Bobby Jindal: Let's Get Small

Today a pair of leading Republicans—and potential presidential contenders for 2016—offered some indications that the party might actually have a conversation about its future that goes beyond nominating Marco Rubio and grudgingly submitting to immigration reform. In interviews with Politico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky had some bracing things to say about the GOP’s failures and future—though only one of them (guess which?) suggested anything more than an image makeover.

Jindal, who’s taking over as head of the Republican Governors Association this week, had lots of eminently quotable and bold-sounding things to say—not the least being that he acknowledged openly that Republicans had been “the stupid party,” and implied that Mitt Romney had been the chief dumbass: “The Republican Party is going to fight for every single vote,” he said, adding rather pointedly: “That means the 47 percent and the 53 percent.” And he told reporter Jonathan Martin, “We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything.” (Time to get small, GOP!) 

But beyond embracing some parts of Dodd-Frank and the “Volcker Rule,” Jindal—who’s been a right-wing governor, gutting public schools and slashing funds for hospitals—basically limited his idea of change to rejiggering the party’s image. His solution, beneath the frank talk, comes down to figuring out new ways to make Republicans once again look like a populist party—a new spin on the faux-populism Republicans used, from Nixon to Bush, to convince working- and middle-class folks they were on their side while working to make the wealthy wealthier.

Paul, channeling his daddy, called for something different—taking the Republicans’ libertarian trappings and turning them into something at least quasi-real by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession, creating a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, and scaling back on military adventurism. That's the kind of new direction that might—might—have some appeal to the under-45 voters who’ve rebuked the Republicans in recent elections. But they are about as likely to gain traction in the party as an effort to make it pro-choice and pro-gay. Jindal’s “big” idea—make cosmetic changes and sound like you’re offering something new, something less elitist, something less extreme—is almost surely the one that Republicans will latch onto.

So They Say

"I love you all very dearly, but I thought I'd tell my caucus first.”

Nancy Pelosi, telling reporters that they’ll have to wait till tomorrow to find out if she’s stepping down as House minority leader 

Daily Meme: Farewell My Cabinet

  • Now that Obama has won a second term, much of his long-suffering staff is ready to segue into retirement, or greener pastures (literally). 
  • The question eating up headlines this week is who will replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department so she can veg out and watch HGTV.
  • The two top candidates are Susan Rice and John Kerry, both of whom have some serious negatives working against them.
  • Kerry has wanted to be Secretary of State for quite awhile, and is pretty darn qualified ... 
  • ... but Democratic fears that his appointment would lead to Scott Brown swinging back into the Senate are high (though likely overstated)
  • Elsewhere in Secretary of State shortlist speculation, Jon Huntsman's name is being bandied about as a successor to the Team of Rivals cabinet throne.
  • But is America ready for a white, male Secretary of State? We haven't had one since 1997!
  • Rice, the current ambassador to the United Nations, could be the smoothest replacement given her closeness to the current State Department head, but Republicans are itching for a confirmation fight over Benghazi. 
  • Over at the Treasury Department, Tim Geithner is ready to run away as soon as Obama is sworn in again. Dude's pretty tired, it seems.
  • Erskine Bowles is a a frontrunner for the job ... to which Jamelle Bouie says, ugh. 
  • Chief of Staff Jack Lew is also an option; he worked with Tip O'Neill during the Republicans' favorite era to wax nostalgic about.
  • Business Insider has a list of other possibilities. But in the end, it's probably wisest to follow Leon Panetta's example: Throw up your hands and admit, "Who the hell knows?"

What We're Writing

  • Paul Waldman bids adieu to Romney by pondering why he couldn't connect. 
  • Robert Kuttner finds the bad news in the good news about U.S. oil production.

What We're Reading

  • Brendan Nyhan writes that it's high time we remember the hindsight bias that always shades post-election coverage.
  • The Economist warns that the Republican Party obituaries could be a bit premature: "as with past pronouncements of political realignments, much of the fulminating about a Republican demographic Waterloo is overblown."
  • Alex Seitz-Wald says the same about gleeful goodbye parties for super PACs.
  • Michelle Cottle pokes fun at liberals’ wish list for Obama’s second term. Ain't she a stitch?
  • Nate Cohn notes that the Republicans have some trouble with white voters, too—in the swing states. 
  • Better early than never? The Buffalo News  endorses Hillary Clinton for president.
  • In the wake of Obama’s re-election, secession is all the rage—in 30 states, at least.

Poll of the Day

In case you wondered why “Obamacare” receded as a rallying cry for Republicans this fall, a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll has an answer: Only 33 percent of Americans now want the Affordable Care Act to be repealed, and overall, more view it favorably than unfavorably. While seven in ten said the law was a “major” factor in their vote for president, they didn’t break for Romney: 47 percent of those folks went for the Republican, while 46 percent voted for Obama.

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