Yet Jindal's message, rebutting the President's speech on the freshly-minted stimulus, was disappointingly trite. He opened with what can only be described as a curious mix of condescension – basically "Gee, isn't it neat-o that we have a black president?" – before attempting to co-opt Obama's mojo by reminding everyone that he, too, comes from what a shallower man would characterize as a "non-traditional" background. He then proceeded to engage in the kind of vacuous pro-America fluff that constitutes the G.O.P.'s message in the post-Reagan era, best summed up by the title of his response, "Americans Can Do Anything." What is "anything" you ask? Couldn't rightly say, although we got some great lines about how we need to pull together and how we're much wiser than the folks in Washington. A smart man might say, "Hey, governor, when we want to pull together – isn't that a core function of our federal government?" Of course, not, stupid: if you should have learned one thing from the
While Gov. Jindal did not refer to the stimulus as the "porkulus" – Rush Limbaugh's preferred term – he did bemoan the inclusion of money for mag-lev trains and volcano monitoring as representative of its contents: frivolous bonbons that a money-drunk Democratic Congress couldn't help but stuff into government's pockets. Nevermind the fact that an effective stimulus by definition requires massive and quick amounts of spending, or that modern infrastructure or emergency warning systems – replace "volcano monitoring" with "hurricane monitoring" and you catch my drift – are precisely the types of investments government should be making. Also ignore the fact that Louisiana is slated to receive $3.8 billion in funding from the stimulus, though Jindal has indicated that he will only accept $3.7 billion on principle – doesn't want to have to raise taxes on business to support expanded unemployment benefits.
Speaking of tax cuts, why, if you guessed that they were Gov. Jindal's solution to the problem, well, you'd be right! Nevermind the fact that unemployed Americans don't typically have incomes and ergo don't pay income taxes. Or the fact that Obama's plan actually does contain enormous tax cuts in addition to the Bush legacy. Tax cuts remain the panacea that will fix every problem, dot every i, and put a chicken in every pot. Why, Bobby's cut taxes six times in Louisiana! Nevermind that sticky fact that the federal government – read: you and I – have been pumping money to Lousiana hand over fist since Katrina, or that we're chucking another $4B their way, or that Louisiana has some of the most grinding poverty in America, why cutting taxes works like a charm! You'd be a fool not to cut away! Also, while we're on the subject, can I interest you in some tax credits for exploratory drilling for oil and natural gas?
Jindal, like many Republicans, has also found religion on deficit spending: we mustn't borrow from our children in order to fund today's trillion dollar stimulus. Of course, borrowing from our children was a-OK when it came to funding an elective war in Iraq or cutting taxes for the Bernie Madoffs of the world. Frankly, I wonder if our children might not be happy that we borrowed from them if the choice was between deficits later or, you know, another Great Depression today. Naw, they would just say, "But mom, dad, don't you know that Americans can do anything? Don't worry about us, we love sleeping in the car and eating all of our meals out of a can! We can huddle next to each other for warmth! Anyways, we don't want you taking any of those soul-crushing, character-depleting handouts from our European-style socialist government on our account."
Most frustrating, perhaps, is either the complete disingenuousness or obliviousness that the G.O.P. continues to display in the face of its epic ideological failure. It breaks my heart every time I see a Republican pol like Jindal get up and tell some horrible story about how his father had to find an extra job in order to pay for Jindal's delivery at birth, and then, rather than saying, "Hey, we ought to do something about that," goes back to the same old bootstraps-and-ingenuity razmatazz that is basically G.O.Pig latin for "sink or swim." Essentially it implies that Americans who are unable to overcome serious economic hardships are somehow morally defective and ergo undeserving of having their most basic human needs met. The disappointment/absurdity was only compounded when Jindal assured the audience that the Republican Party stood for universal access to health coverage, and then in the very next sentence derided the possibility of a government health care scheme. To me, this sounds like, "The Republican Party stands for extinguishing fires, but not if it means adopting a big government solution like a fire department. I was thinking that if we gave the town's wealthiest citizens another tax cut we could convince them to collectively stand around burning buildings and urinate." Of course you know how the story will end: they'll take the money and still won't piss on you to put the fire out.