Jeremy Alford

Another Great Communicator?

by Jeremy Alford

While Gov. Bobby Jindal may have set the bar high for ethics and transparency in his administration, it was already set low for oratory prowess when he took office. His Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Blanco, wasn’t known for compelling speeches.

In Jindal’s speech to open his second special session last night, the Republican governor was interrupted no less than a dozen times by applause — and one quasi-standing ovation. When he told lawmakers that Louisiana’s good-government rankings had been boosted as a result of last month’s ethics session, his entire cabinet, seated at the back of the House chamber, clapped and rose to its feet. Representatives and senators kept to their seats.

Nonetheless, the speech was tightly written and welcomed warmly by lawmakers. Whether or not it was the recent comparison drawn by conservative mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh, Jindal also sounded quite Reaganesque in his address — declaring that “state government is in the way” of economic development and prompting cheers with repetitive one-liners.

Reading from a teleprompter on the Lower Chamber’s floor, Jindal illustrated problems, then urged lawmakers, “That must change.” The phrase was uttered seven times during his speech. In his last special session address in February, Jindal had another mantra for lawmakers: “Be bold.”

It seems to be a pattern for Jindal and mirrors the same rhythm used to perfection by former President Ronald Reagan, known as “The Great Communicator” by his GOP faithful. As for whether impassioned rhetoric will help Jindal pass his new legislative package, that’s an entirely different matter.