This week saw RNC Chairman Michael Steele get mocked by liberals after
an appearance at the National Press Club, in which he came out strongly
against Obama's health reform initiative but admitted "I don't do
policy." Steele seemed to,
by some accounts, (though it's unfair to say for sure) demonstrate an
unfamiliarity with the concept of an individual mandate (a requirement
that individuals acquire health coverage), which has been a cornerstone
of the health debate since the Democratic primary, at least. We
also saw Obama personally accuse DeMint of empty political malice, as he responded to DeMint's comment that the GOP could
"break" Obama by blocking health care reform, making it the president's
"Waterloo." "This isn't about me," Obama declared, insinuating Republican pettiness.
So where was the GOP's wiz-kid of small-government policy, as these
accusations of vapid political posturing were being leveled?
Coincidentally, Bobby Jindal was undertaking a comeback tour of sourts
after months out of the limelight, following his poorly received
response to Obama's January address to Congress (which the White House
didn't call a "State of the Union"). Before that speech, Jindal was
touted as a top prospect for the GOP ticket in 2012--the rising star in the Republican Party; afterward, not as
Since then, his national-level appearances had been scant. He made an appearance on "Today" and another on "Good Morning America" as well as a couple other networks. But he had fallen off the national political radar, to an extent. As fellow Republican stars Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim
Pawlenty, Eric Cantor, Rick Perry, and Mark Sanford (pre-scandal) drew
attention by talking about national issues, Jindal tended to Louisiana business and forewent national media appearances entirely during the state's legislative session.
Eventually, people stopped talking about his prospects for 2012.
But Jindal returned this week to blast Democrats' health reform plans in an appearance on CNN, two more on Fox News, and in an op-ed for Politico Monday, as well as in today's WSJ piece. According to his office, more TV appearances are likely to follow in the coming days.
In all instances, Jindal has offered a slightly wonkier edge on health
reform than some of his Republican cohorts, like DeMint and Steele--though not wonkier than those who are in the dry weeds of policy themselves in Congress, like Sens. Judd Gregg and Chuck Grassley, who routinely field questions about the funding intricacies being negotiated.
Jindal has not been afraid to get into policy, statistics, and details.
On Fox's "Hannity," Jindal railed
against the expansion of government, as many conservatives do, while backing up his
talk by citing a Heritage Foundation projection that, under Democratic reforms, marginal tax rates
at the high-end of the income spectrum could climb higher than in European
countries. On CNN, he cited
Dartmouth statistics indicating higher Medicare spending doesn't necessarily improve quality of care, and he parsed the fundamental similarity between the terms "government-run health care"
and a "government-run insurance" deftly when John Roberts of "American Morning"
pressed him, bringing the discussion back to a study by the Lewin
Group on how many Americans would leave their private insurance coverage for the government plan, a study he references in today's op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.