The Dumbest Jindal-Bashing Yet?

Bobby Jindal is a hypocrite.

He’s a hypocrite because he wants federal help in dealing with the Gulf oil spill.

At least, that’s what Lincoln Mitchell (who?) of the Huffington Post says.

Mitchell equates Jindal with George Rekers, a co-founder of the Family Research Council who got caught apparently hiring a male escort for a 10-day European trip, as a “far-right hypocrite.” According to Mitchell, Jindal’s call for increased federal aid is even worse. He explains:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s reaction to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, however, demonstrated a level of hypocrisy, and for that matter chutzpah that exceeds anything Rekers has done. Jindal, of course, rose to national prominence with his spirited attack on President Obama’s policies following Obama’s 2009 State of the Union speech. During that address, Jindal reminded Americans of the need for small government and urged us to remember that government, particularly the federal government, cannot solve our problems.

Since the oil spill, however, Jindal seems to have forgotten about his disdain for Washington and has asked the federal government for more assistance to clean up and mitigate the impact of the oil spill. Jindal has also asked for the federal government to fund the Louisiana National Guard to help with the oil spill related problems. Defenders of Jindal and his small government way of thinking undoubtedly think that this oil spill is sufficiently big and unexpected that there is a legitimate reason for Jindal to ask for help from Washington.

This view, however, captures exactly why the anti-government advocates are wrong. An important role of the federal government, of course, is to help out when problems are too big for state or local governments, but we also know that these events occur with some frequency. Oil spill, natural disasters, economic downturns and terrorist attacks are just some of the major events which require the intervention of the federal government. Building a political philosophy around the belief that they will not occur is absurd. While we may not know exactly when these events will occur, it somewhat disingenuous to act completely shocked when they happen. A major part of the responsibility of government is to be prepared for these bad scenarios. If disasters, foreign attacks and market collapses did not occur, then Jindal would be right about their being no need for government, but this is not the case.

The HuffPo piece goes on to demand stricter federal regulation of the oil industry without any acknowledgement that human error of the type which appears to have been the cause of the Deepwater Horizon accident, error which would have violated already-established industry practices, are necessary in the wake of the disaster. But the nub of his argument is that because Jindal is looking for federal aid to deal with a major catastrophe – as part of mustering all the resources he can to protect the citizens of the state – he’s violating his stated small-government preference in a manner which is worse than an anti-gay advocate who turns out to have a “wide stance.”

It’s asinine, but for the record let’s try to explain this.

Conservatives are not opposed to government. When major catastrophes happen, they usually require the efforts of the most powerful actors available in order to mitigate their effects. And there are lots of laws on the books establishing procedures for calling those actors to the scene – disaster declarations, requests for emergency status to call out national guard troops and so on. Major disasters are not unlike wars in that they’re situations in which government involvement is not only acceptable but preferable; they’re also, by their nature, temporary and extraordinary.

Conservatives who talk about free markets and limited government also discuss the need for a strong national defense, in case Mitchell hasn’t noticed it. And why? Because a strong military offers capabilities to deal with exigent circumstances.

While we on this site are hardly stormtroopers for the governor – he gets a generally friendly reception here, but he’s taken some shots for the inexplicable approach to the Allee Bautsch ordeal and the raiding of trust funds to cover this year’s budget crunch – he doesn’t deserve Mitchell’s attempts to put him in a clever small-government trick box. The fact is, while conservatives have the right to expect Jindal to move the state toward a free-market, limited government model as his term proceeds, when there is a threat to the state’s economy and environment the entire state of Louisiana expects him to govern. An irrelevant ideological fetish about small government expressed as justification for sitting on his rear end in the midst of a crisis is not governance and it’s not an option for a governor who has a job to do.

Mitchell’s dumb criticisms aside, Jindal is governing correctly with respect to the Gulf oil spill. Vigorous government action amid a crisis has been an acceptable and proper practice since the founding of the Republic.

And that’s one reason why left-wing politicians like Mitchell would foist on us attempt to sell all their pet issues as crises. Health care was in “crisis” despite better than 80 percent of the country believing they have adequate access to quality health care, so we had Obamacare rammed into our posteriors. The financial system was in “crisis,” so it was necessary for the federal government to bail out banks and other financial institutions. Student loans are in “crisis,” so the whole industry was nationalized.

It’s not hypocritical for the Left to manufacture fake crises to cover up power grabs. It’s dishonest and it’s bad governance. Jindal’s approach to the Gulf oil spill is neither, and he deserves better than to attract potshots from emotionalist knotheads at the Huffington Post.

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