"The Intra-Republican Fight"
The delivery of Bobby Jindal’s speech Tuesday night was so bad that my first instinct was to focus on that. But David Brooks, as seen in this clip below from PBS, went straight to it:
There’s an intra-Republican debate. Some people say the Republican Party lost it’s way because it got too moderate. Some people say got too weird, too conservative. He [Jindal] thinks they got too moderate and so he’s making that case. I think it’s insane, and I just think it’s a disaster for the party; I just think it’s unfortunate right now.
I would be a bit more optimistic than Brooks about the political merits of the hard-right agenda. This certainly isn’t where the country is right now but it’s not so unreasonable to think that things might change. I think we’ll be growing again in late 2012 and Obama will probably get re-elected no matter Republicans say or do. But it’s possible that things will really go off the rails and we’ll have a years-long L-shaped recession in which case if what the opposition party has to offer is hard-right nihilism, then hard-right nihilism is what the voters will embrace. The problem with the “Republicans must become more conservative” viewpoint is that it’s bad for the country. Ultimately, both parties matter. And neither party is ever going to be perfect—beyond ideology, there’s a lot of corruption, self-dealing, interest-group mucking around, etc. To have good policy on a sustained basis required both parties to have some level of interest in good policy.