There’s more out there this afternoon about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s speech last night, which I wrote about earlier today, and the criticism isn’t just reserved for how Jindal came across as a speaker.
Jazz Shaw at The Moderate Voice, for example, says that Jindal’s speech was a microcosm of what’s still wrong with the GOP:
[S]uffered from the same lack of specificity we’ve seen in the Democrats’ plans. When he finished with his homespun narratives about the similarities between himself and Obama along with tales of hurricane Katrina he launched into the Republican view of how to address our current fiscal crisis. Unfortunately, it contained nothing more than the same glittering generalities we’ve been hearing for weeks. Cut taxes, you know how to handle your money better than we do, less taxes on business means more jobs… we’ve heard the song already. Parts of it have a lot of appeal, as there are many portions of the stimulus package which make me highly uncomfortable and don’t appear terribly stimulative. Unfortunately, Jindal’s message gave the impression of saying that it would be better to do nothing and let the economy crash and burn than to try things the way the Democrats are doing it.
If the Republicans want to be taken seriously in their opposition, it would benefit them to draw up a full package, complete with some spending and job stimulus instead of just tax cuts and more tax cuts. They should present that in a coherent form to the voters for consideration, even if the Democratic controlled Congress will never consider bringing it to the floor. Jindal failed to deliver any of that last night and dealt himself a head wound in the national debate in the process. A poor showing by all accounts, and there really isn’t much more to say about it.
And, as Byron York reports, it doesn’t appear that Republican insiders are saying much either:
I just got off the phone with a very plugged-in Republican strategist who told me that Republican reaction to President Obama’s speech, which the party will roll out in the next few days, will mark the beginning of a new GOP approach to opposing the president’s initiatives. (No, Bobby Jindal’s ineffective response was not part of that new approach — everyone seems a little embarrassed about that.)
Daniel Larison, meanwhile, makes an interesting observation about Jindal’s speech:
Now that I think about it, Jindal’s response was structured like a party convention speech, and all that was missing was the endorsement of the party’s presidential candidate. There is the introductory personal story, repeated efforts to play to the crowd’s old-time favorites, deliberate insertions of talking points that match the presidential candidate’s slogans (I can’t be the only one who groaned when Jindal talked about cutting out such-and-such a number of earmarks from the state budget) and the inevitable catchphrase that links an otherwise jumbled speech together with a theme. In this case, apparently it was that “Americans can do anything,” which is something most Americans may like hearing, but which hit my ears as painfully as if it were an icepick. I don’t expect public officials to eschew confidence-building rhetoric (indeed, the President could probably stand to have a bit more of that in his public remarks), but this unusually saccharine expression of optimism is not only at odds with the public mood, but it is just insulting.
Of course, Jindal was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at last year’s Republican National Convention, but canceled his appearance when Hurricane Gustav bore down on his state.
But none of the substantive critiques of the speech goes quite as far as David Brooks, who called the speech “an insane nihilist disaster” for the GOP:
This all goes back to what I’ve said repeatedly — the Republicans have no credibility right now and continued repitition of the same lines they were using during the campaign, right down to the old “socialism” tag, isn’t going to work. If the GOP is going to come out of this any time soon, they have to do two things; (1) Purge themselves of the leadership that led them to this disaster, and (2) Communicate to the American public a platform that amounts to more than just saying “no” all the time.
Until that happens, I think they’re going to have a hard time competing against this President.