Bobby Jindal Tells A Lie

It figures that the only way Republicans could use Hurricane Katrina to make themselves look good is by lying:

Looks like the game is up.

Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night — about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

Turns out it wasn’t actually, you know, true.

[…]

[A] Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone “days later.” The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.

This is no minor difference. Jindal’s presence in Lee’s office during the crisis itself was a key element of the story’s intended appeal, putting him at the center of the action during the maelstrom. Just as important, Jindal implied that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. But it turns out Jindal wasn’t there at the key moment, and played no role in making the rescue happen.

[…]

The central anecdote of the GOP’s prime-time response to President Obama’s speech, intended to illustrate the threat of excessive government regulation, turns out to have been made up.

And Jindal couldn’t even admit his falsehood himself–he had a spokesperson do it for him.

First Bobby Jindal gives one of the worst speeches in modern political history, then it turns out that one of the central anecdotes in his speech–meant to illustrate his entire point about the role of government–was a lie.

Like I said right after Jindal’s speech, never have I seen a rising star fall so fast.  I wonder if this is one-two punch will dog Jindal’s chances if he decides to run in 2012; blatant lying doesn’t tend to sit well with the American people.

Tea Partay (UPDATED)

Today is the day of the glorious hip-GOP tea partay. Change is coming, America, and these guys are going to bring it:

So, what are these protests going to accomplish besides making a bunch of out-of-power Republicans feel better about being hugely unpopular?

…yeah, that’s what I figured.

UPDATE: And in case anyone actually believes the Tea Partays are some kind of spontaneous taxpayer revolt, here are the folks who are organizing and bankrolling them (according to the Tea Partay’s very own website, newamericanteaparty.com):

the American Spectator, the Heartland Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Institute for Liberty, the Coalition for a Conservative Majority and the Young Conservatives Coalition.

So this is a joint effort between the who’s who of the conservative movement and a who’s who of right-wing bloggers.

In other words, conservative activists are protesting a Democratically-proposed bill that was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by a Democratic President. And this is notable/surprising/newsworthy…how?

Oh right, it isn’t.  Progressives opposed Bush and conservatives oppose Obama; this isn’t some kind of groundbreaking, revolutionary movement; it’s politics as usual.  Even worse for conservatives, it’s the same kind of navel-gazing gimmickry that helped put them in the minority in the first place.

Someone needs to teach these guys history. The Boston Tea Party actually accomplished something; these Tea Partays are just down-on-their-luck conservatives trying to pretend they’re still relevant.

Biting The Hand That Feeds You

Gail Collins:

Louisiana has gotten $130 billion in post-Katrina aid. How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to places like Alaska and Louisiana. Which is fine, as long as we don’t have to hear their governors bragging about how the folks who elected them want to keep their tax money to themselves. Of course they do! That’s because they’re living off ours.

Here are the top ten states that receive the most federal tax money per every dollar they pay, color-coded by how they voted in the 2008 Presidential election:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Mississippi
  3. Alaska
  4. Louisiana
  5. West Virginia
  6. North Dakota
  7. Alabama
  8. South Dakota
  9. Kentucky
  10. Virginia

Here are the top ten states that receive the least federal tax money per every dollar they pay, color-coded by how they voted in the 2008 Presidential election:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Nevada
  3. Connecticut
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Minnesota
  6. Illinois
  7. Delaware
  8. California
  9. New York
  10. Colorado

[Source]

So, if we actually listened to Republicans and cut federal taxes, the Republican-voting red states  would be hurt the most.  Turns out that the GOP’s grandstanding on taxes is nothing more than hot air–they have no problem railing against high taxes while simultaneously taking tax dollars hand-over-fist from blue states.

Gimmickry

Conservative blogger Patrick Ruffini discusses Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher:

Joe the Plumber — a one or two day campaign gimmick — has become a poster boy for conservatism. To say that the McCain campaign milked Joe Wurzelbacher’s story and then some would be the understatement of the century. Now, conservatives are making him a foreign war correspondent and he is sure to be feted at CPAC — so I’m sure to get a certain amount of grief for what I’m writing now.

If you want to get a sense of how unserious and ungrounded most Americans think the Republican Party is, look no further than how conservatives elevate Joe the Plumber as a spokesman. The movement has become so gimmick-driven that Wurzelbacher will be a conservative hero long after people have forgotten what his legitimate policy beef with Obama was.

I think “gimmick-driven” is, quite possibly, the most astute criticism of the Republican Party I have ever heard.

Remember when John McCain “suspended” his Presidential campaign to fly to Washington and fix the economic crisis? Remember when McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate?

Remember the GOP’s response to the economic stimulus package, which turned into a never-ending circus of embarrassing political gimmicks? Republican lawmakers complained about how many pages the bill was, even though—obviously—the length of a bill has no impact whatsoever on whether or not it’s a good piece of legislation. They complained about the cost of the bill, which would have been a worthy criticism had they not made it in the stupidest way possible, gabbing on about how high a stack of 1 trillion $1 bills would reach or how, if you spent a million dollars a day since the birth of Jesus, you wouldn’t spend as much money as was contained in that bill.

Yes, the stimulus bill had a big price tag, but nobody was trying to hide it. President Obama and the Democrats said from the start that we needed a large stimulus package; it wasn’t like everyone needed the GOP to tell them what the bill cost.

