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Bobby Jindal: Republicans Need to Move Even Further to the Right to Recapture the Center

The Louisiana Governor is setting himself up as the absolutist right's rising star.
 
 
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I will be watching for a transcript of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s  speech to the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Charlotte tonight with considerable anticipation. It looks like he’s going to personally brand the tendency within the GOP to identify “party reform” with an even more ideologically savage brand of conservatism than the one they’ve already embraced.

In an  account based on an advance copy of the speech, WaPo’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake (under the sycophantic headline, “Bobby Jindal Speaking Truth to GOP Power”—gag!) tell us this about Bobby’s Big Message:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will deliver a forceful denunciation of his party’s Washington-centric focus in a speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday evening, arguing that the GOP is fighting the wrong fight as it seeks to rebuild from losses at the ballot box last November.

“A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and short-sighted debate,” Jindal will tell the RNC members gathered in Charlotte, N.C. for the organization’s winter meeting, according to a copy of the speech provided to The Fix. “If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win….”

In the speech, Jindal will repeatedly caution that Republicans in Washington have fallen into the “sideshow trap” of debating with Democrats over the proper size of the federal government.

“By obsessing with zeroes on the budget spreadsheet, we send a not-so-subtle signal that the focus of our country is on the phony economy of Washington, instead of the real economy out here in Charlotte, and Shreveport (La.), and Cheyenne (Wyo.),” Jindal is set to say at one point in the speech. At another, he will argue that “Washington has spent a generation trying to bribe our citizens and extort our states,” adding: “As Republicans, it’s time to quit arguing around the edges of that corrupt system.”

So what’s that supposed to mean? Blowing up the “corrupt system” via nullification of secession? Just opposing every federal spending measure, regardless of merit? Do tell, governor.

What it means politically is a lot clearer: Jindal wants to be the champion—and perhaps the 2016 presidential candidate—of the very significant faction of the GOP that thinks the party’s problems are a lack of clarity and consistency in its conservative ideology, along with a habitual stupidity in presenting it. Take Todd Akin, give him Bobby Jindal’s brains and background, and you’ve got the winning formula!

So Jindal will go arch-demagogic in attacking Washington, even as he tries to build a swampy wingnut paradise back home in Louisiana, with a model  regressive tax system that supports conservative evangelical madrassas, and of course none o’ that soul-destroying satanic federal assistance via the Affordable Care Act.

It’s as smart a bet as any for where the Republican Party wants to go right now, which is anywhere other than the “center.” Perhaps the Charlotte appearance will begin a drumbeat of demands for a Jindal candidacy under the slogan: “Call for the exorcist!” There’s already a theme song:

 

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a Special Correspondent for The New Republic.

 
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