When oil began spewing from the BP well in the gulf, Bobby Jindal was quick to react. He was not going to allow another catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina to damage his political career. He would use this threat as an opportunity to boost his career. Suddenly he was all over the news. Although this spill was caused by a multi-billion dollar U.K. corporation, Jindal was quick to skewer the U.S. government.
You see in the alternate universe of the Ronald Reagan inspired Tea Party, the government is never there to solve problems; it is the problem. Jindal was quick to insist that sand berms be built. The government experts said it was a boondoggle, but what do Tea Partiers care about those pointy-headed scientists? What do they know?
Jindal achieved his objective: he got a nice political boost; he appeared on TV like a strong leader who was standing up to the evil forces of the U.S. government. His fortunes were not hampered by the inconvenient truth that those berms ended up capturing “a ‘minuscule’ amount of petroleum at an ‘overwhelmingly expensive’ cost,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The news of how he spent taxpayers money foolishly in order to further his career will not likely cause much of a stir. Few news people will dare to even suggest that there was anything unethical about it. Not many will even hear about it. Certainly not as many people will hear about this compared to the number of people who saw him during the crisis. Politicians know that petulance is rewarded because people gather around to see what’s going on in the midst of a crisis, but they bore quickly. They are quick to seek out new sensational news, so the result is that few stick around to see what happens in the aftermath of a crisis.
Although I consider this situation to be a testimony about Bobby Jindal’s ethics. He is not the real problem here. There will always be Bobby Jindals around to take advantage of the public. The problem lies with us. We need to break our addiction to quick and dirty entertainment distilled from reality. When news and scandals become sport, we begin to lose our perspective. We begin to believe convictions born in the heat of the moment, and those beliefs result in political actions that ensure long careers for people like Bobby Jindal.