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Tilting at Windmills

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February 22, 2009

JINDAL.... Time's Joe Klein caught Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on "Meet the Press" this morning, and wasn't impressed.

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.

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.

In this case, Klein has always found Jindal to be "very smart," "quite creative," and "always intellectually honest." Then Klein saw the new, more hackish Jindal, and is left wondering where that credible guy went. In Klein's case, respect has turned to scorn.

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.*

The difference seems to be that Jindal is trading his reputation for seriousness and intellectual honesty much sooner than seems necessary.

* edited slightly for clarity

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

when you're trying to suck up to the republican base, ya can't be too crazy and ya can't start too soon.

Posted by: mellowjohn on February 22, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

it's amazing how much sheer ambition leads people to delude themselves. I guess the plan is that you say whatever will get you on talk radio, follow the gospel of whatever Rush believes at the minute, and then hope for a 51% victory in the long run.

too bad the demographics don't work out that way. plus, even the non-politicized middle of the country can tell shit from shinola.

Posted by: dios de los camarones on February 22, 2009 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

But these dopes will run into the same problem McCainPalin had in 2008. All the stoopid, delusional stuff you say to attract the fundicrat GOP base scares the bejeebus out of the other 75% of voters. And everything eventually ends up on YouTube, so you can't hide.

Posted by: CParis on February 22, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

They all spew that crap with a straight face. Jindal is only the latest Republican Baghdad Bobby.

Posted by: Rachel on February 22, 2009 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

I can't see any political gain for Gov. Jindal. He's punching a gift horse in the mouth during these hard times. He doesn't think a majority of the voters can see his grandstanding? What a fool! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 22, 2009 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

"..Jindal is trading his reputation for seriousness and intellectual honesty much sooner than seems necessary".

How serious and intellectually honest was the governor when he swore he partook in an exorcism? And not simply an exorcism, but one that worked!

Posted by: JL on February 22, 2009 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

When you have Sarah Palin to compete with, it's impossible to shed seriousness and intellectual honesty with too much speed or vigor.

Even at full speed, Jindal might never catch up.

Posted by: CN on February 22, 2009 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

EC Sedgwick ought to be here in a moment, making a really awful comparison of Obama's stimulus plan to rape...

Posted by: rob! on February 22, 2009 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

I could not help but think how much his haircut looked like Herbert Hoover's (the part 1/3 of the way toward the top) as Jindal pronounced how his response in Louisiana in these tough times was to lay off thousands of state employees and cut spending. He went on to ask how spending on a couple of items in the stimulus bill ($50 million for NEA and $300 million to buy green cars) was stimulative. Beyond the fact that his examples make up about .3 percent of the package, there was nothing wrong with them as part of the stimulus spending.

Sen. Landrieu properly called him out on the unemployment benefits issue, nothing ties the state into adjusting the benefit level back down if the Louisiana legislature wants to stick it to recently the recently unemployed a couple of years from now. It was a phony issue from the beginning.

I hope they run this guy in 2012. He'll join the list with Alf Landon and Wendell Willkie.

Posted by: pfgr on February 22, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Don't expect Dickhead Gregory to call anyone out on any lies or ommissions

Posted by: Polaris on February 22, 2009 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

There is no relationship between tax cuts or tax increases and the impact on economic growth except at the extremes. There are numerous examples of tax cuts followed by economic stagnation and there are numerous examples of tax increases followed by economic booms. So, anytime you hear a politician, newsperson, or a pundit claim a relationship know that the person talking doesn't know what they are talking about.

Posted by: William Jensen on February 22, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

You know what's sad? That Republican efforts to tug at the heartstrings of voters always rely on their being stupid for success. Wait, that's not the sad part - the sad part is how often it works, how many votes the Republicans got in the last election even though they didn't win, and how willfully stupid many people remain although they live in the age of round-the-clock information.

That's sad.

