Now hereâs a worthy project: Speaking to the Republican National Committee recently, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal declared that it was time for the GOP to âstop being the stupid party. Itâs time for a new Republican Party that talks like adultsâ¦We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. Weâve had enough of that.â
Perhaps not surprisingly, there were few cheers. Todayâs GOP thrives on idiot contumely. Nor did the crowd applaud Jindalâs pronouncement that Republicans âmust not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thriveâ¦We are a populist party and need to make that clear.â
Now exactly what Jindal means by a populist GOP is almost as interesting as what he thinks would constitute an intelligent political conversation. Apart from those attention-getting pronouncements, his speech was basically what youâd expect from a Louisiana governor to a Republican Party shell-shocked by President Obamaâs decisive re-election.
You know, Washington bad, Baton Rouge good; taxes bad, business good, government wicked. A lifetime public employee, Jindal scorns the federal governmentâexcept, of course, he wants to be president.
Despite Jindalâs superficial appeal, the idea that any Deep South governor advocating the policies heâs championed would be considered a viable candidate for the presidency in 2016 speaks volumes about the Republican Partyâs refusal to face reality.
But more about that anon.
Republicans have committed the unpardonable political sin: they believed their own propaganda. Many can scarcely comprehend how most Americans see things.
Last week Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote something shrewd about the right-wing fixation with President Obamaâs otherness. It was always a mistake, she said, to claim âthat heâs a Muslim, heâs a Kenyan, heâs working out his feelings about colonialism. Those charges were meant to marginalize him, but they didnât hurt him. They damaged Republicans, who came to see him as easy to defeat.â
They also hurt Republicans among voters who wondered about the character, motives and competence of people who ranted about transparently false allegations.
However, Noonan then proceeded to conjure her own imaginary Obama: a hardcore leftist determined to redistribute income from rich to poor, the striving middle class be damned. ââYou didnât build that,ââ she wrote âare the defining words of his presidency.â
Thatâs right, conspiracy buffs. To Noonan, President Obamaâs political legacy consists of a truncated quote yanked out of context to distort his plain meaning: basically that the best restaurant in town couldnât thrive if customers had to bush hog their own roads to get there.