What governor had the temerity to set limitations on what a sitting American president could say during a state visit?
The governor in question is Louisiana's Bobby Jindal. He took the occasion to breach traditional political etiquette as well as respect for the Oval Office. In a letter to the president, Jindal warned Obama not to mention climate change in a New Orleans-based speech commemorating the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It was embarrassingly transparent grandstanding to shift the spotlight away from Obama's visit and energize Jindal's sputtering presidential campaign.
The Louisiana governor began the letter by welcoming Obama to the city, but the prose went downhill from there. It was laden with snide jibes at Obama, some subtle, some not so subtle. There was a back-handed swipe at Obama's home town of Chicago compared to New Orleans, and an admonition not to "lecture" on climate change since that would somehow "diminish" Louisiana's hurricane recovery effort.
Jindal wrote that the "hope and change" Obama promised to deliver was attained by the people of New Orleans quite nicely on their own, thank you.
In his letter, Jindal cautioned Obama not to politicize the celebration of the city's recovery.
"There is a time and place for politics, but this is not it," the governor intoned. He then proceeded to rattle off what he considered to be his political accomplishments, especially in relation to the state's economy and educational programs. Following that recitation is when he advised Obama to refrain from including climate change in any speech to the crowds in New Orleans.
Here was a governor under whose aegis the state of Louisiana was continuing to lose industrial-ravaged coastline daily to climate change-related rising sea levels. No wonder Jindal did not want Obama to touch on the topic.
While Jindal urged Obama to skip any reference to environmental controversies, such a code of silence did not apply to the governor. In his letter he offered his own take on climate change, launching a partisan rant in which he accused Obama of trying to "legislate away hurricanes with higher taxes, business regulation, and EPA power grabs."
Jindal "requested" that Obama not inject the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism" into the visit.
If Obama ignored this advice and instead incorporated partisan politics into his New Orleans speech, Jindal warned, he would "meet with nothing but derision."
Did Obama bow to Jindal's admonitions and omit a caution about the climate change threat in saluting the city's recovery?
Gubernatorial censorship wasn't Obama's "cup of tea"--and the president was met with applause, not "derision."