Steve May

Note to gov: shut up and listen

by Steve May

In today’s Advocate, op-ed page columnist Lanny Keller nails -- in his distinctive, witty style -- what is probably the biggest obstacle facing our enormously talented, freshly minted young governor in his ultimate quest for the presidency: his propensity to over-talk and under-listen. I’ve seen amazingly little in south Louisiana mainstream media (including this paper) about Jindal’s obvious problem, but Keller’s “Inside Report” column lays it out with refreshing, dry style.

Keller quotes conservative national columnist Cal Thomas who, like Jindal, was also on hand to speak in Baton Rouge recently at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry's annual meeting. “I had a wonderful interview with your governor," said Thomas. “Forty-five minutes, one question.”

Keller’s piece opens with, “Memo to meeting planners: Invite the governor at your own risk,” and continues with nuggets like, “Whether in the audience or at the podium, one of the most-dreaded phrases in the Jindal administration has to include, ‘I just want to make five or six more quick points.’”

Later, Keller writes, “The audience of business people was almost entirely Jindal enthusiasts. At least at the start. Many of them work for companies, so they know the feeling of sitting at an event that is run with the give-and-take of one of Saddam Hussein’s Cabinet meetings.”

It’s funny and painful at the same time. The 37-year-old governor is a hugely talented, ambitious guy with -- in all probability -- a great national-level future. But as Keller points out, “This is not simply a matter of style. The governor typically will filibuster so long, and scoot out of meetings so quickly, that he’s not there long enough to do any listening, or — heaven forfend! — answer questions.”

Someone close to the gov needs to tell him — before Jan. 22, when he'll be in Lafayette delivering the keynote address at the chamber's annual banquet.