As I’m sure you’ve read, Gov. Bobby Jindal went to Charlotte this week to speak to the Republican National Committee‘s winter meeting, where he dispensed some weak soup that, in Jindal’s world, seems to pass for wisdom and policy innovation.
Most famously, Jindal said: “We’ve got 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. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.”
I have nothing much to add to the very good commentary on Jindal’s speech, except to note that Jindal never actually proposed any innovative or bold policy changes. He simply said the GOP needs to do a better job of hiding its crazy, misogynistic uncles.
It’s sort of like saying, “I’ve got a ton of stinking manure in the back of my old, dilapidated pickup truck. Nobody wants to buy it, so I’m going to shovel it over into a new, bright red pickup. People will be clamoring to buy it now because I’m certain that the problem is the vehicle, not the fact that my product is horse manure.”
So, my service to you today is to gather up some of the best commentary on Jindal’s speech and give you some excerpts and links to them.
Now the commentary:
Joan Walsh in Salon: “The Shame that Is Bobby Jindal“
The man hailed by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza for his readiness to “speak truth to GOP power” in a tedious speech to the Republican National Committee Thursday night is anything but a rebel or renegade. One night before his big 2016 star turn, Jindal was forced by national outrage to reverse himself on what is one of the ugliest GOP policy decisions in an ugly decade: cutting Medicaid funding for hospice care. His health secretary actually announced the decision Wednesday night as hospice backers gathered for a mournful candlelight vigil.
Good timing; continued attention to Jindal’s hospice cruelty might have made it tough for him to be the new public face of what he hopes will be the diversity-friendly GOP.
Yet Jindal’s other cruel cuts are set to stand – cuts to battered women’s shelter programs, to higher education, preschool programs, anti-truancy efforts and a range of other efforts to make life better for low-income people. Meanwhile Jindal wants to replace the state’s income tax with more regressive sales taxes.
His speech pretended to mock the budget-cutting focus of the national GOP. “By obsessing with zeroes on the budget spreadsheet, we send a not-so-subtle signal that the focus of our country is on the phony economy of Washington, instead of the real economy out here in Charlotte, and Shreveport (La.), and Cheyenne (Wyo.).” Yet Jindal’s program cuts show that on budget-cutting issues, he’s a typical Republican.
From Jamelle Bouie in the Washington Post: “There are no real “reformers” in the GOP“
But there’s just little in the way of “reform” here — after all, he has no interest in actually moderating the party’s conservatism. This highlights a larger problem: There aren’t any real “reformers” in the GOP.
Jindal himself embodies the same right-wing policies that sank Mitt Romney and damaged the GOP’s appeal to middle and working-class Americans. Under Jindal, for instance, Louisiana has made deep cuts to public services, slashing millions in spending from education and health care. Jindal has proposed a tax regime that goes far beyond the Ryan plan in its regressiveness. The Louisiana governor wants to abolish corporate and income taxes in his state, providing a huge windfall for wealthy, entrenched interests — corporate and income taxes account for more than half of Louisiana’s annual revenue.
The only other way to make up for this lost revenue is to raise sales taxes, which fall hardest on poor and working-class Americans, who consume a larger share of their income than their higher-income counterparts. For Louisiana to close the revenue hole, explains the Tax Policy Center, it will have to more than double its sales taxes, from the current joint (state and local) rate of 8.86 percent to a far higher 17.72 percent. And if the state wants to maintain its sales tax exemptions on groceries and other necessities, it will have to raise that number even higher. “For households that don’t pay income taxes and save little or no income,” writes the Tax Policy Center, “this amounts to close to a 4 percentage point drop in after-tax income.”
John Ward in Huffington Post: “Paul Ryan Is Sisyphus, Says Bobby Jindal“
Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report noted something Thursday night on her Twitter feed that is worth looking at a little closer.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s speech at the Republican National Committee meeting in Charlotte last night was an almost total repudiation – and dismissal – of Paul Ryan.
Jindal did not mention Ryan by name, and a Jindal spokesman e-mailed to dispute this interpretation (see below), but the 41-year old governor spoke mockingly of Republicans who are “in love with zeroes” as he urged conservatives to stop focusing on Washington and to “re-orient our focus to the place where conservatism thrives – in the real world beyond the Washington Beltway.”
Kevin Drum in Mother Jones: “Bobby Jindal is Running for President. He Might Win.“
What Jindal has going for him is a peculiar combination. On the one hand, he’s about as conservative as it’s possible to get. On social issues he’s roughly a clone of Rick Santorum, and on domestic issues he’s….well, he’s the guy who has the brass to suggest that Louisiana should abolish its income tax and replace it with a sales tax. In other words, he explicitly wants to lower taxes on the rich and raise taxes on the poor. Even Newt Gingrich would quail a bit at that prospect.
