Five years ago, Bobby Jindal, then-governor of Louisiana, delivered an electrifying speech to the Republican National Committee. “We must stop being the stupid party,” he implored. “It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.” At the time he gave this speech, the GOP’s plummet into demagogic sloganeering had reached what appeared to be a nadir. From the standpoint of today, that position now seems painfully naïve. And Jindal has developed a new perspective. His party, he now believes, is not stupid enough.
Jindal articulates his new, pro-stupid philosophy in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today. He addresses Trump supporters who appreciate the president’s policy accomplishments but “wish he’d stop tweeting and picking fights” and prefer “he acted more presidential and stopped insulting reporters, entertainers, senators, foreign leaders and Gold Star families.” Jindal argues that this belief — that Trump should stop speaking like a professional wrestler who has sustained serious brain damage that constricts his vocabulary to a third-grade level — “misses the point entirely. Trump’s style is part of his substance. His most loyal supporters back him because of, not despite, his brash behavior.” Get with the program, Republican poindexters.
It has been a long, sad fall for Jindal. His anti-tax orthodoxy wrecked his state’s budget so badly he ruined his own career and delivered a deeply red state to the Democrats. The experience of total failure has not left him questioning his program at all. Instead, he seems to have decided that his mistake was failing to combine his program of mindless wanton tax-cutting with sufficiently crude insults.
Jindal’s 2013 pleading for his party to steer off the intellectual low road now has morbid overtones. “We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments,” he lectured. “We’ve had enough of that.” No, they hadn’t had nearly enough.
Jindal continued, “We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. We have to stop dumbing down our ideas and stop reducing everything to mindless slogans and tag lines for 30-second ads. We must be willing to provide details in describing our views.” And now Jindal realizes the problem all along was that their policy was already too detailed and the slogans were not mindless enough.