When I saw Bobby Jindal (R-Governor of Louisiana) on Meet the Press yesterday I was pretty interested in seeing what he had to say; he is supposed to be the “It Boy” of the Republican Party, the exciting up and comer, their Barack Obama. I’d never heard him speak at length and was anxious to hear what all of the fuss was about, particulary in light of his recent, seemingly stupid decision to not take sums of unemployment funds from Obama’s stimulus package.
Suffice it to say, I was left feeling wanting. Jindal seemed like a has-been already, buying into the outplayed ideas the GOP if trying to rebrand. I’ll let Joe Klein speak for me:
At one point in the interview, Jindal — who seems to be running for President — trotted out the standard Republican boilerplate about the need for a package with more tax cuts, especially in the capital gains tax. David Gregory pointed out that we’d just had eight years of that philosophy, and it hadn’t done very much to help job creation or median incomes. Jindal resorted to the Republican fantasy playbook — to the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts, which allegedly helped boost the economy. (Actually, it was the Carter-Volcker monetary reforms that set the economy on a more stable path for growth in the early 1980s.) Needless to say, Jindal didn’t mention either the Reagan tax increases (proportionately the largest in U.S. history) or the slightly smaller Clinton increases, which led to the lowering of interest rates and the economic boom of the 1990’s. Nor did he mention the 30 years of neglect the nation’s infrastructure has suffered during the Reagan era — not just the neglect of roads and bridges and levees, but also of the sorts of high-tech and green infrastructure programs (including mass transit and high-speed rail) that will lay the basis for a more efficient economy in the future.
In other words, Jindal — the alleged voice of the GOP future — had absolutely nothing new to say. And what he did say, about the stimulus, was purposefully misleading. I’m not sure how well the Obama stimulus, banking and budget plans will work. No one does. But I do know how the philosophy and the misleading politics that Jindal offered today has worked in the recent past.
It’s been a disaster.
Thanks to Steve Benen for the link. He makes a great point as well, one that is of foremost importance to the Republican Party if they aim to make a comeback before the next time Haley’s Comet comes around:
This seems to happen a lot. A “rising star” in Republican politics decides he or she should be on the national stage; drops any pretense of intellectual seriousness; and trades the respect of credible observers for the adoration of the Republican base.
We saw this same pattern with John McCain, who also quickly made a similar transition in preparation for 2008, and even George W. Bush in 2000, who had plenty of admirers in the political establishment, which characterized Bush as having a reputation as a moderate, pragmatic governor.
Charlie Crist was also a guest on Meet the Press yesterday. His interview with David Gregory was preceded by a snippet from an Alex Castellanos column in which Castellanos criticized Crist for not supporting the GOP in their moment of unity on the stimulus. He went on to say that Crist will have trouble with the national Republican party if he continues on this path (sorry, paraphrasing, no link).
I don’t know. Perhaps Charlie Crist doesn’t want to be associated with the national Republican party because its full of people pushing the furthers of crazy right wing ideologies. The thing is, if this is how the GOP sees the next four years going, the only people left to vote in the Republican primary are going to be those with crazy right wing ideologies. That’s a very small tent indeed, if this past election was any indication. To win the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2012, you’ll need to be that far out — and that much of a loser in the general.
Charlie Crist is extremely popular in Florida. He’s done exactly what I think we would expect politicians (on either side of the aisle) to do when an extremely popular president needs support in a time of crisis: lended a hand. And he’s only gained political capital in his state by doing so. Whether that launches him to the national stage or not, he’s done enough to garner a few “Profiles in Courage” accolades. That’s more than we can say for Bobby Jindal, who is sure to incur ire and wrath in Louisiana for putting ideology ahead of his consituents.