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The Tent Shrinks (Again)

By John Martin - Posted on 26 February 2009

Rush's Jindal denial will further alienate those who occasionally turn to him for guidance.  When our 1st, 2nd, or 3rd best hope for the future of the party comes off like a wet towel, we have an obligation to say so.  Yes, this is a humiliating period in the party's history, but who does it benefit to pretend that Jindal is exhibiting top-flight political chops when he's not?  Rush & Co. didn't speak out against Bush's excesses, and where did that get our party?  Bobby either needs to round out his resume with a little Reagan charisma, or stop teasing us now before 2012 gets any closer.

Thankfully, there seems to be a bit of a backlash against Rush's anger with Republicans who questioned Jindal's performance.  As Ross Douthat points out, "at this rate, pretty soon it'll just be Rush and his microphone."

Speaking about Rush and his microphone, John Derbyshire had a pretty good analysis of right wing radio in the latest issue of The American Conservative.  Here are my favorite paragraphs:

[B]y yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration, they [right-wing radio personalities] helped create the great debt bubble that has now burst so spectacularly. The big names, too, were all uncritical of the decade-long (at least) efforts to “build democracy” in no-account nations with politically primitive populations. Sean Hannity called the Iraq War a “massive success,” and in January 2008 deemed the U.S. economy “phenomenal.”

Much as their blind loyalty discredited the Right, perhaps the worst effect of Limbaugh et al. has been their draining away of political energy from what might have been a much more worthwhile project: the fostering of a middlebrow conservatism. There is nothing wrong with lowbrow conservatism. It’s energizing and fun. What’s wrong is the impression fixed in the minds of too many Americans that conservatism is always lowbrow, an impression our enemies gleefully reinforce when the opportunity arises. Thus a liberal like E.J. Dionne can write, “The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. … Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans.” Talk radio has contributed mightily to this development.

It does so by routinely descending into the ad hominem—Feminazis instead of feminism—and catering to reflex rather than thought. Where once conservatism had been about individualism, talk radio now rallies the mob. “Revolt against the masses?” asked Jeffrey Hart. “Limbaugh is the masses.”

Good write up John. I'm not even Republican and I feel your pain. I am outraged for the good people here and the country at what the Rush's and Hannity's are doing to us. It makes my skin crawl to think about how those guys continue to feed and get rich off of the ignorance of their listeners. They never hold themselves to any kind of factual standards. They also don't seem to care how badly they divide their listeners from ever seeing truths from the other side while completely shaping the minds of people who take everything they say as fact. They have to because if they were actually fair and honest they would lose the very listeners that employ them.

Jindal is a bright young politician. He is only 37, conservatives should relax. I´m sure he´ll grow. 

 I know Suzi thinks highly of him, so we´ll see if he can vindicate her faith in him. 

I hope that he can and will, Warsame.  I was very disappointed in his speech following Obama's address, but he redeemed himself a bit in my eyes by being a no-show at the CPAC meeting.

He is an awesome governor, and has made a lot of improvements in our state.  If he can remain true to himself, he will be a very viable candidate.  If he sells out to the hard right, he will be a huge disappointment.  Only time will tell.

I think Jindal is great.  Everything that I've heard about the guy has been positive.  I just think it's important to kee in mind what people look for in a President.  It's a lot different from what people look for in a CEO, a local official, or a governor.


The one thing holding me back from taking Jindal seriously is his fan/mentor symbiotic relationship with Rush.

He's smarter than that garbage, he needs to leave Rush behind and stake out his own unique political geist, instead of Reagan Deuce or wahtever label or crown Rush made for him.

As for him avoiding the CPAC, wouldn't a self-respecting person like yourself avoid a conference where Joe the Plumber is giving advice to Young Republicans?


<As for him avoiding the CPAC, wouldn't a self-respecting person like yourself avoid a conference where Joe the Plumber is giving advice to Young Republicans?>

You betcha!  *wink wink*   ;-)

Seriously, I agree with you, and that is what I meant by him being true to himself.  I get the feeling that he is courting the  far right base in order to become known outside of Louisiana.  But once you are connected to that image, it can be hard, if not impossible, to leave behind.  IF that is what he really believes, I would like to find out now instead of later, but it is hard to sort out right now.

I've said it before but anyone with ambitions in the Republican party is walking a tightrope right now. If they don't prove to be conservative enough or they exercise some bipartisanship, Rush will attack (I remember when McCain was targeted, I personally felt more respect for the guy-but that was McCain's old self...he finally gave in.) Even Steele seems to be indicating that RNC $$$ will go to those that behave themselves, remain in line.

 On the other hand, why are Jindal and even Palin avoiding this convention? They know the perception, the reality of the nutty message and extemists who will be there. Have you heard some of the workshop titles? They even have one called "Will Obama take away your guns?"

I don't know if I appaud Jindal for not attending. To me, if that's who you are and that's the conservative message you want to send (the content of his speech seemed to be all about less government, lower taxes) and you have some kind of real admiration for Rush, don't try to fool us by hiding from it. Just don't try to play both sides. Be true to yourself.

I think people like Crist are deciding to distance themselves from the extreme right wing and I think it will pay off.

I find it ironic that Rush, who claims to be Mr. Patriotic/freedom lover, would actually tell callers/politicians that he does not want to hear from them if they are critical of Jindal. And I feel bad for Jindal: does he really want the only guy defending him to be Rush Limbaugh? I was just shocked by his commentary (I know, I know-it's Rush so nothing should shock me!) I always think of the little green aleins with the three eyes from Toy Story following the commands of their leader Rush Limbaugh, without question. Rush is basically saying "don't think for yourselves, don't express your true opinions."

