Judging Obama and Jindal

Both President Obama's State of the Nation address and Governor Jindal's response on behalf of the GOP were past my bedtime, so I was only able to read both the following day. Some pros and cons on both sides:

* I appreciated Obama's recognition that we are where we are because we have delayed the tough choices. The notion that the "day of reckoning has arrived" is something I had posted on previously. But easy for me to say; hard for an elected official, let alone the President of the United States, to make sure everyone understands we're all complicit in this.

* I also appreciated Obama's commitment to transparency and accountability. Having delved a little into the mechanics of the stimulus bill, I understand that there are unprecedented measures in place to ensure that decision-makers accept responsibility for where the money goes, an equally unprecedented measures in place to ensure that John Q. Public can follow where the money goes. This is very promising.

* Some of Obama's tough talk rang hollow for me. His railing on profligate CEOs comes barely a month after his own $150 million inauguration (more than the last three inaugurations combined!). And his recognition that other countries are innovating in renewable energies is spot-on, except that he also supports protectionist policies and panders to the very addiction to cheap energy that keeps domestic companies from having a sufficient local market to have a motive to produce these technologies.

* Jindal gets points for owning up to the Republican Party's recent betrayal of Republican values: limited government, fiscal discipline, personal responsibility. His own experience in Louisiana in these areas has been mixed, but not for lack of trying. I appreciate that.

* On the other hand, after 10 seconds of watching the video of his speech, I said, "Uh oh." Next to Obama, anyone is going to look bad as a speaker; but Jindal was painful to watch. Especially if you're a young up-and-comer, you have to be able to project authority authentically, and simultaneously seem trustworthy, competent, approachable, and dignified. Hard to do, I know, but Obama hits it out of the park every single time. Jindal struggled - he seemed young, preachy, out of his league. At 36, he has plenty of time; but he'll need some more seasoning and some more time in the oven. (Translation: maybe not ready for prime-time in 2012, but don't bet against him in 2016.)
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