Bobby Jindal, Meet Strunk And White
Politics

Bobby Jindal, Meet Strunk And White

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Barely had the executive jets departed Boston's Logan Airport filled with disappointed Mitt Romney backers after the 2012 election than Bobby Jindal was out of the box declaiming on what the Republican Party needed to do to win back the White House. In an interview with Politico, Jindal declared that the GOP needed to "stop being the stupid party": "It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments enough of that," Jindal said. "It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters." He called on Republicans to be the "party of ideas, details and intelligent solutions," and to "stop reducing everything to mindless slogans, tag lines, 30-second ads that all begin to sound the same."

These remarks, along with similar ones Jindal made in the post-election weeks, helped vault the Louisiana governor back to the head of the Future of the Republican Party pack, where he'd been for a while before his unfortunate turn in the State of the Union response had tarnished his luster as the party's Wonk Wonder. Just a few months later, though, Jindal's prospects suffered another setback with the collapse of his high-profile effort to slash income taxes in his state. But now he's back yet again with another barnburner declaration, again in Politico, on what his party needs to do. In the span of just half a year, Jindal has flipped from scathingly self-critical to bluffly boosterish, telling his fellow Republicans that it's time for them to put on their "big-boy pants":

No more self-analysis; we’ve had our catharsis. The season for navel gazing has passed. Let’s stop defeating ourselves, get on offense, and go kick the other guys around. If you’ve followed the news over the past month, they are certainly asking for it. We are the conservative party in America deal with it. We have a lot of dissenting voices. So what? Deal with it. The American public waxes and wanes. Fine. It will wax again soon enough. Deal with it, and start fighting for our principles instead of against them, so we can be in position to create the next wave.

Jindal then launches into a catalogue of all the reasons that this newly un-self-critical party will prevail as a matter of course:
 
At some point, the American public is going to revolt against the nanny state and the leftward march of this president. I don’t know when the tipping point will come, but I believe it will come soon. Why?

Because the left wants: The government to explode; to pay everyone; to hire everyone; they believe that money grows on trees; the earth is flat; the industrial age, factory-style government is a cool new thing; debts don’t have to be repaid; people of faith are ignorant and uneducated; unborn babies don’t matter; pornography is fine; traditional marriage is discriminatory; 32 oz. sodas are evil; red meat should be rationed; rich people are evil unless they are from Hollywood or are liberal Democrats; the Israelis are unreasonable; trans-fat must be stopped; kids trapped in failing schools should be patient; wild weather is a new thing; moral standards are passé; government run health care is high quality; the IRS should violate our constitutional rights; reporters should be spied on; Benghazi was handled well; the Second Amendment is outdated; and the First one has some problems too.

That's a doozy of a paragraph. I spent a long time looking at it for the "ideas, details and intelligent solutions" that its author was calling for not long ago. It also put me in mind of this sage advice from one William Strunk, Jr.:

 

Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form: This principle, that of parallel construction, requires that expressions of similar content and function should be outwardly similar. The likeness of form enables the reader to recognize more readily the likeness of content and function. Familiar instances from the Bible are the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the petitions of the Lord's Prayer.

I can just hear the retort from Baton Rouge: The Beatitudes? This is Politico, punk. Grammar's just one more thing the left wants. Deal with it.

 

Alec MacGillis is a New Republic senior editor. Follow him @AlecMacGillis

 

   
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