“We must stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. It’s time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. We’ve had enough of that.”
Those are the widely reported remarks of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in a speech last week to the Republican National Committee in Charlotte, North Carolina.
For Republicans, Jindal’s advice is sound. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to be heeded. It’s just too easy to be stupid.
Jindal is a case in point. The governor signed into law in 2008 a statute allowing local school boards to approve supplemental classroom materials specifically chosen as critiques of scientific theories. The measure is selective, referring specifically to scientific theories such as “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” (It’s an odd list: Human cloning is not a theory.)
The bill is a backdoor attempt, promulgated by the Discovery Institute, to introduce the teaching of “intelligent design” under the guise of “academic freedom.” Jindal, who majored in biology at Brown University, ignored a veto plea from his former genetics professor. Seventy-four Nobel laureates in the sciences have signed a letter urging the Louisiana legislature to repeal the law.
Jindal has given no evidence that he has become smart enough to urge repeal, and no doubt he had others in mind when he referred to “the stupid party,” especially those senatorial candidates, such as Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by their “offensive and bizarre” remarks on rape.
The Louisiana governor must also have been thinking of less-than-clever 2010 Republican senate candidates in Delaware, Colorado, and Nevada, all of whom had a shot at winning, and if they had, and if Akin and Mourdock had triumphed, there now would be a 50-50 split in the Senate.
Jindal also may have been musing on upcoming Senate races, worrying about Lindsey Graham in South Carolina and Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, reliably conservative incumbents facing possible challenges from the tea party right. And no doubt he had Georgia on the mind, since conservative Saxby Chambliss stepped aside rather than risk a right-wing challenge from Representative Paul Broun, who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and who has called evolution and the Big Bang theory “lies straight from the pit of hell.”
On the subject of Broun and stupidity, the Georgia legislator recently said, “I think the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution, not this one.” Someone should inform the congressman that the Soviet Union dissolved more than two decades ago.
Urgent calls from Bobby Jindal and others for the Republican Party to stop being “stupid” are not likely to be heeded as long as extremists dominate the primary process in conservative states, forcing the party to nominate candidates who cannot win in the general election.
As Forrest Gump learned from his mother, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
Posted January 29, 2013