Posted by: Mark on February 22, 2009 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

I had exactly the same impression watching Jindal on Meet the Press. Standard GOP boilerplate. I imagined him practicing in front of a mirror with his talking points provided by the RNC or some other group of Republican consultants. It was a disasterous performance because it was so obvious that this was not an intelligent statesmen thinking through a problem for us but someone parroting rehearsed lines and arguments. When will the Republican Party and its "leaders" learn. The public knows when it is being sold an ideological bill of goods and when it is being spoken to by an adult who treats its audience with respect.

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 22, 2009 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

ahh, but like McCain, how long can Jindal coast on his reputation for honesty and logic in the media? A

Posted by: Northzax on February 22, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

By 2012 the Republicans will be nothing more than a party of the lunatic fringe. I really think we will see a third party emerge made up of the moderate wing of the Republican party. They will be decimated in the 2010 elections.

Posted by: Saint Zak on February 22, 2009 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP revealed its real strategy whaen Limbaugh said he wanted Obama to fail. It's the only strategy they've ever had - hope for Democratic failure, then attract angered and disillusioned voters that our electoral system provides nowhere else for them to turn.

Sadly, Barack Obama is in the White House in large part because Democrats in 2008 employed a similar version of this same strategy.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on February 22, 2009 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Jindal is representing a proportion of the GOP that has not revamped its message and will be left out in the cold.

As an alternative example, both Governors Schwartezeneger and Christ were examples of a new tone that I think will be way more succesful for them and for the country most of all in these hard times. They will pick and chose their battles, but generally they will be seen as part of offering a solution rather than more failed strategies and tone deafness to what our country needs.

When I listened to just the tone of Jindal's interview this morning, I heard a defensive, whiny sounding person rather than someone confidently presenting a coherent and reasonable argument...

I am not impressed with this guy at all. If he is the best the Republicans can throw at Obama and the Democrats, well, their time in the wilderness is going to be much longer

Posted by: Elie on February 22, 2009 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Nor did he mention the 30 years of neglect the nation's infrastructure has suffered during the Reagan era

Maybe he meant SINCE the Reagan era?

THAT I could agree with because Clinton was rather lackluster in execution of the vital duties mentioned.

30 years of Reagan. Wow. What a concept.

I think I just heard the sound of dozens Zippo lighters going off at once at Steele's office.


Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 22, 2009 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

The standard intelligence test for Republicans should be whether or not they are smart enough to realize that the proper strategy is to ignore the base and focus on moderate Republicans instead of pandering to it.

Posted by: mfw13 on February 22, 2009 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

On top of his Repubabble, Piyush now has the facial expression of a hunted animal. Confidence is not something he will inspire.

Posted by: penalcolony on February 22, 2009 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone explain to me how exactly capital gains tax cuts are going to have any sort of dramatic effect in a time of capital LOSSES???

Posted by: Bad on February 22, 2009 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Let's just admit it.The only reason anyone is paying attention to Jindal is that he is Teh Brown Republican.

Posted by: Joel on February 22, 2009 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm from Louisiana. He's never really had a reputation for "seriousness" or "intellectual honesty." His reputation is that he's very smart, but he's apparently willing to say or do anything that would get him ahead.

The guy has a degree in biology from Brown University, and he promoted a stealth creationism bill. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: dp on February 22, 2009 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Klein: "Jindal resorted to the Republican fantasy playbook -- to the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts, which allegedly helped boost the economy."

* For the Umpteenth time, there were no "Kennedy tax cuts", no matter how many times the American RightWing keeps calling them that. The tax cuts were enacted in 1964 and did not take effect until much later. President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

* The national economy experienced a dramatic slow-down in 1966, with GDP going over a cliff from 10.1% down to 1.4% (note that the previous high levels of GDP occurred while the top marginal rate of individual income tax was 91%).

