Political Animal


January 25, 2013 9:43 AM Genius At Work

By Ed Kilgore

Yesterday I mentioned the Great Big Speech Bobby Jindal was scheduled to do at a RNC meeting in Charlotte last night, and discussed the signals he was sending out that he would urge a combination of radical anti-Washingtonton rhetoric with less overt stupidity.

Well, based on the transcript of the speech, which the Washington Examiner called “dynamite,” Jindal offered a “plan” for the GOP that is “smart” only in terms of promoting Bobby Jindal. It declares anyone who is in Washington working on federal challenges—however destructively—an irrelevant time-waster and a presumptive traitor to the Cause, since DC is enemy territory and those serving there are playing a “rigged game.” So much for the leadership aspirations of Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan or Rand Paul.

Beyond that, even as he demands specificity from Republicans (and no “dumbing down” of its policy ideas), here’s the Boy Genius’ brilliant plan for domestic governance:

If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states.
If it’s something you don’t trust the states to do, then maybe Washington shouldn’t do it at all.

This extraordinarily original insight comes right after Jindal mocks as obviously absurd the idea of having much of a federal government at all:

If we created American government today, we would not dream of taking money out of people’s pockets, sending it all the way to Washington, handing it over to politicians and bureaucrats to staple thousands of pages of artificial and political instructions to it, then wear that money out by grinding it through the engine of bureaucratic friction…and then sending what’s left of it back to the states, where it all started, in order to grow the American economy.

It’s as though the Boy Genius is unaware of most of American history, isn’t it? His “populist vision” of conservative politics is about as new and fresh as that of John C. Calhoun, and the rhetoric has been worked to death by “anti-Washington” politicians of both parties for decades on end.

But I’m sure listeners did indeed find the speech “dynamite” because it contained these words:

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.

When tied to a world-view that rules out everything that happens in Washington as either irrelevant and evil, this you don’t have to change mantra creates an endless playground for right-wing irresponsibility in the name of “principle.”

But what’s most amazing about Jindal’s speech is that it is being and will continue to be greeted as some sort of breath of fresh air when it’s devoted to some of the oldest and most shop-worn memes in American politics, up to and including the “populist” idea that “big government” is the only reason you have “big business.”

We’ll see how Jindal’s putative 2016 rivals react to this opening gambit. But he’s pretty much staked out the ground of cynical pseudo-populism as his very own.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on January 25, 2013 9:57 AM:

    So, Bobby J's big, bold, new idea, is to return to "The Articles of Confederation!"

    Bobby J, if the Federal Government, and we Blue States, stopped sending your piss-poor backwards state our money, you'd be the Dixieland/Jazz/Cajun version of Haiti!

    Isn't he the one who said that 'Republicans must "stop being the stupid party," recognize voter maturity and "go after every single vote..."?

    Never mind, "Physician, heal theyself" - Bobby, "Politician, listen to thyself."

    'Cause, not fer nothin' - you still sound pretty feckin' stupid to me!

  • ceilidth on January 25, 2013 10:00 AM:

    Ah yes--Louisiana, the model of good govt., high educational standards and prosperity. The place we would all choose as a model for the future of the United States. Nutria for dinner, anyone? It's a lot cheaper than shrimp, especially after BP gets through with the state.

  • jim filyaw on January 25, 2013 10:05 AM:

    a lot of commenters dismiss him as an idiot or moron. i think he is neither. i'd opt for clueless crackpot. palin, brownback, perry, mourdock, demint, santorum, bachmann, gohmert, paul (father and son), king, brewster, angle, west, and cain have soaked up all the idiot/moron awards.

  • Celui on January 25, 2013 10:10 AM:

    Once again, the resurgent Confederacy peers up over the ramparts, lifts its finger to the wind, discovers that wind is, indeed, blowing and gets the direction wrong. A good undergrad political science project would be to examine federal aid to these 'confederate' states, and then remove those funds from the states' coffers, add in the (low-tax) state revenues, and finish by predicting the fiscal impact of such federal dollar removals. And, not just federal disaster aid in the billions, but also federal aid for the unemployed, for infrastructure renewal, for maintenance of all federal installations including the military in these various areas, and any and all federal dollars of any kind. Bobby J could amaze us all by coming up with some kind of 'replenishment' plan for the absence of federal revenue sharing to his and the other states. Then, he can ask his constituents how he's doing. I suppose I could predict their responses........

