Obama unconnected to reality: Bobby Jindal

Saturday, November 13, 2010

WASHINGTON - Louisiana’s Indian American Governor Bobby Jindal has accused President Barack Obama of not being “connected to reality on the ground” during the Gulf oil spill and more focused on its political aftermath.

In a new book titled “Leadership and Crisis,” set to be released Monday, Jindal recounts a pair of private conversations with the president that paint him as consumed with how his actions were being perceived, Politico, the online political newspaper here, reported.

On Obama’s first trip to Louisiana after the disaster, the governor describes how the president took him aside on the tarmac after arriving to complain about a letter that Jindal had sent to the administration requesting authorisation for food stamps for those who had lost their jobs because of the spill.

As Jindal describes it, the letter was entirely routine, yet Obama was angry and concerned about looking bad. “Careful,” he quotes the president as warning him, “this is going to get bad for everyone.”

Jindal asserts that the White House had tipped off reporters to watch the exchange on the New Orleans tarmac that Sunday in May and deemed it a “press stunt” that symbolized what’s wrong with Washington.

“Political posturing becomes more important than reality,” he writes.

And after Obama instituted a moratorium on offshore drilling, Jindal recounts that the president dismissed his concerns about the economic impact of the ban.

“I understand you need to say all of this, I know you need to say this, that you are facing political pressure,” Jindal quotes Obama telling him. When the governor said he was concerned about people losing their jobs, he said the president cited national polls showing that people supported the ban.

“The human element seemed invisible to the White House,” he writes.

Asked to respond to Jindal’s assertions, Obama aides didn’t directly address either conversation but pointed to the president’s overall response to the spill, Politico said.

Jindal has criticised the administration in the past over the spill, but that he would do so at the outset of his book suggests he wants to raise his national profile - and perhaps seek national office, Politico said.

Arguing that Obama’s response to the disaster was a metaphor for what he described as the administration’s more fundamental problem, Jindal told the Politico: “They’re not connected to reality on the ground.”

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