*Jindal’s berm boondoggle

JINDAL’S BERM BOONDOGGLE…. The BP oil-spill disaster from the summer has largely faded from public view, but it’s worth pausing to appreciate what we’ve learned about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who thinks he did a terrific job responding to the disaster.

Periodically, revelations about Jindal and the spill have been embarrassing for him. We learned that he sent a fraction of the available National Guard troops to the coast to aid in the response, for example. We also learned that the governor rejected bipartisan calls for transparency on spill-related public records, preferring secrecy. There was the unfortunate news that Jindal and his team never actually got around to creating a spill-response plan, and was forced to wing it when disaster struck.

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And then, there are Jindal’s beloved sand berms, which Rachel Maddow highlighted in a great segment a couple of days ago. Jindal, railing against those rascally federal officials who lacked his wisdom and foresight, was absolutely convinced that miles of artificial sand berms in the Gulf would work wonders. He transformed himself, as Rachel put it, into “uniformed action man.”

People who knew what they were talking about insisted this was an awful plan that wouldn’t work. Again quoting Rachel, “Because expert opinion was uniformly against the cockamamie sand berm scheme, the federal government was against it. And if the federal government was against it, then that’s the fight that Bobby Jindal wanted to fight. Otherwise, how could conservative uniformed action man be seen railing against federal red tape for political purposes?”

Nevertheless, through his “leadership” (I use the word loosely), Jindal fought long enough and hard enough to actually get what he wanted — and the idea failed. The bipartisan commission investigating the disaster and the response concluded that the berms weren’t effective at all. The panel said last week it “can comfortably conclude that the decision to green light the underwhelmingly effective, overwhelmingly expectative Louisiana berm project was flawed.”

Indeed, at Jindal’s behest, BP invested triple the amount of funds on these berms as it did on any other response.

So, everybody makes mistakes. Jindal thought he knew what to do, and he made a tough call, which turned out to be wildly wrong. He’s human and did his best, right? Well, perhaps, but it’d be much easier to cut the governor some slack if he realized he made a mistake. Instead, Jindal’s doing the opposite — calling his berm boondoggle a “great success,” that he’s “thrilled” to have come up with. Jindal even has a book about how successful he was at the time.

Rachel concluded, “For the Gulf, Bobby Jindal’s vanity sand berms were a disaster — a huge, risky useless waste pursued for a political point when the Gulf needed engineering that worked. But for Bobby Jindal, the $220 million sand berms did work. They worked for him.”