In his new book, Leadership and Crisis, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal describes a scene that will not be unfamiliar to anyone who watched the president’s December 7 press conference. It was May 28, and President Obama was on his second trip to Louisiana during the BP oil spill. During a meeting with local officials there, President Obama singled out the governor and one of the parish presidents “and told us to stop going on television and criticizing him,” Jindal recalls. Quoting the president, Jindal continues:
“I go home every night and I see on TV people saying I’m not doing anything,” he said. “I don’t need to see you guys on CNN criticizing us.” For some reason he was particularly miffed that Billy was going on with Anderson Cooper. It was the oddest conversation. Actually, it was not really a conversation. It was more like a lecture. Before we had a chance to reply and explain that this seemed to be the only way to get federal action, the president adjourned the meeting. Again, the White House seemed to focus on the wrong things. I felt like we needed to be on a wartime footing against the oil, and the president was wondering, why is everybody criticizing me? The irony is that right after that exchange, someone from the White House staff came over to prepare us for the all important photo opportunity where the president would make remarks to the national press. The staff member was insistent that I stand next to the president. But before the photographers arrived, Florida Governor Charlie Crist edged me out of the way. I was happy to yield the ground.
And that is only a taste of the candid Leadership and Crisis, which Jindal wrote along with multi-book author Peter Schweizer and aide Curt Anderson. It’s also sarcastic and self-deprecating (like his math-tournament past and that State of the Union response), and it tells compelling stories. Stories of government inefficiencies and tragedies, but stories of redemption and reform, too. In an interview with National Review Online, Governor Jindal talks about the book and more.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What is your proudest accomplishment as governor?
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL: Making our economy one of the best in the nation and outperforming the country even during the national recession. Since taking office in 2008, we have announced economic-development wins that will create more than 38,000 new direct and indirect jobs for Louisiana workers and represent more than $7 billion in capital investment in our state. This represents thousands of Louisianans who will not have to leave our state to pursue their dreams. Both Site Selection and Pollina Corporate Real Estate recently designated Louisiana as the most improved state for business in the U.S., and Portfolio.com concluded that Louisiana ranked second-best in the U.S. in economic performance during the recession. These are the successes we must continue to build on.
LOPEZ: What frustrated you most about being governor?
GOV. JINDAL: That we will run out of time before we will run out of things to get done to move our state forward.
LOPEZ: Do you have advice for new members of the House of Representatives, where you once served?
GOV. JINDAL: Cut spending. Right away. That has to be the first priority for this new Congress. Closely after that must be to repeal Obamacare.