  • Gandalf on January 25, 2013 10:34 AM:

    I guess the next time a hurricane hits New Orleans and the rest of Louisieredneckana Bobby can ask Mississippi for help.

  • Dee on January 25, 2013 10:36 AM:

    Is Bobby still trying to eliminate Hospice care for Medicaid recipients in his state? You know, kick the poor and disabled out on the street to die.

  • bigtuna on January 25, 2013 10:42 AM:

    I guess we once again learn that being a Rhodes scholar doesn't mean you are ethical, or even smart. This speech is filled with dim-witted paens to a nation that does not exist. It has not existed since 1865. Why does the modern repub. party hew to a line that forgets Lincoln and the railroad and university Land grants [umm, Bobby, btw, LSU is a land grant school), public education, land grants for western settlement; railroads; Water projects. On on the topic on the topic of water. I think it would be grand if my share of tax dollars were rerouted, so I didn't have to pay for the annual upkeep of the Mississippi flood control structures; the engineering that keeps the Mississippi from avulsing and flooding all of western LA, and basically maintains the waterways so that your petrochemical industry and oil extraction industry can continue, and continue o devastate the landscape. Why do they forget Teddy Roosevelt and the preservation of lands to save watersheds; etc.

    I agree that it is a depression aspect of this non story that hardly any in the MSM will call this speech what it is - a load of ignorant know nothing crap.

  • Domage on January 25, 2013 10:56 AM:

    Jindal's speech actually crystalizes one of the foundational precepts of the modern Conservative movement. Conservatives love America above all else--they simply despise more than half of the people living here and are staunch advocates of destroying the government of the United States.

    It is their hatred of Americans and the American government that makes them true patriots.

  • Russell aboard M/V Sunshine on January 25, 2013 11:04 AM:

    Ah, yes Bobby. We have heard all this before -- aka Return to the Articles of Confederation, conveniently forgetting they did not work out so well even in their own time, much less the 21st Century.

    Jindal has become a Libertarian trained parrot.

  • majun on January 25, 2013 11:05 AM:

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

    Sounds a little like Jindal is channeling someone from the past:

    "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. . . . I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD." - William Lloyd Garrison

    Of course the difference is that Garrison was a tireless foe of slavery and Jindal would like to return to a time where the state can enforce, if not slavery, inequality. And Bobby boy is already setting up a system of govt. subsidized Christian madrassas. There are no principles on the immoral side of an argument. Somebody needs to tell the boy exorcist that.

  • Anonymous on January 25, 2013 11:17 AM:

    If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states. If it’s something you don’t trust the states to do, then maybe Washington shouldn’t do it at all.

    Then why run for President Bobby? Maybe you should stay home and work on that secession proclamation.

    which the Washington Examiner called “dynamite,” Jindal offered a “plan” for the GOP that is “smart” only in terms of promoting Bobby Jindal.

    Well, he *is* the guy who unleashed that laugher of a response to the SOTU and he is the guy who was against volcano monitoring.

    Personally, I think having a Indian-American run as the reincarnation of John Calhoun is... utterly hilarious.

    ['On the one hand, we have displays of Democratic weakness like the filibuster flop... and on the other hand, we have the Republicans coming up with ways to lose to that kind of weakness. This is like watching a set of particularly dumb AI's play each other.']

  • Peter C on January 25, 2013 11:17 AM:

    I wish the Democratic Party would try harder to compete in Louisiana; then I'd care more. As it is, I can't really take Jindal seriously. He may excite the rabid base with the text of his speeches, but he'll never get anywhere nationally; the man has less charisma than a slightly over-ripe turnip.

  • biggerbox on January 25, 2013 11:20 AM:

    Jindahl said the GOP needed to stop being the 'stupid party.'

    When are they going to start?

  • orogeny on January 25, 2013 11:26 AM:

    Remember Jindal's Louisiana Sand Barriers campaign during the BP spill? All those silly scientists kept telling everyone that it was a huge waste of time and money, but Bobby knew better. Jindal partially won that battle and ended up pissing away a few hundred million dollars and adding a couple of inches of sand to the bottom of the Gulf after it all washed away like the scientists said it would. But, since our media has the attention span of a squirrel with ADD, they never got around to writing much about the result once the drama of the political fight was over.