* After the 1981 federal income tax rate cuts under Reagan were enacted, GDP was a net negative 9% over the six subsequent quarters, and as David Stockman (Director of the OMB 1981-1985) stated, federal income tax revenues plunged to 1940's levels. Both GDP and tax revenue only turned up again after Reagan started raising federal taxes.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 22, 2009 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Was John Kerry serious and intellectually honest when he pretended to love parasailing and blamed America first for Vietnam?

Posted by: dead freight mike on February 22, 2009 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

I watched Jendal this morning. I was struck with the thought that the SOB will have a job tomorrow. A lot of others in his state wont. He is literally saying to those people, "be proud you get to go hungry to advance my cheesy political career."

With a few exceptions, most governors really do work hard for their people. Most of them get it. That comes from being close to the problems. Apparently Jendal is in that small little universe of governors who are willing to sacrifice their own people on the later of political ideological purity. Jendal came across as being decidedly unserious.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 22, 2009 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone explain to me how exactly capital gains tax cuts are going to have any sort of dramatic effect in a time of capital LOSSES???

Posted by: Bad

Yes, it might induce investors, who are sitting on trillions in cash, to buy distressed assets instead of letting the government do it with borrowed dollars that we will have to pay back. The obvious feature would be a suspension of cap gains taxes on PURCHASES, not sales.

You might try an economics textbook. I understand there are even used copies available cheap.

Don't mention it.

Posted by: Mike K on February 22, 2009 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K~

If a gain or (loss) is only determined at the time of the sale, how does one pay a capital gains tax on a purchase? Just askin'.

Posted by: jcricket on February 22, 2009 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Mike I think jcricket has a point. In this economy reducing cap gains rates to zero would only have a modest effect. It is impossible to take a capital gain when the sales price is less than your basis.

I know these concepts are tough.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 22, 2009 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

"The obvious feature would be a suspension of cap gains taxes on PURCHASES, not sales."

On purchases? Maybe you should crack open the textbook yourself, Mike. Then again, you're probably too dense to understand what's in it anyway.

A capital gains tax by definition is a tax on capital gains, the gain made after SELLING something bought at a lower price. There is no such thing as a capital gains tax on purchases.

Don't mention it. Dumbass.

Posted by: JK on February 22, 2009 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

If a gain or (loss) is only determined at the time of the sale, how does one pay a capital gains tax on a purchase? Just askin'.

One does not pay capital gains tax on a purchase. Mike K has no idea what he is talking about. He might try an economics textbook or watching the Sesame Street episode that explains that using puppets and songs.

Posted by: no on February 22, 2009 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Of course he doesn't have anything new to add. The Republicans have been saying the exact same stuff for for the last 30 years and the punish those that tries to be different or innovative.

Posted by: ET on February 22, 2009 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Mike does bring up a point. The level of Republican ignorance of economic basics is breath taking.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 22, 2009 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

If a distressed asset can be sold at multiple times its purchase value, the incentive is that the return will be greater than any other investment out there, regardless of whether a capital gain tax is 10% or 15% or whatever. Any projected tax rate is taken into consideration to determine the net return, but it is the return on investment relative to other investment choices that will determine the purchase in the distressed assets, not the tax.

Opportunity costs. Economics 101.

Don't mention it.

Posted by: jcricket on February 22, 2009 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

As I watched Jindal make his arguments today on Meet The Press, I thought that his answers sounded like a poorly cut and pasted Word documentloaded with approved Republican orthodoxy. What it lacked in intelligent coherence, he seemd to try to overcome with a continued fast paced delivery as if that would overcome someone questioning its credibility.

Jindal may be the new darling of the Right, but it seemed to me that Crist seemed far and away more rational by comparison making Jindal seem even more like a hack. I suppose that might well be because I'm not looking through what is taken today for the Party's conservative Republican eyes.

Posted by: sparrow on February 22, 2009 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose that might well be because I'm not looking through what is taken today for the Party's conservative Republican eyes.

