The Speeches

It's difficult to resist using the difference between President Obama's oration and Gov. Jindal's baby-talk sing-song of a presentation as metaphors for the state of the debate between the two parties.

No, I can't resist.

The President's speech was a return to the virtues that served him so well on the campaign trail. It was meaty. It inspired. It contained the outlines – vague outlines, but outlines nonetheless discernible – of a complex program whose goals and motives were explained to an attentive public in sentences with a reading level well in excess of junior high school. There was much to quibble with – the assertion that the US invented the car, the equally dubious claim that Social Security has problems in any way comparable to the other crises addressed to name but two – but there was even more to look forward to.

Contrast the GOP's spokesperson, so-called rising star Gov. Bobby Jindal. He spoke in sentences that clocked in at a grade-school level, the speed of delivery was lugubrious, or perhaps aimed at the part of the audience that processes the occasional polysyllable rather slowly. And the ideas, to the extent there were any (spend less money, government is bad) were rather simplistic too. He insulted our intelligence, or rather, assumed we didn't have any to insult. The contrast to Obama was stark, and unflattering.

After the initial shock wore off – the first returns for Jindal were bad even on Fox – the GOP noise machine swung into action, and revved up the line that Obama's policies were a 'spending fiesta' full of 'pork' that will pass uncountable debt on to our grandchildren (Jindal's soundbite was something like 'things we do not need and cannot afford'). I can understand a party and its propaganda arm betting that voters have never heard of Keynes, or are instinctive believers in the long discredited 'Treasury View' of macroeconomics. But can it also count on voters forgetting where much of current deficit came from (Bush and the GOP)? Or where it went (rich taxpayers' pockets, Haliburton)?

At present there are genuine reasons why an intelligent person might disagree with the President's ambitious, expensive, and (at present) somewhat formless plans for a revolution in energy, health care, and education. But are there any reasons — other than naked self-interest on the part of taxpayers making over $250,000 who might genuinely reason that the GOP will save them money (at least in the short term, before the dollar crashes were their policies to actually be implemented) — why an intelligent person would agree with the party of Jindal, McConnell, and Cantor?

One of the truest political maxims is that you can't beat something with nothing. Until it regroups and finds something to be for, the party of Jindal will learn the power of that maxim.

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8 Responses to The Speeches

  1. Dopey says:

    So the gist of your critique of the Republican response is that it just confirmed what you, a wise Ivy League Intellectual, already know: Republicans are stupid, ignorant, throwbacks incapable of seeing and understanding the great wisdom of the Enlightened One.

    I know that you are condescending to those who don’t believe wisely like you do. People who live in the real world get very used to dealing with the condescension ofpeople like you. But it just amazes me that someone who is in a profession of intellect and logic could POSSIBLY think that calling somebody stupid is a proper response.

    I hope your proud – I’m sure Yale is.

  2. michael says:

    Actually, I was vaguely hoping someone would point to me an actual substantive argument, but you sort of proved my point, didn’t you?

    PS. Note that I referred to “the party of Jindal, McConnell, and Cantor” which may not be exactly the same thing as “the GOP” — to the extent the GOP digs itself out of this hole, I think it will be by finding other stars and leaders.

  3. shee_hank says:

    Did you listen to the speech? He was talking down to EVERYONE, not just “a wise Ivy League Intellectual.” He spoke to us like he was Mr. Roger’s – now here we go kids. THAT is what was insulting, not that he is republican.

  4. Dopey says:

    The problem I have with your charactarization is that you attack Jindal personally, as if that’s the proper response to something you disagree with. I think it was pretty clear, intentional or otherwise, that you are calling Jindal and anyone who might think he’s the “future of the GOP,” which I do not necessarily, stupid. It’s just the usual name calling from the left, and Id say beneith you, but you do it all the time.

    No, it was not a great speech, but that is not at all my point. You could have responded to the speech by saying “It was not a good speech, it failed to XY&Z” but instead you just called everyone stupid again, which is just silly.

