Governor Jindal obviously had a hard row to hoe. He was following one of the best political speakers of our time, who has enormous personal popularity right now. Worse for Jindal and the GOP in general, we want to believe in President Obama. We want him to show us the way out of the current mess the nation, and the world, is in. So Jindal would have had to really hit it out of the park to just avoid losing ground even if Obama only gave an average speech.
Unfortunately for Jindal, Obama didn’t give an average speech, even for him. It didn’t have the punch of the 2004 convention speech, or even his acceptance speech last August. But it hit the people more strongly than his inauguration speech. That was easy to see watching MSNBC and their graph of reactions from both Obama and McCain voters, and is even more apparent on CNN’s Report Card on the speech.
Of course, Jindal did not help himself at all with the actual speech. Complaining about a non-existent maglev rail planned between Disneyland and Las Vegas, and about a volcano monitoring provision that has saved lives in the past, is not a good way to establish that people should trust you. Especially when you are the governor of a state that not only relies on hurricane warnings, but also has an actual high-speed rail corridor included in the latest proposals.
And the response to the speech has not been pretty. While Paul Krugman is a liberal, so can be expected to not care for Jindal’s speech, the Republican side has not been all that nice either. In fact, he has been panned by about everybody that has the stage to do so.
It is really hard to believe that someone so intelligent and capable could be so tone deaf. But it is a long time until 2012, so it is likely that the governor will be able to shine up his image, removing some of the tarnish that was applied last night. But he will have to stop repeating GOP talking points and be a leader in order to do that.