Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old Whine in a New Bottle

If Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) is the new face of the Republican party, then based on his response to President Obama’s speech last night, they have a lot of work to do.

First, it’s probably not a good idea for a Republican to hold up the response to Hurricane Katrina as an example of how we can’t rely on government to solve our problems. That’s like saying, “Hey, if you think the Democrats are going to bury you in red tape and government meddling, they’ve got nothing on President Bush and Brownie.”

Second, while Mr. Jindal is a nice enough gentleman, he came across like a mash-up between Newt Gingrich and Mister Rogers, and not in a good way. (Even the GOP cheerleaders at Fox News thought he blew it.) It was almost creepy to hear him talk down to us with a wheedling tone that recycled the old GOP talking points about taxing and spending, and it was as if he had not watched a moment of the speech that immediately preceded him. Mr. Jindal may be a good speaker and full of new ideas about how the Republicans can restore the nation’s trust in their ideas, but handing him boilerplate texts from 1993 and pallid snark that are aimed only at feeding the fundraisers doesn’t herald the dawn of new era for them. It’s the same old whining and sniping without solutions — tell me how lower taxes and traditional families are going to get homeowners back on their feet or fix the crumbling ceilings in high schools in Liberty City — and it’s those reasons why the Republicans got their heads handed to them in two consecutive elections.

Just a reminder: the last time the Republicans trotted out a fresh new face to revitalize the party and bring in new ideas, it was 1999 and it was George W. Bush.