Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stood before 1,200 of the well-heeled GOP faithful at a Tuesday night fundraiser and declared:
The time of introspection and navel gazing is officially over. We need to stop worrying about the past, about fixing the Republican Party and worry more about fixing our country and helping to chart our country’s future.
Bold words from a young man who may be attempting to grasp the fallen GOP standard and rally the party under his banner for 2010 and beyond.
His speech, given at a National Republican Campaign Committee event, served two purposes. First, he was attempting to rehabilitate himself following his poorly received response to President Obama’s State of the Union message. To that end, Jindal joked that given President Obama’s policy against torture, “it is now illegal to show my speech to prisoners at Gitmo.” The crowd tittered but there were few laughs. The fact is, even his supporters felt Jindal could have done a lot better in his prime-time debut, and many more thought his appearance was a disaster. The episode appeared to be too fresh in many people’s minds for them to respond to the kind of self-deprecating humor attempted by the Louisiana governor.
No matter. People will eventually forget that speech as most forgot Bill Clinton’s debut at the 1988 Democratic Convention, where, as keynote speaker, he droned on and on until many in the audience were calling on him to quit the stage.
What ever happened to him?
But the primary goal of Jindal’s appearance was to put himself in a strong position should he choose to run for president in 2012. To that end, he gave the Republicans exactly what they needed: a coherent, positive agenda to promote and, more importantly, a reason to be proud of their opposition to the president’s spending and tax plans.
The Democrats had been making much political hay from the idea that the GOP was hoping the president would “fail,” advancing the notion that Republican opposition to Obama meant that they wanted people to suffer and the American economy to go into a meltdown. Jindal rightly dismissed this meme as a “gotcha game,” while unapologetically declaring that opposing the president and the Democrats was the right thing to do:
“The right question to ask is not if we want the president to fail or succeed, but whether we want America to succeed. Make no mistake: Anything other than an immediate and compliant, ‘Why no sir, I don’t want the president to fail,’ is treated as some sort of act of treason, civil disobedience or political obstructionism,” Jindal said at a political fundraiser attended by 1,200 people. “This is political correctness run amok.”
Since conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said that he hoped that Obama would fail, Republicans have been pressed by Democrats and the media about Limbaugh’s comments.
Jindal, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, told the Republican audience he would “not be brow beaten on this, and I will not kowtow to their correctness.”
“My answer to the question is very simple: ‘Do you want the president to fail?’ It depends on what he is trying to do.”