As I sat and watched the not-state-of-the-union speech earlier this week, part of me was mentally preparing for Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal's scheduled response and for the week-long GOP regurgitation of worn talking points and "cut taxes" liturgy.
As Jindal walked to the microphone, arms stiff at his side in a manner reminiscent of Jack Webb in the original Dragnet series, I pondered his reported brilliance and hoped for some of the wonkery for which he's acclaimed. What I heard was a sing-song recitation of stale, discredited concepts delivered as if Jindal was speaking to 4th graders as part of their annual "Take Your Governor to School" Day.
Jindal's "Americans can do anything!" rallying cry came across as desperate as it was false. We can't do anything - there are plenty of things we haven't been able to do throughout history. That's a pretty lofty benchmark, and there's nothing better than unrealistic goals.
Using hurricane Katrina as an example of when Louisiana rejected help from the government and pulled themselves up by their own soggy bootstraps was simply ludicrous. I seem to recall a couple of billion dollars flew into the bayou region in the months (years?) after Katrina blew through, but the Republican version of reality hasn't been in sync with the rest of the world for as long as I can remember.
Our financial firms are in shambles. The auto industry is in tatters, and it's difficult to hear over the death rattles coming from newspapers and magazines. Credit availability has dried up faster than Madonna's bajingo, unemployment continues to rise, and the housing market is in the dumper.
Yet Jindal had the temerity to suggest that government isn't the answer to the current crisis. Well, Mr. Jindal, who is? We're running out of options here.
After Obama's narrative, various outlets reported upwards of 80% of Americans approved of his approach and priorities. Citizens understand that the challenge is great, and a tough road awaits. The party that was in power the previous eight years contributed mightily to the current situation, and everyone knows it. There's only so much a party can accomplish when it's built on cliches, buzzwords, and fallacy.
The problem, Mr. Jindal, isn't government. It's Republican government. And we don't have one of those anymore.