The full gamut of punditry had little praise for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's rebuttal speech Tuesday night. Notably, Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman, responding to the flak Jindal gave high-speed rail and volcano-monitoring, has labeled the GOP 'the party of Beavis and Butthead':
So what did Bobby Jindal choose to ridicule in this response to Obama last night? Volcano monitoring, of course.
The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.
Sam Stein has more on the response from Democrats, Republicans and pundits, who more or less reached consensus: the speech was an awkward, embarrassing flop. From Stein:
"After watching Jindal," one Democratic strategist emailed, "I'd pay a lot of money to be back watching a Palin speech."
"Awkward with capital A," emailed another.
The punditry was equally brutal. Part of the problem was the crux of Jindal's address, which consisted almost entirely of red meat for conservatives. The Governor offered criticism for anything other than tax cuts and ridiculed government spending for items that are either widely supported -- "$8 billion for high-speed rail" -- or seemingly essential -- "$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring'" (isn't Louisiana Exhibit A in the need for natural disaster warning?).
And as Jason Linkins notes, even the usually lackluster New York Times columnist David Brooks became somewhat animated in his reaction to the speech, describing Jindal's argument on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as "just a form of nihilism". The transcript:
LEHRER: How well did he do?
BROOKS: Not so well. You know, I think Bobby Jindal is a very promising politician, and I opposed the stimulus package - I thought it was poorly drafted - but to come up at this moment in history with a stale, "government is the problem...we can't trust the government"...it's just a disaster for the Republican Party. The country is in a panic, now. They may not like the way the Congress passed the stimulus bill. The idea that government is going to have no role in this...in a moment where only the Federal government is big enough to do stuff...to just ignore all that and say government's the problem...corruption, earmarks, wasteful spending - it's just a form of nihilism. It's just not where the country is, it's not where the future of the country is. There's an intra-Republican debate: some people say the Republican party lost its way because it got too moderate, some people say they got too weird or too conservative. He thinks they got too moderate, and he's making that case. I think it's insane. I think it's a disaster for the party. I just think it's unfortunate right now.