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Leadership and Crisis

Author: Bobby Jindal
Publisher: Regnery Publishing • 2010 • 256 pages
Leadership and Crisis

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal walks with a swagger on the cover of his new book — and comes out swinging on the pages inside.

The book was originally set for a July release with the title “Real Hope, Real Change.” But the release date was pushed back due to this summer’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now it will be released next week with the title “Leadership and Crisis,” with Jindal spending a significant portion of the book disparaging the federal government’s response to the spill. While Jindal isn’t always taking shots — he writes about growing up in Louisiana the son of immigrant parents, his Christian faith, his marriage and children — the book aims a good deal of criticism at Washington institutions. Here’s are five of his targets:

Obama: Jindal accuses the White House of “political posturing” and “making big decisions about an industry [oil] they knew little about.” He recounts being chastised by Obama just moments after the president landed for his first visit to Louisiana during the Gulf oil spill crisis. According to Jindal, Obama was upset because the governor had sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting that the federal government authorize the use of food stamps for those whose jobs disappeared because of the spill. “He was upset,” writes Jindal. “There was not a word about the oil spill. He was concerned about looking bad.” He also criticizes the administration for the moratorium placed on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the White House didn’t care that people could lose their jobs because of it. “They boldly went about making major decisions without really understanding the consequences of what they were doing.”

The Media: To point out that the national media is out of touch with most Americans, Jindal recounts having lunch with “a well-known reporter” from The Washington Post while he was serving at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC. Before eating, Jindal bowed his head and said grace. “She immediately asked me if everything was okay. She was startled and fascinated by what I had done,” Jindal writes, adding that they later became “good friends.” He also admits that although some national reporters are “condescending,” he actually has “always had a pretty decent relationship with the press.”

Congress: Jindal, who served three years in the House, writes that Congress is kind of “like the Middle East” because it “is plagued by ancient disputes and grievances.” While he acknowledges that members of Congress work hard, he compares them to “little kids” who often “place their own political interests ahead of their constituents.”

Europe: In a chapter titled “Do We Really Want to Be Like Europe?,” Jindal writes that the European Union has become a “tyranny” run by unelected bureaucrats. While EU countries do have “many strengths and positive attributes,” they have become “satisfied managing their declines” and “redistributing instead of creating.”

“Men Behaving Badly”: This group includes a host of familiar, sex scandal-plagued politicians, such as John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, John Edwards and Bill Clinton. “Taking advantage of others, or exploiting powerful positions to enrich ourselves or to feed our own appetites, is the opposite of real leadership,” he writes. Newt Gingrich, who was having his own affair while investigating Bill Clinton’s, is left off the list of “men behaving badly.” Gingrich isn’t absent from the book, however. He provides a back cover blurb. (“Bobby has emerged as one of the most talented, reform minded governors in the nation.”) He also criticizes former New York governor Eliot Spitzer for “getting caught with prostitutes.” Notably absent from the list is Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who in 2007 admitted to using the prostitution services of the “D.C. Madam.”

Book Review from The Washington Post, by Stephen Lowman

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