Jeepers, peepers -- where'd ya get those Freepers?

Posted by: trex on February 22, 2009 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Universal karma dictates that Mike K will always add the maximum amount of bombast and arrogance while laying the biggest possible egg.

This guy is too busy throwing contemptuous comments over his shoulder to ever spot the giant holes he keeps falling into. Boom.

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2009 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

republicans have made it clear as a bell that since reagan, as far as they are concerned, only the dumbest, most dishonest people who are the best at selling and being faithful to the base's upside downism unreality are qualified to lead "the republican base".

Jindal is apparently smart enough to have figured this out. What he, and the rest of the republican pols apparently are not smart enough to figure out is that the Neanderthal republican base is not big enough to win elections and "the center" is finally onto republicans' lies, deceit, corruption, and destructive ideology, and "the center" no longer wants any part of it. Can US corporate media save the failed republican talking points? Stay tuned.

Posted by: pluege on February 22, 2009 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Can US corporate media save the failed republican talking points?

they're going to do their darndest!

p.s., anyone who thinks that most governors are sensible, competent creatures, think again.

cast your eye around the nation's governors but take down the gauze and really look.

you'll find that most of them are place holders at best. most states' state pols are creepy. if you don't think your state is, you probably haven't looked close enough. possible exceptions would include vermont.

Posted by: karen marie on February 23, 2009 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

The two parties have merged into borrow-and-spend. Undertaxing and overspending are the same thing--selfishness at the expense of the commonweal.

Posted by: Luther on February 23, 2009 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, before she came to limelight as McCain's Veep nominee, Palin had a similar reputation too. And look at where she is now. I think Cheney wanted to be the GOP nominee, and did not get it. The GOP standard is now the Defense Against the Dark Arts job at Hogwarts - every holder will meet a bad fate soon enough.

Posted by: Ramki on February 23, 2009 at 5:30 AM | PERMALINK

Republican boilerplate "tax cuts solve everything" economics is just intellectual pornography. It holds certain people fascinated but in the end it's just abusive.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on February 23, 2009 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans love to mention that "JFK lowered taxes," but never say from what rate. The top marginal tax rate during JFK's administration was around 90%, in part because we were still -- responsibly enough -- paying off the costs of WWII and Korea. How quaint.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on February 23, 2009 at 7:18 AM | PERMALINK

Poor DocMikey, can't take capital gains on his girdle purchases at Frederick's of Hollywood.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 23, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

trades the respect of credible observers for the adoration of the Republican base

The fact that it is a trade between credibility and the adoration of the Republican base, of course, largely goes unremarked. Klein's observation is a rare exception of pointing out that the governing philosophy of the modern Republican Party is based as much on fantasy as the Communist Party of old.

Posted by: Gregory on February 23, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

gotta argue a bit with the basic premise of your conclusion. what really happens is more like "GOP rising star gets all kinds of praise they don't deserve and successes they never achieved attributed to them simply because people in the media can't mentally function without giving equal weight to the '2 sides' any given issue simply must have.

just because Dems won the last elections, that fact by itself creates a need in the media to scope out who are the 'rising stars', when the reality is, there aren't any. so, of course, by definition the 'rising star' award will go to someone barely known, who will then be massively over-hyped and mythologized until they are speaking in a national format and there is no way to pretend otherwise and ignore what they're saying.

and then you see the 'inevitable' fall of these "rising stars", because the fact is that of course they have no new ideas, nothing to add to the conversation, no great revealed wisdom for the rest of the world. just the same old GOP playbook. I mean, really, what would give anyone the idea that there was suddenly some magical new GOP playbook full of GREAT IDEAS which they just couldn't get published and distributed in time for the 08 election?

Joe Klein is quite silly. because, to expect what he seemed to be expecting of Jindal, you really have to view the world roughly as I've described above. what an airhead.

Posted by: onceler on February 23, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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