Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report noted something Thursday night on her Twitter feed that is worth looking at a little closer.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's speech at the Republican National Committee meeting in Charlotte last night was an almost total repudiation - and dismissal - of Paul Ryan.
Jindal did not mention Ryan by name, and a Jindal spokesman e-mailed to dispute this interpretation (see below), but the 41-year old governor spoke mockingly of Republicans who are "in love with zeroes" as he urged conservatives to stop focusing on Washington and to "re-orient our focus to the place where conservatism thrives – in the real world beyond the Washington Beltway."
Ryan, 42, the Republican House Budget Committee Chairman from Wisconsin, is nothing if not a wonk, and he has made his mark in the GOP - and was chosen by Mitt Romney to be his running mate last year - largely because of his work crafting a Republican budget proposal and because of his expertise on the ins and outs of the federal budget process, as well as the health care realm.
Jindal and Ryan are both top GOP prospects to run for president in 2016. And Jindal seemed to be taking clear aim at Ryan in his remarks, with passages in his speech like this:
Today’s conservatism is completely wrapped up in solving the hideous mess that is the federal budget, the burgeoning deficits, the mammoth federal debt, the shortfall in our entitlement programs…even as we invent new entitlement programs.
We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping.
This is a rigged game, and it is the wrong game for us to play.
Today’s conservatism is in love with zeroes.
We think if we can just unite behind a proposal to cut the deficit and debt…if we can just put together a spreadsheet and a power point and a TV ad….all will be well.
This obsession with zeroes has everyone in our party focused on what? 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, and Cheyenne.
We as Republicans have to accept that government number crunching – even conservative number crunching – is not the answer to our nation’s problems.
We also must face one more cold hard fact – Washington is so dysfunctional that any budget proposal based on fiscal sanity will be deemed ‘not-serious’ by the media, it will fail in the Senate, and it won’t even make it to the President’s desk where it would be vetoed anyway.
Jindal made sure to not completely dismiss Ryan and other Republicans in Washington, with this section:
Yes, we certainly do need folks in Washington who will devote themselves to the task of stopping this President from taking America so far off the ledge that we cannot get back.
We must do all we can to stop what is rapidly becoming the bankrupting of our federal government.
But we as conservatives must dedicate our energies and our efforts to growing America, to growing the American economy, to showing the younger generations how America can win the future.
But by and large, these portions of Jindal's speech were a statement that the work being done in Washington, and those Republicans doing it, are bit players. The implication then is that governors are the ones doing the real work to advance conservative principles and to show the effectiveness of their ideas.
Spokesmen for Ryan and Jindal did not respond to e-mails asking for comment.
Update - 6:47 p.m. - Jindal communications director Kyle Plotkin e-mails:
You are seeing it the wrong way.
The Governor has been clear that it is the job of Republicans to be fiscally responsible and balance the budget.
Paul Ryan has been doing more serious work in that vein than anyone in government and the Governor is grateful for it.
Paul is a friend of the Governor's and has his full-throated support.
The Governor made clear that fiscal conservatism and stopping President Obama's spending is vital.
His point is that budget balancing is a tool, not an agenda or a vision for a party. We have to have an agenda that is bigger than the numbers in the federal budget.