Bobby Jindal hits back at whining from the Barack Obama campaign over his response to Obama’s attack on Randy Scheuneman. On ABC’s This Week, Jindal was asked about a sharp retort from John McCain after Obama said that McCain was unduly influenced towards our ally because of Scheuneman’s prior work for the Republic of Georgia. Instead of taking that bait, Jindal pressed the experience advantage McCain has over Obama and why it mattered in this crisis:
ABC’s Jake Tapper: “When you heard me mention to Governor Richardson the Obama campaign attack against Senator McCain when it comes to the Russia/Georgia crisis, I want to now read you comments from the McCain campaign against Senator Obama: ‘The Obama campaign has offered nothing more than cheap and petty political attacks that are echoed only by the Kremlin. The reaction of the Obama campaign to this crisis, though at odds with our democratic allies and yet so bizarrely in sync with Moscow, doesn’t really raise questions about Senator Obama’s judgment; it answers them.’ I’ll put it to you. I didn’t really get an answer out of Governor Richardson, but I’ll put it to you. Is that really an appropriate response to a crisis this severe?”
Governor Jindal: “Well you know, Senator McCain first went to Georgia back in 1997. He, as soon as this crisis emerged in no uncertain terms, said that Russia should withdraw its forces, observe a cease-fire, suggested that there needed to be true international peacekeepers there. I think this is another example during these uncertain times, where we need experienced leadership. We need somebody like Senator McCain who will take a stronger view, a more experienced view, when it comes to international security and protecting America’s interest.
“I think during these kinds of uncertain times you want somebody with Senator McCain’s record of bringing real leadership, real reform to Washington. As one example, even fighting his own Administration, his own party, he stood for the surge in Iraq when it wasn’t popular to do so. Senator Obama, I think he’d have a lot more credibility if now he’d admit that the surge had actually worked. There’s nothing wrong with him saying he was wrong about it.
“So when it comes to the Georgia crisis, I think this is another good reason why the American voters are going to choose Senator McCain’s leadership. Not just political rhetoric. You know Senator Obama condemned the violence, and that’s a good thing, but we need to go beyond condemning the violence and actually offer solutions.”
Tapper: “So you don’t think that Senator Obama is echoing the Kremlin and has views that are bizarrely in sync with Moscow? Is it fair to say you don’t share that?”
Gov. Jindal: “I agree with what you asked Governor Richardson. I think it was wrong for Senator Obama to try to focus on a McCain adviser, rather than actually listening to what McCain had to say about the policy, rather than recognizing McCain’s years and years of experience when comes to international affairs. You know, this is a very serious international crisis. I think the administration has correctly sent word to Moscow, this is not acceptable. Georgia is a stalwart ally of ours, as you noted, they’ve sent troops to Iraq. They’re applying for membership to NATO. NATO has indicated that they would like them to become a member. They’re an example of Senator McCain’s push to spread democracy in that part of the world. There’s a very important advance of America’s interest as well as being good for international stability. So instead of trying to detract from the central issue, I wish Senator Obama had actually confronted the issue no t trying to detract our attention by focusing on a McCain adviser.”
Why attack Scheuneman for working on behalf of a democratic ally of the United States? It seems especially strange now, while the Russians drop bombs on civilian centers in Gori and Tbilisi, and most people understand Russian intent to keep Georgia from allying even closer with the West. Scheuneman certainly did nothing wrong in representing Georgia previous to his work for McCain, and Obama’s attack on McCain suggests that Obama doesn’t value Georgia’s friendship and doesn’t understand the strategic necessity of Georgian independence from Moscow.
Jindal uses that as subtext to explain everything wrong with Obama’s response over the last 48 hours. Instead of scolding Russians for attacking Georgia, he told Georgia to exercise restraint as Russian bombers attacked their civilians. Instead of supporting an ally, Obama attacked McCain’s adviser for his previous work for Georgia, an attack supported by current lobbyists for Russia.
Obama clearly has no idea of the issues or the consequences surrounding Putin’s South Ossetia adventure. He’s flailing for a policy, while McCain — who’s actually been to Georgia and studied the ongoing political conflict for a decade — understood immediately what the outbreak of war means, and what its motives are. Jindal does a good job here in driving that point home, while Obama continues to demonize lobbyists as his only response to every policy issue.
Politics of fear? That’s all Obama can sell.