Louisiana’s governor Bobby Jindal has been in the mix of probable GOP presidential contenders for what seems like ages now. A lot of that talk was muted after his bizarre and creepy response to the president’s first address to a joint session of Congress. You remember. The walk. The voice. The eyes. Anyway, he passed 2012 by without so much as a blip on most people’s radar.
After the Republicans’ drubbing last Tuesday, of course there is no end to the GOPers coming out of the woodwork who purport to have the solution to what ails the party. Jindal is among them, no doubt with the smell of 2016 in his nostrils, giving a long interview to Politico.
The gist is that Jindal thinks the GOP needed to speak more about specific, new ideas, rather than just being the party of the very rich. There’s definitely some cognitive dissonance for me there, but when you consider Jindal’s constituency (religious conservatives in a rural state) and his brand (brainy, young Christianist), it makes sense that he’d want to go in that direction.
But the phrasing he uses is too delicious to go unmocked. In his interview, Jindal decried what he calls “dumbed-down conservatism,” and said:
We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.
Now, this is difficult to swallow considering the source. Jindal is the guy whose voucher program in Louisiana is diverting public funds to Christian (not just religious, but Christian) schools, and who is stuffing Creationism into science classes. (Remember how the fact of the Loch Ness Monster proves that dinosaurs and people lived together? Yeah, Louisiana. Here are some more of those nuggets you can lose sleep over.) And to just to reach back a little further, Jindal is also a guy who was on hand for a few excorcisms in college.
I’m not just trying to prove that Jindal is a theocrat — we know that — but I do want to point out that this flies in the face of his professed prescription for healing the GOP nationally: to offer more policy specifics and to avoid being the party of “offensive, bizarre comments” like those that describe impregnation-by-rape as a gift from God. All of these bizarre comments, of course, stem directly from the kind of absolutist-Christian worldview that Jindal himself subscribes to. So I suppose what Jindal wants is a party that still believes all the same crazy things, but that he also doesn’t want anyone to talk about them.
As Politico reports:
On cultural issues, he suggested the party not retreat from its stances opposing abortion rights and gay marriage but rather soften its tone on such matters.
Ah. What I hope people remember is that even when they’re not talking about cultural issues, when they get elected, they still act on them. They still legislate their Bronze Age values, whether they discussed them in campaigns or not. Sounds to me like that’s precisely what it means to “insult the intelligence of the voters.”
Deriding “bumper-sticker slogans” as the basis for campaigning, Jindal said, “Simply being the anti-Obama party didn’t work. You can’t beat something with nothing.” But that sounds exactly like what he wants to do. The nothing, in this case, is the intention of his brand of religious conservatives. Or perhaps its the very basis of their agenda, a belief in something that isn’t there, telling them all what to do. That really is beating something with nothing.