  • rea on January 25, 2013 11:38 AM:

    being a Rhodes scholar

    Cecil Rhodes would be so proud of this guy . . .


  • Rick B on January 25, 2013 12:19 PM:

    It took me two years living in New Orleans to realize that Louisiana as a culture does not believe in modern government at all. No one expects to get anything from "government" except grief. But you can get a government job and steal a pretty good living out of tax money extorted from the public. The history of the New Orleans Police demonstrates this very well. They have demonstrated that many of them are crooks in uniform, including assassins-for-hire. The "education" system consists largely of pots of money to be distributed by political leaders to their followers. The followers then get their own people hired into the schools with little effort to ensure quality of teaching. Katrina was used to change which political leaders were able to steal enough public money to pay off their supporters. There has been no real improvement and won't be. No one believes in government. The dreamers and modernizers have no chance in the climate of corruption.

    Need a road? It doesn't matter where it goes - including nowhere or to your own front door - what matters is whether you or members of your thieving tribe get the contracts to build it. If you get the contracts then you can steal a good living. Providing below-standard products like substandard concrete and such then getting a kickback just spreads the graft. Paying off the inspectors just spreads the graft to other members of your thieving tribe.

    Bobby Jindal is the current chief crook in Louisiana.

    I'm from Texas and I am used to poor government. We have multimillionaire oil barons and evangelical preachers to ensure that our government does very little except for them. But for dishonest corrupt feudalism, nothing matches Louisiana. I had to leave New Orleans because it was impossible to get a decent education for my child. Texas was and remains much better for public education, although the charter school crooks are making headway by buying the legislature here.

    Mississippi might compete in the corrupt ignorant dishonesty department, but there is so little in Mississippi worth stealing that it is not even in the game.

  • Barbara on January 25, 2013 12:20 PM:

    This is the same guy who just last summer demanded that the federal government pay not only its allotted share but pick up that which is normally paid by the state for disaster relief, right?

    I will say it for thousandth time: I can deal with disagreement, but the level of dishonesty exhibited by Jindal makes it basically impossible to deal with him. The next time a disaster knocks Louisiana to the curb, I have no doubt he will be the same ferocious predator trying to seize meat from the federal government as he was last time. As far as I am concerned, he is nothing but a cartoon.

  • Joe Friday on January 25, 2013 12:31 PM:

    What Jindal is offering is ass-backwards Neanderthal thinking. If given the choice, I rather do away with the state governments than the federal.

    Why do we still need 50 different drivers licenses and 50 different license plates, when we drive all over the country ? Not to mention marriage laws, voting laws, and numerous other antique laws.

  • biggerbox on January 25, 2013 12:42 PM:

    As the governor of a feudal state that is more like a third-world country, I guess it makes sense that he would want us all to live in states run like third-world countries. But the rest of us don't want to.

  • dp on January 25, 2013 1:24 PM:

    It would make me laugh if he weren't in the process of destroying my state.

    Jindal: Give everything to the states to do!

    Obama: Here, set up a health insurance exchange.

    Jindal: I don't wanna!

  • Josef K on January 25, 2013 1:56 PM:

    But what’s most amazing about Jindal’s speech

    First, are we absolutely sure it was Jindal speaking? He wasn't just lip-synching?

    Second, am I the only one who is put in mind of M. Night Shymalan whenever this guy pops up?

    Third, good catch by dp above. Jindal and the rest of the neo-State's-Rights crowd are going to have a devil of a time getting this big round peg (the mandated insurance exchanges) into the tiny square peg of their ideology.

    Fourth, are we aboslutely, 100% certain Jindal was really speaking and not just lip-synching? Figured I'd better ask again.

  • Citizen Alan on January 25, 2013 2:03 PM:

    Even if Jindal were competent and charismatic, I wouldn't be worried about him. The elderly Klannish neanderthals who make up the bulk of the GOP have just proven that they will not rally behind a guy who looks like a movie-star president if he suffers the impediment of being a Mormon. There is no way they will get behind an Indian-American who converted from Hinduism to Catholicism.

  • Jamie on January 26, 2013 2:11 PM:

    Always Ironic seeing Rhodes scholar becoming populist