The sheer cost of the bill wasn’t important; what was important was the return on investment, how much economic growth that money would create. In the end, the GOP gave no coherent, worthwhile reason to oppose the bill. Where was their economics?

The list of gimmicks goes on and on: embracing Twitter as quick-fix to their poor messaging, hosting pointless “tea parties,” forcing a Michael Steele hip-GOP image makeover, etc. The right is hoping they’ll stumble across a magic bullet that will rocket them back into the majority, which is the kind of short-sighted, shallow thinking that’s going to keep them in the minority.

As Ruffini says,

Conservatives should not need Joe the Plumber to prove their middle class bona fides. We are naturally the party of the middle, and we don’t need gimmicks to prove it.

I agree with part of Ruffini’s point–the GOP shouldn’t need gimmicks, their policies should  be able to speak for themselves.  For instance, picking a random middle-class person to read your talking points doesn’t prove you’re the party of the middle class; embracing policies that help the middle class prove you’re the party of the middle class.

Somewhere along the way, Republicans forgot that the underpinning of politics is policy and they jettisoned political substance in favor of whatever stunt they hope will win the day’s news cycle.  Getting the conservative movement to kick it’s gimmickry habit and getting them to be serious once again should be the first step toward any kind of Republican revival.

$2 Trillion Over 10 Years

That’s how much money President Obama’s budget will save the American people:

With its new budget due Thursday, the White House is promising $2 trillion in 10-year savings, with an estimated $635 billion held in reserve as a down payment toward President Barack Obama’s pledge of health care reform.

[…]

Obama’s focus on high-end taxpayers is consistent with his larger philosophy — both in taxes and spending. In the case of agriculture subsidies, for example, the budget is also expected to limit government payments to farms earning more than $500,000. At the same time the president would extend his payroll tax break — most beneficial for working class families — while collecting more revenue by allowing some of the Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthy expire.

$2 trillion. That’s nearly enough to pay off the Wall Street bailout ($700 billion), the economic stimulus package ($800 billion) and the foundation of a universal health care program. All of those things will be paid for through good old-fashioned fiscal responsibility.

So it turns out that all the Republican complaining about the high cost of the stimulus package, calling it “generational theft” and whatnot, was just so much hot air.

Pork!

Remember the weeks-long Republican campaign to derail the economic stimulus package? Remember all the ranting about “pork” and complaining about “wasteful spending dressed in ‘stimulus’ clothes“? Remember the Republicans complaining that it was”generational theft”  “larded up with wasteful spending“?

Well, turns out the Republicans have no problem with wasteful spending when it benefits them:

A ten percent increase in the budget for Congressional operations was needed because Senate Republicans wanted to retain previous staff levels despite having lost roughly 20 percent of their ranks in the 2008 elections, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Wednesday.

[…]

Reid, asked about the increase at a press conference, initially dodged the question, speaking instead about spending in general.

The unsatisfied reporter repeated the question about a ten percent raise for the congressional budget. “How is that going to help get out of the depression?” she pressed.

Don’t blame us, said Reid.

“We had a situation — you should direct that question to Senator McConnell,” he said, referring to the Senate Minority Leader, “because we had trouble organizing this year. He wanted to maintain a lot of their staffing even though they had lost huge numbers. And the only way we could get it done is to do what we did. So you should direct that question to Senator McConnell.”

A McConnell spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call.

Oh, the hypocrisy.

So, according to Republican logic, spending money to help the American people through an economic crisis is wasteful pork that should be opposed at all costs, yet spending a couple billion dollars to give Congressional Republicans bigger staffs is a completely worthwhile and necessary expense.

When it comes to helping you, the GOP is the Party of No.  But when it comes to helping themselves, the GOP is the Party of Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie. ‘Let them eat cake’ indeed.

Obama: 1, Jindal: 0

President Obama hit it out of the park last night. And don’t take my word for it–just listen to the American people:

CNN

The economic plan Obama outlined tonight: 82% SUPPORT / 17% OPPOSE

Reaction to Obama’s speech: 68% VERY POSITIVE / 24% SOMEWHAT POSITIVE / 8% NEGATIVE

And:

CBS

The stimulus is going to help me.

Before Obama’s speech: 62% AGREE

After Obama’s speech: 79% AGREE

As for Bobby Jindal’s response, well, is there a worse word than ‘terrible’?

His delivery was atrocious–Jindal came off as condescending, like he was speaking to a class of elementary school students instead of the American people. It was hard to even focus on what he was saying through the smugness.

More importantly, the content of his speech was abysmal. Democrats and Republicans might disagree on what the federal government should do to fix this economic crisis, but saying that the federal government should nothing is stupid at best and nihilistic at worse.

And the way Jindal invoked Hurricane Katrina was just appalling:

Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us.

Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts.

Who was in charge of the federal government when Hurricane Katrina happened? Republicans. The poor response to Hurricane Katrina wasn’t a bad reflection on governance itself; it was a bad reflection on Republican governance. Invoking one of the GOP’s biggest failures of leadership during a crisis isn’t exactly the best way to restore people’s faith in Republican leadership during a crisis.

Honestly, never have I seen a rising star fall so fast.  The GOP built huge amounts of hype up around Bobby Jindal, yet he ended up falling far short of anyone’s expectations.