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.