Budget crisis? Not according to Bobby Jindal and Kristy Nichols

Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols

Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols

By Robert Mann

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, wants you to know that everything is just fine. Sure, the state’s finances seem a mess. There’s been a parade of spending freezes and mid-year budget cuts, a surfeit of one-time money, erroneous revenue projections and crippling cutbacks for higher education and other areas.

But, seriously, don’t worry. Nichols says it’s all good.

It’s strange, but whenever Nichols speaks, I hear Stanley Motss, the fictional movie producer played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1997 film “Wag the Dog.”

It’s a classic comedy about a president who launches a phony war against Albania after he’s caught in a sex scandal weeks before his re-election. Campaign aides recruit Motss, a legendary Hollywood movie mogul, to manufacture a distracting, counterfeit conflict.

They stage a “war” and get their president re-elected, but Motss and his co-conspirators encounter crisis and calamity at every turn. When the CIA leaks word that the war has prematurely ended, Motss hilariously bucks up his dejected colleagues. “This is nothing!” he says with great cheer. When their private jet crashes, Motss and his friends sit among the smoldering wreckage, disconsolate and defeated. “This is nothing!” Motss insists.

Listen closely to Nichols when she’s questioned about her boss’ various budget misadventures. Like the self-deluded Motss, she can’t acknowledge reality. As the folly of Jindal’s budget schemes become increasingly evident, she essentially tells us, “This is nothing!”

Dustin Hoffman as Stanley Motss in "Wag the Dog."

Dustin Hoffman as Stanley Motss in “Wag the Dog.”

Last year, when legislators questioned using hundreds of millions in property sales and other one-time money to plug the 2013-14 budget, Nichols blithely assured them, “We have not put anything in the budget that isn’t expected to fully materialize.” That wasn’t the case, which is one reason why Nichols recently borrowed $70 million in so-called “seed money” from state Treasurer John Kennedy’s office to help the state’s universities survive the current fiscal year.

Continue reading at NOLA.com

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3 Responses to Budget crisis? Not according to Bobby Jindal and Kristy Nichols

  1. Stephen Winham says:

    I like the “Wag the Dog” comparisons.

    I can almost hear the the DeNiro character (Connie Brean) plotting the spin on this whole administration, including the budget.

    The budget has become a joke, though not a funny one.

    We would all be a lot better off if our budget crisis was an illusion like the war in “Wag the Dog”. Consider the following Brean and Motss dialog:

    Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Well, if Kissinger can win the Peace Prize, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up and find out I’d won the Preakness.

    Stanley Motss: Well, yes but, our guy DID bring peace.

    Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Yeah, but there wasn’t a war.

    Stanley Motss: All the greater accomplishment.


    • Robert Mann says:

      That movie is nothing but great lines like that. I show it to my class at LSU almost every year. It never gets old.


      • Milford Fryer says:

        While I appreciate the analogy with “Wag the Dog,” I think it conveys too much thought and sophistication to the issue at hand. I am reminded more of the Iraqi spokesman _ Baghdad Bob, I think _ who kept giving news reports that the battle was going well and the infidels were steadily being routed.


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