By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
More evidence emerges that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal just isn't ready for the national stage. Remember the folksy tale he weaved about standing with a local sheriff against out of control bureaucrats during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Well it turns out that the governor Edmund Morris'd himself into the story.
Here's what Jindal originally said in his disastrous speech last week:
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 start rescuing people.
The meaning is clear: Jindal was in the moment with Sheriff Lee, the two men threatening civil disobedience if those damn federal bureaucrats wouldn't get out of their way. It's a powerful image (or would be, if it had been well-delivered; and if there wasn't a laughable level of shamelessness about a Republican deploying Hurricane Katrina federal incompetence in an argument against a Democratic president).
So it turns out that Jindal was not actually in the room when Sheriff Lee had his historic conversation. He apparently heard about the story later. Now, he was apparently in the area and being a good, active congressman during Hurricane Katrina ... but that's not what he said. He said he was in the room as Lee stood up to the bureaucrats and joined him in his righteous cause.
Is this in and of itself a huge deal? No. It's not unusual for pols to embellish stories a bit (though that does not make it OK either). But in this day and age politicians performing on a national stage should understand that they're simply not going to get away with that sort of routine exaggerations (see: Clinton, Hillary and sniper fire, Bosnian). As I said at the top, file this as more evidence that Jindal is not ready for the national stage.
On Facebook? You can keep up with Thomas Jefferson Street blog postings through Facebook's Networked Blogs.