Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal gave the Republican response to President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress. You can watch the video here (or below) or read the transcript here.
These responses always seem diminished regardless of who is giving them, and regardless of party. I think he did better the other day, but it is hard to compare the style of a rebuttal to a television camera compared to a speech in the U.S. Capitol to members of Congress. They just don’t compare. Apples to oranges. It wouldn’t be that much different than comparing a President’s State of the Union speech to an Oval Office address. The address without a live audience just doesn’t seem as on.
That said, he seemed off. His cadence with the teleprompter was off. He seemed like he was reading his speech – which teleprompters are supposed to help you seem like you are not.
Content wise – if I just read the speech it would have been just fine. His personal story of being a son of an immigrant was compelling. His points are the antithesis of Obama’s.
Not relying on the Government, the Government isn’t the solution, the people are. “Americans can do anything,” quoting his father.
Pro-growth stimulus plan with tax cuts and business incentives for investing in new equipment and job creation.
Tax credits for homebuyers.
Pointing out pork in TARF was good.
Healthcare solutions from the private sector.
Education – charter schools & private schools
Some may say that he needed to give more details, and he could have since he is very much a policy wonk (which is another reason you can’t expect him to be the GOP answer to Obama’s oratory skills). The rebuttal isn’t the time to do that however.
He did an excellent job outlining how he as a Republican governor is living out the Republican principles of limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. The end of his response was the strongest part.
In recent years, these distinctions in philosophy became less clear — because our party got away from its principles. You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline, and personal responsibility. Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust — and rightly so.
Tonight, on behalf of our leaders in Congress and my fellow Republican governors, I say: Our party is determined to regain your trust. We will do so by standing up for the principles that we share — the principles you elected us to fight for — the principles that built this into the greatest, most prosperous country on earth.
A few weeks ago, the President warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said ‘we may not be able to reverse.’ Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don’t let anyone tell you that we cannot recover — or that America’s best days are behind her.
This is the nation that cast off the scourge of slavery, overcame the Great Depression, prevailed in two World Wars, won the struggle for civil rights, defeated the Soviet menace, and responded with determined courage to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The American spirit has triumphed over almost every form of adversity known to man — and the American spirit will triumph again.
We can have confidence in our future — because, amid today’s challenges, we also count many blessings: We have the most innovative citizens –the most abundant resources — the most resilient economy — the most powerful military — and the freest political system in the history of the world.
My fellow citizens, never forget: We are Americans. And like my Dad said years ago, Americans can do anything.
Thank you for listening. God bless you. And God bless America.”
Overall I don’t think it was bad. I think he could have done much better. I do believe he did a good job pointing out the distinctions between the parties, and reminding the American public of what Republicans should and will stand for. Gateway Pundit says it well that it would seem that much of the criticism against Jindal isn’t coming from flyover country.
Update: The American Spectator has a good piece on his response which echoes some of the same feelings I have about his response, albeit do a better job of communicating.
3rd Update 3/4/09: From the Alaska Dispatch – “Jindal right to question volcano research funding“