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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Government: What We Can Achieve

Between speeches last night, my wife and I joked about why the Republicans hadn't given Alaska Governor Sarah Palin the national spotlight again to rebut President Barack Obama's address to Congress. After watching Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's laughable performance, from his awkward Bush-walk to the camera to the stilted Saturday Night Live delivery, we wonder if maybe Jindal didn't just raise Palin's stock.

The howler of the night: Jindal's revisionist leap of logic in claiming that the federal government's botched response to Hurricane Katrina proves that government can't rescue us from the current economic crisis.

The rhetorical imagery almost works, until you say two words: Bush Administration. The Republican Party would take the failure of one of its own, George W. Bush, and spin it as proof that government doesn't work.

If anything, Katrina more directly proves that putting people at the helm who don't believe in steering the ship of state, who don't even think the ship is sound, is a recipe for trouble.

Did Jindal even listen to the President's speech?

History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle class in history. (Applause.) And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn't supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive [President Barack Obama, address to Congress, transcript via CBSNews.com, 2009.02.24].

Heck, did Jindal listen to his own speech?

This is the nation that cast off the scourge of slavery, overcame the Great Depression, prevailed in two World Wars, won the struggle for civil rights, defeated the Soviet menace, and responded with determined courage to the attacks of September 11, 2001 [Governor Bobby Jindal, attempted rebuttal to the President, transcript via CNN.com, 2009.02.24].

Railroads, public high schools, GI Bill, interstate highways, Apollo—President Obama pointed to examples par excellence of government at its best. Governor Jindal concluded with a list of historic achievements that required government coordination.

Governor Jindal and his collapsing party, desperate for some way to destroy this new President, continue to engage in empty rhetoric that misses a fundamental political truth: Government is not an alien monster. Government is the tool we the people create to solve problems and achieve great goals we cannot handle by ourselves.

We can have a fair debate about just which problems government has a proper role in tackling. But government is what we make it. If we think government is a failure and elect people who share that view, we can expect dysfunctional government. If we put on our "Yes We Can" hats and elect folks who want to make government work, we can use government to make America better.


  1. You just stated clearly the difference between our philosophies when you said we can debate what gov't should be involved and that gov't is of our making. This is my point. I prefer a small gov't that has less bureacracy and rewards individaul responsiblity. I don't want a gov't that creates dependency on it with ever expanding federal programs and ever higher taxes.

    Obama wants more gov't, more control of individuals and state, higher taxes, i.e. socialism. They want to take from the producers and give to the gimme's.

    Conservatives want less gov't, less taxes, more personal responsibility, less gov't control of our lives.

    Obama thinks that throwing money at us will solve the problems. It will simply create more debt for future generations. O is a great orator (with the help of his teleprompter) but great oratory does not a great leader make. And I think we are beginning to see that. Actually, some of us saw that a long time ago.

  2. Reagan had it right, "we are the government and we are here to help."

    The scariest words ever uttered.

    Katrina is an excellent example of the government at work, not George Bush. I hate to break your bleeding liberal heart, but good old George could not just wave a magic wand and make the government work efficiently. No one, not even the "messiah" Obama has that power.

    The reason why capitalism works the best is that people have a vested interest in the results. If I am a business owner, I want my business to succeed and I will work hard to make it that way. If I know the government will be there to bail me out if I fail, then there is not enough risk to force me to succeed.

    The same way with government programs. If the government is going to take care of me, why should I have to take care of myself? If I know I am going to starve, then there is a pretty good incentive to get off my buttocks and do something about it.

    As anonymous said, personal responsibility is what will get us out of the mess. The thought of starving will motivate us to take risks.

    "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

  3. I thought that was a very unusual "American Idol" last night. Randy thought, "The Obama Dog is back in the dog pound." Paula said, "I liked this version of (Tax and Spend) especially since the stimulus would include more money for prescription drugs. Finally, Simon thought, "It was horrible and quite self indulgent."

  4. Can someone please tell Bobby J. that no matter how hard you want to look (or just lie), there is no 8 billion dollar earmark for a train from Disney land to Vegas in the Stimulus Bill.

  5. While I'll agree Jindal was less that stellar, I was not impressed with Obama's empty promises either. One month into his presidency and he has already broken several campaign promises.

    There will be no pork in the spending (I refuse to call it stimulus, it is not)bill. The spending bill is nothing but pork and will not stimulate the economy. Case in point the stock market, the single best indicator of the current state of affairs is still very volatile.

    Another is I will post all bills on the internet for the public to view 5 full days before I sign them. This was not the case for the spending bill. Senators and Representatives received a copy of the bill about 1 day before the scheduled vote. The bill was over 1000 pages, I wonder how many that voted Yes (Johnson and Herseth) knew what they were voting for.

    I will not appoint any lobbyists to my cabient. Ahh not only is that a false statement but several appointees were also tax cheats. I don't buy the argument Dashcle did not know.

    Last nights speech, all the promises, I will believe it when I see it.

  6. "Take from the producers and give to the gimme's": What about the disparity between worker pay and executive pay, which has expanded tremendously in the last 20 years. That's fair? The greed that took us down. That's fair?

    This Jindal performed an exorcism in college on a friend. Sounds a little odd.

  7. I won't argue that executive pay many times is too high, and we have seen examples of that lately all over the place. But I don't think that give the gov't reason to socialize banks, expand gov't gimme porgrams, increase taxes (and yes, he is doing this regardless of what he refers to as his "tax breaks", i.e. welfare for most of the receivers of this).

    Another lie is the earmarks in the porky pig bill. I know O said there weren't any, but it's just semantics in his case. A pig is a pig regardless of breed.

  8. The rhetorical imagery almost works, until you say two words: Bush Administration.

    Who is Bush?

  9. I bet Jindal actually writes his own speeches, and doesn't use a teleprompter like Obama does.

  10. Anon 3:10: Does it help you get through the day to make up stuff like that? All personal, all wish, no substance. You offer no basis for either claim. Every major politician gets help writing speeches (they are busy people). Every major politician makes use of the TelePrompter on TV, even Jindal.

    Most importantly, what you say has nothing to do with how we can use government to tackle big problems.

  11. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/02/24/obamas-speaking-skills-open-debate/

    here you go, cory.

    anon 3:10

  12. From Anon's link (which still doesn't substantiate his wishful thinking): "Obama's inaugural address, delivered with a teleprompter, was not considered his most moving speech. But two weeks later, without a prompter, he made an impassioned push for his stimulus plan at a retreat held by congressional Democrats."

    Just can't stay on topic, can you, Anon? Whether the President speaks from a teleprompter, notecards, or the top of his head, he still leads the government, an organization capable of great mistakes but also great success, depending on what we make it.

  13. you have compared Kristi Noem to Alaska governor Sarah Palin, but do you think Noem could be the next governor of South Dakota ?

  14. "Whether the President speaks from a teleprompter, notecards, or the top of his head, he still leads the government, an organization capable of great mistakes but also great success, depending on what we make it."

    Wrong, it's not what we make it, it's what he and Congress make it. We common people who disagree with his view of expanded gov't have little say in what happens. The only avenue I see is to stop paying taxes. If enough of us got together to do that, we might have a say in making it what we want. Until then, we are at the mercy of the little dictator from the east.

  15. Jindal reminded me of a beady eyed robot.


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