May 26, 2010

The enemy is who, again?

Former Maine Senator William Cohen, a moderate Republican, once said, "Government is the enemy -- until you need a friend.

Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is busily proving Cohen's theory.  Jindal, a 37-year-old governor and former rising Republican star, has been all over TV lately for complaining that the government he wants to downsize hasn't done enough to protect his state from the undersea oil volcano that's still spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

Once mentioned as a presidential hopeful -- that is, until his incredibly wooden opposition response to President Obama's joint address to Congress last year sent his political stock crashing -- Jindal has become a real boy, if you will, in the days since British Petroleum's offshore drilling rig exploded, killing 11 and sending seemingly unstoppable waves of crude oil to his state's fragile shoreline.  

As the disaster drags on, Jindal has done yeoman's work before the cameras, criticizing the Obama Administration along with BP for a so-far lackluster response to a disaster that has no end in sight.  Though it's a crass, cynical prediction at this point, some are predicting that Jindal's new visibility and take-charge demeanor could resurrect Jindal's national ambitions, giving him the image of a fighter sticking up for the little guy and a defender of a fragile environment. 

Unless you look too closely at his recent past. 

Last year, from his Republican response to Obama's speech, came this gem: 

“… we need urgent action to keep energy prices down” including “increase[d] drilling for oil and gas here at home.”  He also believes that “Democratic leaders in Washington – they place their hope in federal government.  We [the Republicans] place our hope in you, the American people. …. We oppose the National Democratic view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government.”


Then there's this tasty slice of irony from an interview with Fox News in 2008: 

And FiveThirtyEight, a political web site, notes that during negotiations on the climate bill, Bobby J. penned a letter to the Department of the Interior practically begging for more oil wells off the Louisiana coast.

There's no doubt that government shares a big chunk of the blame here.  And the longer this crisis drags on, the higher the likelihood that the sludge will wash up on the steps of the White House.  Approval ratings for President Obama and his handling of this crisis are in the dumper, with the potential to sink to Bush-Katrina levels if BP doesn't plug the gusher soon.

Jindall, not to mention Palin, and other "drill baby drill" small-government Republicans, are again raising hypocrisy to an art form.  If the GOP pro-business conservatives had their way -- and they did, for eight of the last 10 years -- the current lax government oversight and cozy, old-boy relationship between the oil company and its (theoretical) regulators could be even worse.

Although it's hard to imagine how things could be worse.

Meanwhile, Rachel Maddow hits the mark again, explaining why the "experts" can't get a grip on the situation, reminding us that we've been here before and why there's no hope for optimism any time soon:

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