Defending Bobby Jindal

I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated. After stewing on it for a week, I feel the need to vent. I’m upset over the media’s reaction to Governor Bobby Jindal’s response to Barack Obama’s speech to Congress last week.Before I get started, let me be upfront. I love Bobby Jindal and it’s more personal than the usual fawning politico. I know the guy. In 2003 I spent a year of my life talking to him 18 hours a day, eating pizza with his family, spending the night with his in-laws and fighting to elect him governor of Louisiana. My perspective is not objective. I admit it. Furthermore, I have spent the past two years flying twice a month from D.C. to Baton Rouge, fighting for school-reform efforts that Governor Jindal supports. In those two years I’ve seen firsthand his passion for improving the lives of the great people of his state. He led the effort to pass some of the strongest ethics laws in a state (in a state ranked near the top in corruption). He’s cut taxes on businesses in a down economy and he helped pass school-reform efforts that have changed the lives of low-income families by giving them the same educational choices as higher-income families. Oh, and he did this in the first six months of his governorship.After Hurricane Katrina, then-Congressman Jindal was widely credited with getting more accomplished for the state’s recovery than the inept Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin. The man doesn’t just talk the talk as a “typical politician”—he walks the walk. He genuinely cares for his state, its people and their well–being.So when dying old-media establishments like the New York Times print a story that highlights his awkward style, I get angry. Other criticisms I’ve read and heard were based less on the substance of his response and more on his delivery. Instead of judging the seriousness of Jindal’s argument, many critics panned his manner and “fast talk.” Maybe Bobby Jindal talks fast because we have a lot to fix in this country. It’s obvious the critics intended to subliminally compare his oratory style to that of President Obama’s. What a shame. The Bobby Jindal I know on a personal level is kind, smart and dedicated. The Bobby Jindal I know on a professional level is bipartisan, substantive and accomplishes what he sets his mind to do. To compare him to Obama’s oratory style last Tuesday was not fair. He’s a different person with different ideas. He should have been judged on those ideas.Phillip Stutts is the President of Phillip Stutts & Company, LLC, a political and corporate consulting firm.

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