Media: Meet Gov. Bobby Jindal, Washington Outsider (try to contain your laughter)

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

I'll let others dissect Gov. Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's address last night. After all, plenty of folks have been picking it apart... whether it's for accuracy, messaging or style.

Over the past few days I've seen some in the media describe Gov. Jindal or his selection to deliver the Republican response thusly (emphasis added):

MSNBC's Chris Matthews:

"In every area that was touched on, they had to get an outside guy. They had to outsource the response tonight, the Republican Party. They had to outsource it to someone who had nothing to do with Congress because the Republicans in Congress had nothing to do with the programs he was talking about tonight or the record he referred to." (MSNBC, Post-Speech Coverage, 2/24/09)

Politico's Alexander Burns & Alex Isenstadt:

"Perhaps most importantly for his future national prospects, he hails from outside of Washington -- a strong asset to a party that has been suffered from its close identification with Beltway politics." (Politico, Bobby Jindal's big moment, 2/22/09)

New York Times' Jeff Zeleny:

"Republican leaders in the House and the Senate turned to a rising voice outside of Washington to deliver the party's response to the address. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said Republicans were also focused on trying to rebuild the economy, but he criticized Democrats for turning to government programs — and spending — to deal with the nation's challenges, calling such an approach irresponsible." (New York Times, Obama Vows, 'We Will Rebuild' and 'Recover', 2/25/09)

Get the message? Gov. Jindal is an outsider devoid of any connection to those unpopular Congressional Republicans.

There's one small problem with that description. It just isn't true. If anyone in the media thinks for a minute that describing Gov. Jindal in this fashion is accurate, they should bear in mind the following:

  • Bobby Jindal was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2001 to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.
  • Bobby Jindal was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 as a Republican, taking over for now-Senator David Vitter and serving until January of 2008. (Something even the right-wing Newsbusters felt important enough to point out, though they got the years of his service wrong.)
  • Bobby Jindal, upon coming to Congress in 2004, was elected Republican Freshman Class president by his GOP colleagues. How outsidery.
  • Bobby Jindal, while in Congress, voted with Congressional Republicans, the ones he is soooo far away from now, an average of nearly 89% of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly's annual review (password required) of votes.
  • Bobby Jindal, while in Congress, collected campaign contributions from notorious sources like disgraced former Majority Leader and consummate GOP insider Tom Delay's ARMPAC (PDF).
  • Bobby Jindal, as noted above, only left Congress last year when he became Governor of Louisiana -- happy Mardi Gras!

With deep ties like these to Washington, former President Bush and Congressional Republicans, how anyone in the press could infer that Gov. Jindal is an "outsider" is beyond me.

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