Friday, February 27, 2009

Jindal Katrina Story: What Likely Happened

1. Sheriff Lee lined up private boats for rescue
2. Bureaucrat said private boats could not go out due to lack of insurance or permits
3. Sheriff Lee sent boats out anyway
4. A few days later, bureaucrat was on phone complaining to Lee when Jindal walked into Lee’s office. Lee was excitable, was not interested in listening to more complaining from bureaucrat, and issued challenge: come arrest both me and Congressman Jindal if you don’t like it.

5. Gov. Jindal tells story in Tuesday night's SOU response. In context, Jindal is making a point about government bureaucracy not being the answer to the nation's problems. Jindal concluded:
And before I knew it, he [Sheriff Harry Lee] was yelling into the phone: 'Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!' Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people. 
Gov. Jindal, from one sentence to the next, jumped backward in time: from b) Sheriff Lee's conversation in Jindal's presence, backward in time to a) Sheriff Lee's decision, a few days previously, to send out the boaters sans insurance and permits. 

Jindal's jump backward in time might've been part of a striving for brevity. No sense in bogging down an entire speech with this story.

Or, Jindal, in a possible attempt at self promotion, might've cleverly allowed listeners to jump to the conclusion that he was a semi-hero who helped get the boats released to go rescue people.

The full text of Jindal's speech remarks about this are here (plus video of Dem. Sheriff Lee endorsing Jindal for Governor, and heavily praising Jindal for his work during Katrina).  Jindal Chief of Staff Tim Teepell backs up Jindal's story, says he was in Lee's office when phone call occurred.

6.  Politico blog, reacting to left blogosphere questions about timelines of when Jindal visited Sheriff Lee vs when the rescue boats went out, investigated and accused Gov. Jindal of exaggerating/lying via painting himself as a semi hero who helped get the boats released to the rescue.  

I commend Politico for journalistic investigative effort.  However, now that Jindal  aide Teepell is speaking up, now that the story timeline is falling into place in Jindal's favor, Politico is slow to give up the ghost of their unsubstantiated (imo) allegation that Jindal was untruthful.  There's no way for Politico to prove that Jindal's point was I am the great rescuer Bobby Jindalas opposed to being  Government bureaucracy is not the answer. Politico cannot read Jindal's mind - and therefore, with the appearance of Teepell, Politico no longer has a story.

And that's what likely happened.  Media (new media) are attacking a rising Republican star, and are refusing to back down in face of new and seemingly exculpating evidence.   Kerfuffle!  Dog bites man Sarah Palin.


Repack Rider said...

It's clear that what Jindal told was not "the truth" in the sense that it was what actually happened. It's what Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness," a crunchy, good tasting story that illustrates a point without actually being, you know, TRUE.

You can rationalize why he would write down and then read something he knew not to be true, but the old adage applies: "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

Now that the Jindal staff is on the third or fourth version of what "actually" happened, we can rest assured that the original tale didn't.

gcotharn said...


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your opinion. I simply disagree, for this reason:

We can only accuse Jindal of lying if we read his mind and say: Jindal intended to represent that his presence and his words helped get the rescue boats sent out.

Yet, the point of Jindal's story could easily have been (and was, imo) that government bureaucracy is not the solution to the nation's problems. Because we cannot read Jindal's mind, there is no story.

I agree with you that added muddle and complexity are usually indications of a guilty politician attempting to escape culpability. However, in this case, I say the muddle results from Politico refusing to recognize that they no longer have a story.

Thanks again for coming by. I hope we can disagree and still respect each other.