Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is pulling no punches in offering fellow Republicans his prescription for patching up the party after a rough November election. "We must stop being the stupid party," the rising GOP star said in a keynote speech to the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting on Thursday night. "We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters." That, he said, means the GOP has to quit obsessing about crunching budget numbers and pushing for austerity, and focus instead on policies that promote growth and free markets. It means Republicans have to stop making "stupid and bizarre" comments — a reference to Senate candidate Todd Akin's statement about "legitimate rape" — and "compete for every single vote: the 47 percent and the 53 percent," a thinly veiled swipe at Mitt Romney's caught-on-camera dissing of Americans who pay no income taxes.
At Hot Air, Allahpundit says Jindal might be onto something. Mandatory spending, especially on health care, is running out of control. We'll never fix the problem without drumming it into people's "skulls, often and in grotesque detail, just what sort of Thunderdome clusterfark we’re facing" if we don't get our finances in order. Still, that doesn't mean it's smart to go into elections waving Rep. Paul Ryan's budget powerpoints as if Ryanism is "the party's national brand."
If you're looking to dig yourself out of the rubble of two devastating presidential defeats, taking the lead on shrinking America's beloved entitlement programs is a strange way to do it... We're cruising along right now with trillion-dollar deficits and the party that doesn't want to talk about entitlements just romped to victory in November. Maybe we're better off with the Jindal approach — stop talking about this issue, get elected, and then fall on the grenade when you must. [Hot Air]
At the very least, Jindal is claiming a role in the debate over how to broaden the GOP's appeal, says to Mark Preston at CNN. "If you just arrived from the planet Neptune, you should know that Jindal is not your stereotypical Republican," Preston says. "He is the son of immigrants from India." And like another emerging GOP leader — Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida — Jindal has a particular interest in helping the party get it right, as he, like Rubio, is pretty clearly eyeing a White House run in 2016.
The GOP is now coming to terms with one of its greatest weaknesses: searching for a way to appeal to minorities, after watching African-American, Asian and Hispanic voters overwhelmingly support Obama in November. Losing the black vote made sense, as African-Americans have traditionally been a Democratic voting bloc and Obama, of course, is the first black president. But witnessing Democrats win huge margins among Asian and Hispanic voters was distressing to the GOP. [CNN]
The question is, how will Jindal move beyond a headline-grabbing speech and actually change the policies championed by the GOP? Jamelle Bouie argues at The Washington Post that despite his tough talk, Jindal is just more of the same, as he "embodies the same right-wing policies that sank Mitt Romney and damaged the GOP’s appeal to middle and working-class Americans." In Louisiana, he has been Mr. Austerity, slashing spending on education and health care, Bouie says, while proposing a tax plan that's more regressive than Ryan's.
The fact of the matter is there are no real reformers among the leadership class of the Republican Party. Not Bobby Jindal. Not Marco Rubio (who, despite his feints in the direction of immigration reform, is hewing to the NRA line on guns). And not Paul Ryan (who will soon be submitting a budget that supposedly wipes away the deficit in 10 years, with no new revenues, which would require savage and deep cuts to government programs that help the poor and elderly). At most, these leaders offer a whitewash: Underneath all the new rhetoric of change and inclusiveness lurk the same unpopular policies and priorities skewed in favor of the rich and against the middle class and poor. [Washington Post]