    And I hope you are not seriously invoking Keynes in this! The only people since the 1960’s who still think Keynes is creadible are people who have ignored the previous 60 years of history and a small handful of academics and politicos who can’t let their socialist dream die the death it deserves. You can debate particular aspects of conservative econ as being wrong on one point or another, but virtually every aspect of Keynes’ theories has been disproved by simple history where reality went in the opposite direction from traditional keynesian predictions, and where millions have tossed of the keynesian yoke to their own great success. It’s just evidence of non-serious thinking to still believe in Keynes! C’mon the GOP is full of crap in a lot of ways, but Keynes! Really!? (Of couse, most people who believe in Keynes, really don’t believe in what he ACTUALLY said, just the myth of what he said as passed on to them by the True Believers. Or more shamfully, invoking Keynes to give cred to a bad idea because the great unwashed who won’t understand the math, WILL understand the invocation.)

    But then I suppose something fundamental about might appeal to a Yale man. Keynes believed that the world would be a better place if Government was controlled by boards of the smart men from Cambridge who would decide everything from how much electricity you could have to how many kids you could sire. (you know THAT’s always worked out before!)

    Maybe we could start up the sterilization boards again to get rid of those who won’t produce tax revenue, and start rounding up the political prisoners whose crime it is to have the audacity to speak out against presidential policy, as we did under both FDR and Wilson. Lot’s of great ideas of the Left could be put back in place! You’ll have this place running like a clock again in no time, I’m sure. Of course, if the stimulus DOESN’T work, it’ll just be the fault of GOP sabbatage anyway, so you always have an out. Every socialist regime needs someone to blame – as we’ve learned.

  5. michael says:

    Where is the personal attack? Did I express a view on whether he is a good or bad person? Did I address his eccentric religious views? No, I attacked his delivery of a major speech, the ideas it expressed, and what it says about his wing of his party.

    Incidentally, even the right-wing Politico largely agrees with my characterization of the speech.

    I’m starting to wonder if I should ban pseudonymous posting. Too many of my right-wing commentators appear to be cowards who write non-serious stuff but, it seems, do have the brains to not stand behind it. Perhaps something that tried to authenticate identities would cause them to up their game.

    Note that the paragraph above, unlike the post itself, WAS a personal attack. Spot the difference. (Apologies if, by signing the post “Dopey,” you were making a subtle point about the kind of people who write stuff like that. Then I guess the joke is indeed on me.)

  6. michael says:

    LA Times, GOP not pleased with Jindal’s speech,

    The reviews were swift and scathing: Off-putting. Amateurish. Disastrous.

    And those were fellow Republicans reacting to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who delivered the nationally broadcast follow-up to President Obama’s speech to Congress on Tuesday night.

    Fellow conservatives criticized Jindal’s mannerisms, his sing-song delivery, the backdrop for his 10-minute speech (a spiral staircase in the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge).

    David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, said Jindal delivered a “stale” message promoting the “insane” notion that the GOP had become too moderate. “I just think it’s a disaster for the party,” Brooks said on PBS’ “NewsHour.”

    Cain and others challenged some of Jindal’s assertions, most notably a suggestion that the federal government has had little to do with Louisiana’s continuing recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

  7. Marie says:

    I absolutely think you should start authenticating posts. This way you can do everything possible to eliminate posts that disagree with your passing on of the propaganda. Nothing says Leftist Freedom like soft and hard censoring of the dopes that have the cowardly nerve to disgree.

  8. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Wow, I didn’t catch the speech until just now, it is awful. He literally sounds like he is talking to a bunch of 10 year old kids, because of his intonations. He sounds deeply unserious, at least to the extent that he is intending to provide substantive criticism of the President’s plans and policies. He sounds really serious if he is teaching 10 years olds about the magic of America.

    I have not gotten through the whole video, but I now understand everyone’s complaints. Just terrible.

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