Can Republicans Ever Stop Being The ‘Stupid Party’?January 30th, 2013 12:00 am Gene Lyons
Now here’s a worthy project: Speaking to the Republican National Committee recently, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal declared that it was time for the GOP to “stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults…We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. We’ve had enough of that.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, there were few cheers. Today’s GOP thrives on idiot contumely. Nor did the crowd applaud Jindal’s pronouncement that Republicans “must 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 thrive…We are a populist party and need to make that clear.”
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 you’d expect from a Louisiana governor to a Republican Party shell-shocked by President Obama’s decisive re-election.
You know, Washington bad, Baton Rouge good; taxes bad, business good, government wicked. A lifetime public employee, Jindal scorns the federal government—except, of course, he wants to be president.
Despite Jindal’s superficial appeal, the idea that any Deep South governor advocating the policies he’s championed would be considered a viable candidate for the presidency in 2016 speaks volumes about the Republican Party’s 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 Obama’s otherness. It was always a mistake, she said, to claim “that he’s a Muslim, he’s a Kenyan, he’s working out his feelings about colonialism. Those charges were meant to marginalize him, but they didn’t hurt him. They damaged Republicans, who came to see him as easy to defeat.”
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. “’You didn’t build that,’” she wrote “are the defining words of his presidency.”
That’s right, conspiracy buffs. To Noonan, President Obama’s political legacy consists of a truncated quote yanked out of context to distort his plain meaning: basically that the best restaurant in town couldn’t thrive if customers had to bush hog their own roads to get there.