So that’s the one hand. The other hand is that, for some reason, the media is willing—so far—to buy into his story of being a reformer who wants Republicans to stop being the “stupid party.” And it’s true: he’s actually said that. But Jindal doesn’t think the GOP needs reforming because it’s drifted too far right, or because it’s alienated young people and Hispanics, or because it’s become too absolutist and unwilling to compromise. Quite the contrary. Jindal thinks the Republican Party isn’t right-wing enough.
Annie-Rose Strasser in Think Progress: “Five Reasons Bobby Jindal Is Responsible For Transforming The GOP Into ‘The Stupid Party’“
But before Jindal begins giving advice to members of his own party, he might consider how his own record is alienating mainstream voters:
1. He permits Louisiana schools to teach creationism. Thanks to Jindal’s educational voucher system in Louisiana, students will be attending private or parochial schools on the taxpayer’s dime. But those schools don’t necessarily meet the standards of the state’s public schools, and may teach students creationism instead of standard science curricula.
2. He allows state employees to be fired for being gay. During his first few months as governor, Jindal decided not to renew an anti-discrimination executive order protecting LGBT employees who work for the state. Jindal has also said that same sex marriage opens up a path for courts to overturn the Second Amendment.
3. He has signed bills to intimidate women seeking abortions. Jindal compared women who have gotten abortions to criminals. But that unpalatable sentiment also came with a policy change — he signed a bill that requires all abortion clinics to post intimidating messages in their waiting rooms, and establishes a website that points women to crisis pregnancy centers instead of abortion-providing facilities. Jindal also signed a measure creating a 24-hour waiting period between a woman’s mandatory ultrasound and the date of her abortion.
4. He seeks to dramatically cut taxes for the wealthy, increase taxes for everyone else. Jindal’s latest tax proposal would raise taxes for 80 percent of Louisianians. The poorest 20 percent — with an average income of $12,000 — would face substantial tax increases, while those in the top one percent would on average get a tax cut of $25,423.
5. He refuses to provide health care for Louisiana’s poorest. Louisiana has the third highest uninsured rate in the country. Twenty percent of residents lack insurance of any kind. But as one of the governors vehemently opposed to Obamacare, Jindal turned down the Medicaid expansion offered under the law, ignoring the fact that it would drastically lower the numbers of uninsured and ultimately save the state money on emergency care.
Dave Weigel in Slate: “Somebody Tell Bobby Jindal Where Gaffes Come From”
At the time, a lot of snarky reporters (here I raise my hand) pointed out that Jindal was talking about messaging, but not getting specific about what the GOP might need to change, policy-wise, to bring back voters. In three months, he hasn’t added anything to the pitch.
Jindal’s Sermon on Gaffes assumes that the audience still blames Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” tape for his defeat, and blames Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment for blowing the key Senate races. Sure: Both were huge, inarticulate mistakes.
Romney’s spitballing about makers and takers was in line with contemporary Republican theories about the tax code and the entitlement state, and Jindal doesn’t back off from them, either. “Where do you go if you want a handout?” he asks. “Government. This must stop.” He doesn’t mention entitlement spending except to call for “re-thinking nearly every social program in Washington.”
Akin’s gaffe was even more explicable. He believes that life starts at conception, and he’s against abortion in cases of rape. Jindal doesn’t talk about abortion at all, except to accuse liberals of “supporting abortion on demand without apology.” But in practice, he’s signed restrictions on abortion, requiring women to see ultrasounds and hear fetal heartbeats before they terminate their pregnancies. Following a 2012 law signed by Jindal, a woman can only opt out of the ultrasound results if she affirms in writing that she was raped or the victim of incest. But Jindal doesn’t go around talking about it.
Jed Lewison in Daily Kos: “Bobby Jindal: Republicans should ‘compete’ for votes from ‘the 47 percent’“
In Jindal’s view, the main problem with Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment was the part where Romney said he could never win votes from people in the 47 percent. “My job is not to worry about those people,” Romney said, speaking of his role as the GOP’s standard bearer.
Obviously, you’d have to be an idiot to only compete for votes from 53 percent of the electorate, but the thing that was so wrong about what Mitt Romney said wasn’t his idiotic electoral strategy—it’s that he believed in the 47 percent nonsense in the first place.
The thing that was offensive is that Mitt Romney said 47 percent of the country are worthless moochers. The idea that he couldn’t win their votes was ridiculous because the 47 percent actually do not exist. The thing that was offensive is the whole idea that there are makers and there are takers, not that Romney didn’t think he could win votes from the 47 percent who were allegedly takers.
