Jindal

JINDAL…. Time‘s Joe Klein caught Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on “Meet the Press” this morning, and wasn’t impressed.

At one point in the interview, Jindal — who seems to be running for President — trotted out the standard Republican boilerplate about the need for a package with more tax cuts, especially in the capital gains tax. David Gregory pointed out that we’d just had eight years of that philosophy, and it hadn’t done very much to help job creation or median incomes. Jindal resorted to the Republican fantasy playbook — to the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts, which allegedly helped boost the economy. (Actually, it was the Carter-Volcker monetary reforms that set the economy on a more stable path for growth in the early 1980s.) Needless to say, Jindal didn’t mention either the Reagan tax increases (proportionately the largest in U.S. history) or the slightly smaller Clinton increases, which led to the lowering of interest rates and the economic boom of the 1990’s. Nor did he mention the 30 years of neglect the nation’s infrastructure has suffered during the Reagan era — not just the neglect of roads and bridges and levees, but also of the sorts of high-tech and green infrastructure programs (including mass transit and high-speed rail) that will lay the basis for a more efficient economy in the future.

In other words, Jindal — the alleged voice of the GOP future — had absolutely nothing new to say. And what he did say, about the stimulus, was purposefully misleading. I’m not sure how well the Obama stimulus, banking and budget plans will work. No one does. But I do know how the philosophy and the misleading politics that Jindal offered today has worked in the recent past.

It’s been a disaster.

This seems to happen a lot. A “rising star” in Republican politics decides he or she should be on the national stage; drops any pretense of intellectual seriousness; and trades the respect of credible observers for the adoration of the Republican base.

In this case, Klein has always found Jindal to be “very smart,” “quite creative,” and “always intellectually honest.” Then Klein saw the new, more hackish Jindal, and is left wondering where that credible guy went. In Klein’s case, respect has turned to scorn.

We saw this same pattern with John McCain, who also quickly made a similar transition in preparation for 2008, and even George W. Bush in 2000, who had plenty of admirers in the political establishment, which characterized Bush as having a reputation as a moderate, pragmatic governor.*

The difference seems to be that Jindal is trading his reputation for seriousness and intellectual honesty much sooner than seems necessary.

* edited slightly for clarity