Louisiana’s GOP Governor Bobby Jindal Looks Into a Mirror and Calls the Republican Party “The Stupid Party”

Published: Monday 28 January 2013

While addressing the Republican National Committee (RNC) last Friday in Charlotte North Carolina, another "intellectual leader" of the Republican party, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, got lost in the woods of logic as he struggled foot by foot, forest path by forest path to escape the land called Wing Nut. He started out well enough, but paths he believed would lead to brighter vistas spiraled to the right leaving the poor governor pretty much where he started. In an auspicious start he tossed up an idea generally left unspoken at RNC gatherings:

"We 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 the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear." (Full text here)

By the conclusion of his speech, however, that liberating sentiment turned out to be simply only a feint to the left soon abandoned for a path circling back to the right.

Another long quote from the same speech uncovered his particular problem - he doesn't understand that speaking of change doesn't fool anyone if in the very same speech you aggressively reiterate the very same GOP principles that most need reform and correction.That only leads you back to Wing Nut City.

Jindal:

"Now let me shift gears and speak to changes I believe we must make if we are to win elections. As I indicated before, I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles. This badly disappoints many of the liberals in the national media of course. For them, real change means:

- Supporting abortion on demand without apology 

- Abandoning traditional marriage between one man and one woman

- Embracing government growth as the key to American success 

- Agreeing to higher taxes every year to pay for government expansion

- And endorsing the enlightened policies of European socialism 

That is what real change looks like to the New York Times editorial board. But that’s crazy talk. America already has one liberal party, she doesn’t need another one.

Government spending still does not grow our economy. American weakness on the world stage still does not lead to peace. Higher taxes still do not create prosperity for all. And more government still does not grow jobs. If you believe in higher taxes, more debt, more government spending, weakness abroad, and taking guns from law-abiding citizens – you already have a party that is well represented in Washington."

Having thus circled back on himself, there he is, back at his home base. If as dubious an explorer as Bobby Jindal, Lewis and Clark would've never left Illinois; Stanley would never have asked "Dr. Livingston, I presume"; and had Columbus, Cabot Ponce de León, Cartier, and their compatriots been as hapless, the Americas would perhaps still be undiscovered.

Jindal concluded the typical radical right-wing list of demonic liberal misdeeds with this rather paradoxical phrase:

No, the Republican Party does not need to change our principles…but we might need to change just about everything else we do.[Italics added; ellipses in Governor Jindal's original transcript]

I see. Don't change the "principles," GOP principles that a significant majority of American voters object to in poll after poll, and, soundly rejected with their votes quite recently. But, Jindal does urge Republicans to consider his cris de coeur to "change just about everything else we do."

Get it? Neither do I. Since 2011, other than a history of arrogant GOP rule in GOP-dominated states, and hard-hearted, tight-fisted policy intransigence at the federal level, what, exactly,isthe "everything else" that Republicans do? Jindal tries to explain this as he finishes his speech with a flourish of seven ideas (see full text in footnote below). If he intended to flesh out the bare bones of reform for what he called "just abouteverything else [Republicans] do," notice how he qualified his call to change with the phrase "we might need to change," implying that he himself is not very certain about whether things really need changing at all.

Will all his reform talk result in business as usual? That's my guess. Despite Jindal's much heralded appeal to the GOP stupid to stop being stupid, logically speaking, that outcome is a non-starter: stupid is as stupid does. Most Republicans will not admit to being "stupid," in fact, they are known for arrogant certainty and for their anti-rational ways - and proudly so! Telling the RNC to smarten up seems the longest of long shots, especially since the recently re-elected Reince Priebus as their National Chairloon, a man as arrogantly stupid as they come.

Moreover, Governor Jindal himself is himself front and center among the standard bearers of the "stupid" he denounces:

  • An outspoken fan of creationism, he crafted a way for more Louisiana schools to teach it;
  • In 2011 after signing into law - at a Baptist church! - more needless informed consent for abortion requirements, he used this outlandish analogy: 

“When officers arrest criminals today, they are read their rights. Now if we’re giving criminals their basic rights and they have to be informed of those rights, it seems to me only common sense we would have to do the same thing for women before they make the choice about whether to get an abortion.”

  • In the literal oily wake of the BP oil spill disaster, he told President Obama, "I told the president that the oil moratorium amounted to a second man-made disaster." He demanded improved federal oversight of oil rigs, etc., ignoring the fact of GOP obstruction of federal oversight of virtually everything, and the concomitant underfunding of staff and resources for inspection service.
  • Last September, Jindal and other same-sex marriage opponents traveled to Iowa to drum up support to remove from office one of the seven Supreme Court justices, David Wiggins, who, in a 2009 unanimous decision, ruled there was no governmental interest in denying same-sex marriage. He drew an odd, false, and stupid "slippery slope" analogy not intended to advance his argument sensibly but to appeal to the 2nd Amendment absolutists in the audience: 

“The reality is today we’re talking about redefining marriage. If the court is allowed to impose and write their own laws and their own views, and overturn those that are done by our duly-elected representatives. What’s to stop today’s judges. Tomorrow it may be property rights, maybe it’s Second Amendment rights. We have got to take a stand against judicial activism.” (But not, presumably, in other cases, like the Affordable Care Act.)

  • A week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Jindal's office issued this package full of wing nuttery: 

"Evil exists this side of Eden and more laws banning guns will just be more laws broken by those intending to do evil," said Jindal spokeswoman Shannon Bates. "Gun bans don't work and we don't support them. The problem is our culture and we have to address that problem to make sure this never happens again."

  • During last Friday's RNC, among his reform ideas he advised post-2012 Republicans: "[L]et's not be the stupid party. We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys." That must have been a recent conversion, very recent, since just 10 days before his speech Jindal proposed replacing Louisiana's state personal income taxes and corporate taxes by increasing the state sales tax, a regressive tax that will, if enacted, actually result in a large tax cut for the upper 20% of earners and a sizable tax increase for everyone else. 

There are scores more examples from every policy area.

So, in reality, Jindal's ephemeral and gaseous suggestions for Republican reform amount to nothing more than the usual: reformthrough re-branding. He asked for no changes in the underlying GOP policy agenda. Recall what he said about that:

"I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles."

Wow. That's the strongest declarative sentence in his speech. The rest is trite generalities, broad prescriptions, outright lying, and empty phrasing. So, despite what Jindal thinks he was saying, and despite what many believe he was suggesting, he was not throwing down a gauntlet of substantive change and reform to his outdated and regressive Republican party. His suggestions are non-starters because they are simply more of the same intransigence we've suffered for decades.

Jindal was doing what overly self-confident radicals do when convinced of their correctness: despite calling for reform, his advice boils down to nothing more than a call for better costuming and more make-up. Once again, he's saying, let's win by fooling people about who we are. He's right, if the GOP base were to ever awaken to the fact that they have more in common with those they vilify than they do with their GOP leaders and the Rush Limbaughs, the Republican party as it is today would soon wither. 

But until then, absent an injection of humanity or communitarian instincts into their agenda, Jindal prescribes a change of costume and make-up.

ABOUT Michael Matthew Bloomer
Michael Matthew Bloomer wrote professionally for 25 years as a senior legislative research and policy staff member at the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service (CRS). Since retiring in 2007 he has been (of course) a blogger (They Will Say ANYTHING!), and have contributed to others’ blogs. His writing has taken a turn from the nonpartisan CRS viewpoint to a partisan “aggressive progressive” one.
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