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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bobby “Digger” Jindal

I’m among the many folks who didn’t think very highly of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to make a lengthy anecdote about Hurricaine Katrina the centerpiece of his official GOP response to President Obama’s address to Congress the other night. I did suggest it made some sense in terms of the weird conservative belief that even in that emergency government tried to do too much. It was nonetheless an unfortunate choice of topics.
But it gets worse. Turns out the anecdote was, well, sort of made up. Thanks in part to some bulldogging by a Daily Kos diarist and by TPMMuckraker, Jindal’s spokesman is now allowing as how the supposed Harry Lee rant interposing himself and Jindal between heroic rescuers and “bureaucrats” didn’t actually involve Bobby, who overheard Lee a week later recounting his own experience over the phone to somebody else.
I have no idea how somebody as smart and experienced as Bobby Jindal would let these lines get into a featured place in his first nationally televised appearance, before a vast audience pre-assembled by Barack Obama. But it’s not only a gaffe of a high order; it also sears into the popular and media memory Jindal’s blunder in bringing up Katrina in the first place. He’s digging himself quite a hole here.
By coincidence, CNN’s out today with a poll on early Republican preferences for the 2012 presidential nomination. The poll, taken prior to Jindal’s big speech, has him running fourth, at 9%, below Sarah Palin (29%), Mike Huckabee (26%), and Mitt Romney (21%). Bobby’s low standing in part, no doubt, reflects a relatively low level of name ID. That’s now less of a problem for him, but not necessarily in a good way.

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