I hear America singing

The new issue of the Weekly Standard is full of good stuff. Reuel Marc Gerecht has an excellent article on Iraq: “The long, hard slog.” The article takes up the challenge of Secretary Rumsfeld’s leaked memo to assess our position in the war: “The war that is being waged against the United States and its allies in Iraq isn’t primarily a jihad fought by Holy War, Inc., which is the leitmotif of al Qaeda. What we are seeing in Iraq now is operationally what we saw in Lebanon in the early 1980s. Then, Iran and Syria aided and abetted others in hammering us. The terrorism worked and set in motion, among moderate and radical Sunnis and Shiites alike, the belief that the United States couldn’t hold its ground against determined men of faith.”
Fred Barnes takes notice of Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal in “Louisiana’s rising star,” an article that is not available online to nonsubsribers. Here are a few highlights: “Louisiana often produces exotic political creatures like Edwin Edwards and David Duke, both now in jail, or even the current Republican governor Mike Foster, best known for his political incorrectness. But Jindal is as different from them as one could get. Rather than a good old boy or a scoundrel, he’s a 32-year-old policy wonk who’s never before run for office. He’s a graduate of Brown University in Rhode Island and an expert on health care. He’s an Indian American whose parents moved to Baton Rouge just before he was born. And Jindal is a thoroughgoing conservative.
“Jindal has an extraordinary life story. His given first name is Piyush, but at age 4 he decided to change it to Bobby. In high school, he abandoned his parents’ Hindu faith and converted to Catholicism. (His father is an engineer, his mother an assistant secretary in the Louisiana state labor department.) By the time he graduated from Baton Rouge High School, Jindal was a Republican. When he got to Brown–an eight-year medical program had attracted him–he naively asked about joining the College Republicans. There was no chapter at Brown. The Republican club Jindal subsequently helped found grew, he says, to 300 members, a surprisingly large membership for a liberal Ivy League school.
“His post-Brown career has been dizzying. Instead of pursuing medicine, Jindal studied at Oxford for two years as a Rhodes Scholar, worked the next two years for McKinsey, the business consulting firm, and at age 24 returned to Baton Rouge to take over, at Foster’s urging, the mammoth Department of Health and Hospitals. There, he transformed a $400 million deficit into a $220 million surplus…
“He’s issued lengthy position papers on health care, ethics, economic opportunity, the environment, schools, and religious faith. These were packaged together last week in a glossy 24-page booklet entitled ‘The Jindal Blueprint for Louisiana–A Bold New Vision.’ Most notable is the section on ‘defending the role of faith and values in our state.’ In it, he tells how a friend led him to Christian faith. ‘Today, my faith in Jesus Christ is central to who I am, and I pray regularly for God’s wisdom in all the parts of my life,’ he says.
“Jindal says he became a Republican as a teenager for two reasons. In Louisiana, with its history of political corruption, Republicans are the reform party. Also, they’re the champions of opportunity. ‘I’d seen what great opportunity my father had [in America] as an engineer,’ he said in an interview. His mother has succeeded in state government, he said, and ‘I’m running for governor. This is an amazing country.'”
As Yogi Berra said of the election of a Jewish mayor of Dublin, “Only in America.” Any appropriate soundtrack for Jindal’s campaign would necessarily feature Cajun/Zydeco music, but the highlight of this issue of the Standard is an excellent piece on the current renaissance of bluegrass music: “Music, American style.” Perfect!

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