Commentary Magazine


Jindal v. Palin

Greta van Susteren interviewed Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday–here’s the link. If you compare Jindal’s interview with Governor Sarah Palin, it’s quite a contrast, particularly when it comes to command of the issues and the ability to articulate their case and the conservative cause. Governor Jindal comes across, I think, very well, which doesn’t surprise those of us who were colleagues of his.

Sarah Palin is another matter. While I think she was treated unfairly — and at times viciously — by some during the campaign, and the post-election trashing of her by unnamed McCain aides was ugly and stupid, one of the first tasks of the GOP is to become what Daniel Patrick Moynihan labeled it in 1980: the party of ideas.

Having watched Governor Palin interviewed several times now, including several times since the election, I think it’s fair to say that whatever talent she has — and she possesses some real political talent and the capacity to strongly connect with Republican voters — her capacity to articulate conservatism and the specifics of policy is not among them. At least not now. At least in my estimation.

That doesn’t mean she should be ridiculed or marginalized or dismissed. She is, after all, the most popular governor in America. But because she is hated by some on the Left doesn’t mean she’s the answer to what ails the conservative movement.

A week and two days after the election, my sense is the GOP needs what Bobby Jindal and a few others possess: a first-rate mind, a command of the issues, and the capacity to present them in a confident and appealing manner.

No one, of course, is going to anoint the next leader of the GOP. That will be determined over time, based on performance and appeal, and eventually, on votes. But one thing is for sure. If the Republican party is going to become politically dominant again, it needs to extend its reach to those who have left the fold. I’m not at all confident Sarah Palin can do that. But time will tell, and I may yet be proven wrong.

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