So while Bobby Jindal pats himself on the back for not being as dumb as Mitt Romney in writing off what he believestobe47 percent of the country, he missed the larger point: There is no 47 percent. And that’s why so many people were turned off by what Mitt Romney said.
Back in the real world, Jindal is the Governor of one of the poorest states in the country where more than 32% of the population are African American. In Louisiana, Governor Jindal has made no effort to work with African American leaders, ministers or even legislators. His personal disdain and disrespect for leaders in his own state is very real. How hypocritical is it to now want to like other ethnic groups. He is only offering the GOP a novel, post-racial approach to equal opportunity- say one thing and do another.
Oh, and then there was this: “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. I’m serious; it’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.” This is far from his recent actions of demonizing teachers and state employees, while pushing through policies that would teach Louisiana’s youth that at one point in history humans relied on dinosaurs for transportation. Bobby Jindal is the Governor that supports creationism, disdains history and mocks educational leaders.
SkyDancingBlog: “The Ultimate Lean Hungry Man Appears to Have the Villagers Fooled“
Jindal’s only vision is his wet dream of sitting in the oval office. He has kept our state inperpetual recession. He has cut the budget of our universities by 1/3. He has assaulted even the basic notion of what health care should be by devastating the availability of basic services by cutting our public health budget. He has thrown out myriads of talented people in various government agencies and placed incompetent, unqualified, and reckless cronies in their place. He has undercut LSU so badly that the accrediting agency has sent a letter asking if there is any one in charge. You will not even believe who he placed in charge of our state primary and secondary schools. Jindal has spent the last year stacking BESE–our oversight agency–with other cronies. He has turned our state into an ALEC crockpot of “reform” where creationism can be openly taught in science classes, state funds can pour into religious indoctrination centers with desks, computers, and little else available to students through unregulated vouchers, and even put out false information on the supposed success of charter schools.
Jindal’s latest attempt at turning the state into Somalia as its dictator is to suggest we should eliminate all income and property taxes and double sales taxes. The only ALEC-based nonsense he just backtracked on was his plan to yank hospice care from any state medicare recipient who needs it because he wants to ensure the state doesn’t go near any of the new federal funding or provisions available under ACA. He must have gotten enough feedback to feel it threatened his ambitions because that’s the only thing that would stop him from painfully killing any one who gets in his way of sending us to right wing hell.
Brian Tashman in Right Wing Watch: “Creationism Advocate Bobby Jindal Warns GOP Against Becoming ‘the Stupid Party’“
Of course, this is the same Bobby Jindal who is literally dumbing down Louisiana’s education system by advocating the teaching of creationism in taxpayer-funded schools.
Jindal signed into law and vocally supported the ironically-named Louisiana Science Education Act, which has been described as a “thinly veiled attempt to allow creationism into the science classrooms of his state.”
Ed Kilgore in Washington Monthly blog: “Jindal’s ‘I’ve Got It: Let’s Move to the Right!’ Prescription“
Jindal wants to be the champion—and perhaps the 2016 presidential candidate—of the very significant faction of the GOP that thinks the party’s problems are a lack of clarity and consistency in its conservative ideology, along with a habitual stupidity in presenting it. Take Todd Akin, give him Bobby Jindal’s brains and background, and you’ve got the winning formula!
So Jindal will go arch-demagogic in attacking Washington, even as he tries to build a swampy wingnut paradise back home in Louisiana, with a model regressive tax system that supports conservative evangelical madrassas, and of course none o’ that soul-destroying satanic federal assistance via the Affordable Care Act.
Charles Johnson in Little Green Footballs: “Creationist Governor Bobby Jindal Is Calling Other People ‘Stupid’ Again“
The fact is, there’s absolutely nothing new or innovative about this speech. Jindal is simply repeating the same old tired anti-government lines the right has been recycling for decades, and if you’re looking for ideas on how to “reform” the party here, you’re wasting your time. It’s just another attempt to repackage the same failed ideology in something that looks like a shiny new box. From a distance.
But I have to admit, Jindal has huge brass cojones to call out the GOP for being “stupid” — when he has done more than any other Republican governor to legitimize the teaching of creationism, climate change denial, and all manner of religious right pseudo-science in Louisiana.
For one example out of many, a religious school funded by Jindal’s voucher program teaches that evolution is disproved by the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
I don’t know, Bobby; that sounds pretty freaking stupid to me. However, I fully expect the media to applaud Jindal for this deceptive, self-promoting hooey.