At noon today, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will address a prayer service at the Louisiana State Capitol to remember the people who lost their lives on the oil rig and also pray for those who are affected by the spill.
After that, he’s set to address the state legislature as it adjourns its 2010 regular session.
That means Jindal has two opportunities today to match the rhetoric of Louisiana’s #1 enemy – the man who sits in the White House and delivers thunderbolts to the state’s economy. President Obama’s avalanche of red tape and delays are hindering Louisiana’s attempts to keep invading oil off its shores and he’s delivering a coup de grace with a cruel and ill-considered moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf (not to mention the delays in promulgating new safety rules for shallow-water drilling which amount to a moratorium in their own right).
The twin disasters threaten to make future legislative sessions like the one Jindal just finished, with state legislators buffaloed into accepting bad budget deals to raid rainy day funds rather than raising taxes or slashing state services (which must happen next year), the new reality – and force individual Louisiana budgets into the same deficit situation as the state’s government is now struggling to deal with.
Confrontation is not Jindal’s style. He strikes a pose as a technocrat – the Governor has long styled himself as a problem-solver and not a politician. When a new group of state legislators entered the Capitol in 2008 bent on voting themselves a pay raise, Jindal gave a tepid reaction which encouraged passage in the legislature but then neither signed the bill nor vetoed it until public outcry forced both parties’ hands. When Sen. Mary Landrieu mucked up a needed effort to secure Louisiana relief from arbitrary and devastating effects from the Medicaid funding formula last year, waiting until November to append such relief to the Obamacare bill and causing the Louisiana Purchase fiasco in the process, Jindal merely said he opposed the bill but wouldn’t castigate members of the state’s congressional delegation for trying to fix the Medicaid issue. That left Landrieu to twist in the wind, and her outraged claims of betrayal gave an unhinged impression to many observers; Landrieu’s career is largely in tatters, but Jindal’s hands appear clean.
So far, standing aside and watching his adversaries self-immolate has worked for Jindal. But in President Obama, the Governor has an opponent more powerful and more substantial than the bit players with whom he’s dealt to date. Obama is driven by left-wing ideology and a contempt for the rule of law. He is, as Michael Barone has described him, a thug. Obama has shown himself thus in flouting the will of the public by pushing through a federal seizure of the medical sector, in raping creditors of GM and Chrysler on his way to nationalizing them on behalf of the unions, in cooking up an extralegal and unaccountable $20 billion Gulf oil spill slush fund and in countless other machinations and abuses in his short time in office.
Jindal can’t fight Obama on a matter as serious as the Obamoratorium using goodwill and the power of persuasion. He can’t even do it with a lawsuit; by the time even a successful suit would wind its way through the courts the damage to Louisiana families and businesses will have already been done.
No, the only way Jindal can fight Obama’s fire is with fire of his own. And to his good fortune, Jindal has plenty of that.
As such, this is what he should say today.
“My fellow Louisianians, I speak with a heavy heart to you today. It’s heavy because I still grieve, with many of you, for the lives of the 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon who needlessly perished in an unnecessary disaster. I still grieve for the damage to our coast done by BP, a company we’ve seen to have through its negligence, cutting of corners and dysfunction since the catastrophe in the Gulf has done little or nothing to help us mitigate the losses along our coast. I grieve for the frustration we’ve felt in dealing with a sluggish and stupid federal response – one which stands in our way as we attempt to pile sand on barrier islands to keep oil from our marshes and use creative approaches to siphon oil where it has already intruded. I grieve for the loss or everyday life – not just for Tony Hayward and his now infrequent boat rides or President Obama’s distracted golfing excursions – but for those shrimpers, fishermen, restaurateurs and merchants who now see a livelihood on the brink of extinction.
“I grieve for these things. And I also grieve for the future of one of our proud industries. I grieve for the industrial pipe manufacturers, the oilfield service companies, the caterers, the roustabouts and the deckhands who are all out of work thanks to the moratorium imposed by fiat in Washington.
“But while I grieve, a light shines in my mind. Because amid this pain and destruction, I am now enlightened. I have been converted. And I am ready to help the President lead us from the error of our ways.
“You see, last week the President told us that safety is paramount. He also told us it’s time to navigate away from oil. And I have heard his call. I am now fully on board with that agenda. And like the President, I will act in furtherance of it.
“So here in Louisiana we will do both. We will impose safety, and we will navigate away from oil. It may inconvenience many, but I’m convinced it is the right thing to do.
“As of today, I am closing every oil and gas pipeline in Louisiana indefinitely, so that inspectors from state regulatory agencies might work to insure their integrity. A pipeline in Texas exploded two weeks ago, and with the disaster taking place on and off our coast we simply can’t afford another explosion. We will examine every inch of pipeline in Louisiana to insure there is no leakage and no danger.
“Pipelines from Louisiana service some 50 percent of America. I have no doubt that a cutoff of oil and gas to those markets will cause widespread disruption – an explosion in gas prices, gas lines, economic downturn, perhaps even civil unrest. For this I apologize in advance. As the President said about his deepwater drilling moratorium, ‘I know this creates difficulty.’ Hopefully those affected will understand that it has to be done.
“Along with the pipelines, I am also closing the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, or LOOP. Through that port travels some 15 percent of America’s crude oil supply, as it comes in from foreign countries. I am concerned about another oil spill, amid the disaster of the BP spill. When the moratorium is lifted, we’ll consider reopening LOOP.
“And finally, I am closing Louisiana’s 17 operating oil refineries for inspection. Those 17 refineries comprise nearly 20 percent of America’s total refining capacity. I recognize that in doing so, I will likely impose a major shock on America’s economy. I’m sure it will create difficulty. But as the President said, it’s time for America to move away from an oil-based economy. Thanks to his inspiration, it’s time for America to see what such a future looks like.
“As I’ve said, these actions are in furtherance of the President’s new agenda announced last week. As I’ve said, I am fully on board with that agenda and I am willing to follow the President as he charts this new course. I am following his lead. What that means is if the President believes his agenda needs modification I will support him. If he feels that the offshore moratorium should be lifted so that the 50,000-100,000 Louisiana jobs it is destroying can be saved, then I will support him by lifting my ban on pipelines, refineries and the LOOP.
“Either way, it’s the President’s call. I look forward to his leadership on this issue and I’m happy to work with him. I’m just a phone call away; he can direct me as he sees fit.”