cameron for advice.
Since Barack Obama became president, we’ve seen plenty of words and speeches — whether it’s on oil, the economy, health care, or foreign policy. He hasn’t matched his bark with his bite. No one likes inaction, and even Obama’s supporters — most notably James Carville — are concerned about his inability to lead.
Sure, after months and months of delay, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have been able to pass a couple debt-swelling bills with their massive majorities, but Obama has done very little to whip the Democrats into going with his promised agenda. He’s also done very little in the face of real adversity.
The Obama presidency is just one more example of why our presidents need to have executive experience before entering office. Obama has choked every time we’ve been faced with a national crisis. In particular, his responses to the Fort Hood terrorist and the Detroit underwear-bomber were hesitant at best.
Now, he’s failing to take charge of this oil spill, and even his daughter is disappointed. "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" Obviously one man cannot plug the spill, but Obama’s leadership has been nothing short of pitiful.
Not only has he played golf at least seven times, he waited 13 days before visiting Louisiana and 25 to address the nation on the spill. There’s no doubt that these were only PR events, but even on the ground, the Obama administration was ignoring some important requests.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been fed up at the federal government’s lack of urgency. Since the beginning, he has been emphatically asking for more aid and coastal protections, but the Obama administration and BP have been stonewalling his requests.
On May 11, Jindal applied for 24 permits to create sand barriers for the coastal marshes; the administration did not respond until eight days later. Even worse, they waited for 15 days to approve just six of the permits, and to this day, BP has only funded one so far.
The government/BP reaction horror stories continue. Terrebonne Parish requested 180,000 feet of hard boom. The Coast Guard approved 90,000 feet, but, under BP orders, didn’t deploy it all, and the hard boom was left on the docks while the oil hit the beaches.
While the Louisiana government has been using all of its rather small amount of resources, Jindal has been wondering why the government and BP have not been doing the same. This prompted the governor to say this on Wednesday: "Give us the money, and we’ll get it done ourselves… Our federal government doesn’t need to be making excuses for BP."
Jindal and the American people have grown tired of waiting for BP and their friends in the federal government to act. Louisiana needs $145 million to take the necessary measures to protect the coastline, and President Obama, instead of filing criminal prosecutions against BP, needs to be forcing them to pay for the mess their company created.
If Obama isn’t going to step up and lead, he needs to pass the baton off to someone who knows what he’s doing.
Every since Jindal entered government at the ripe age of 25, he’s been cleaning up messes. Serving as the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Jindal took Louisiana’s Medicaid program from a $400 million deficit to a $220 million surplus in just three years.
More related to physical disasters, Jindal successfully managed one of the biggest evacuations in U.S. history during Hurricane Gustav, setting the standard for disaster responses. Gustav could have easily turned into another Hurricane Katrina, but Jindal took charge and didn’t hesitate to act quickly.
Even while rebuilding Louisiana, Jindal has also turned around Louisiana’s economy by cutting taxes and the size of government. Now, he continues to govern effectively during this oil spill. Did I mention he even delivered one of his own children?
As we learned from his response to Obama’s first address to Congress, Jindal doesn’t exactly manufacture perfect speeches. Jindal is just one more case demonstrating that actions speak louder than words.
When selecting future leaders, we ought to look more for people like Jindal — someone with a long record of success as an executive. If anything, I hope these 16 months of Obama have shown the nation that we cannot afford to give presidents ‘on the job’ training.
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