Jindal’s Daddy Warbucks Prescription

I haven’t had a chance to really dig into Bobby Jindal’s Big Defense Speech, delivered at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday (actually, I haven’t seen a transcript just yet). But the details of his pithy remarks probably don’t much matter. Unless you think Jindal has been just sitting there in Baton Rouge meditating on national security policy since he’s solved the Pelican State’s problems and has time on his hands, the speech was intended to Send a Message to elites looking for a GOP presidential candidate: he’s a big, brawling war-hawk despite his lack of foreign policy experience, and thus acceptable to the kind of conservatives who are attracted to Ted Cruz but think he’s too wild-ass to get nominated or elected (Bobby’s also been competing with Cruz as to who loves the Theocratic Jesus the most).

It is interesting, though, that the guy who came out of the last cycle calling for the GOP to become the party of “new ideas” is staking his national security cred on the stalest approach imaginable: a fixed percentage of GDP (four, to be exact) that will be guaranteed to the Pentagon, presumably to scare off enemies by the sheer bulk of its wallet.

As Daniel Harsanyi notes at The Federalist, this Daddy Warbucks prescription is precisely the kind of thinking that conservatives hoot at when it is advanced by liberals to show their devotion to social programs.

But it’s not the first time Bobby’s shown a fondness for gimmickry in international affairs. He was, as some of you may recall, the guy who suggested GOP congressmen dye their index fingers purple at George W. Bush’s 2005 State of the Union Address so they could show their excitement over the enduring democracy W. had introduced to Afghanistan. That turned out really well, didn’t it?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.