I see the GOP as it stands now sinking deeper and deeper into quicksand. But many of the leaders are in such denial and get so defensive.

I was saddened to see that some of the Fox shows like Hannity and O'Reilly have benefitted since the election with growing ratings (I think I saw an article at HuffPost yesterday.) Hopefully, it just means a small percentage are very dedicated to those extremists.

In the long run it isn't if or what meeting they attend. It's if they pull together and find a good strong voice an unite under some kind of understanding among themself's. If you don't go to meeting, How can you unite an find common ground an a voice for the party? Gov. Jandal now is a something of a confusions to me. It was hurtful to sit and watch him the other night. For some reason he felt he had to talk to us like we were children, and it sounded like he was telling a story. I felt bad for him, and for the party if they thought this young man was ready for the National stage! I think the party used him, like they did steele, and like steele , he wasn't seasoned enoughl. I don't think Jindal now is ignorant of the National scene, as I found Palin to be. Simply to young an inexperience to have been throwen out there at this time. I also don't think the party will stop doing this, because they don't know what to do, or what direction to go in at this time. It's just a sad time for the party is all we can say right now.
P.S. I just hope they didn't hurt Jindal chance's for the future by thier greed to capture center stage at all cost.
I'm trying to figure out why Jindal, and by proxy, the Republican Party, are against high-speed trains and other forms of mass transportation. Infrastructure is one thing the government is accountable for. Improving our infrastructure doesn't just create jobs, (construction, maintenence, operation) it makes us more efficient, and less dependent on airline travel and foreign oil. This libertarian utopia the Republicans have been living in since January 20th is a trite and hypocritical political game.
The issue, I'm guessing, is that (a) they don't want to pay for it (politicians tend to be wealthy), and (b) the very idea of a government-sponsored anything is anathema to the GOP's "free market" ideology-- it's why you saw a fair number of mercenaries (Blackwater) in Iraq until the civilian shooting got them in hot water. Whatever benefits a nationwide high-speed rail system may have are outweighed by the phrase "funded by tax dollars".

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Maybe it has to do with the roaring success of AMTRAK?

Maybe it has more to do with the idiots we keep putting at its helm?

If the myth of "government-sponsored rail will always fail" is true, then Japan Rail and other nationally-sponsored rail systems worldwide would be dead by now.


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black


Seems like the viability of government rail be heavily dependent upon the size and layout of the country as well as the mobility of the citizens and prevalence of other types of transportation.


Well, I live in a part of the country that once had light commuter rail, which was killed early on by those very friendly to the auto industry. Now Metrolink is just barely getting off the ground in comparison, and although the Pacific corridor is the most-traveled Amtrak rail net, its service is pathetic in these parts.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Is infrastructure supposed to be revenue/profit producing?   If so, how do you account for Interstate systems, roads and bridges, etc?

I was actually just being a wise-aker.

However I don't think AMTRAK is the same as general infrastructure such as bridges and highways.  Doesn't it for one run primarily on private freight tracks?

Yes, it does.   

I travel Amtrak alot (Detroit/Chicago) and when I asked how fast the train was going, the conductor told me:

"We lease the tracks from Conrail and they have an 80 MPH speed limit.   Their computer knows where this train is at every second along the route.  The Amtrak engine is capable of speeds over 100 MPH but we aren't allowed to go that fast.  So, to answer your question, the engineer pulls up to and holds at 79.5 MPH.  Any faster and we would get fined."

It's different on who owns the tracks.   On another Amtrak "flight" from Chicago to Texas I was on, the train gets on the Union Pacific main line where the tracks are really good.  They can  go hi-speed then 90+

There has been talk of a dedicated Amtrak hi-speed rail construction from Detroit/Chicago, but I don't know what the current status is on that project.

Currently, they are still using freight tracks for passenger trains in many areas.


I don't think of infrastructure as limited to such things as bridges and highways.  Infrastructure is the things that are necessary for a society and economy to function.  Therefore, private freight tracks are a part of that, as are power companies and grids, telecommunications, etc.  Some are public, some are private, but all are a needed part of our infrastructure.

Fair enough.

I just thinking of AMTRAK in terms of that it is a transportation alternative to buses, planes, cars etc.  Not 'essential' infrastructure such as bridges and roads.  Of course that is from my perspective of never having ridden/used AMTRAK.  My thoughts of its usefulness would definitely be much different than Nightwingers or someone else who uses this service frequently.

I have no problem with spending on this service if is a truly viable transportation alternative.  Some of the info on the high speed rail seems very interesting.  Just seems that it should be a demand from the 'customers' (and again perhaps it is and I am just woefully unaware ;) ) rather than a push.   Perhaps it will be a 'build it and they will come venture.'  

I've never ridden AMTRAK either, and think it's usefulness varies from one part of the country to another.  Down here, people use it for trips, but there is no commuter use of it, as Joe Biden used it.

I have taken a couple of short train trips back in the days before AMTRAK and found them very enjoyable.

AMTRAK trains are electric.

A modern GE turbo-electric engine achieves 400mpg per ton moved.    It is by far the most fuel-efficient mode of transit and shipping.

In terms of "demand," when the gas crunch hit last year AMTRAK usage jumped markedly and many trains were full to capacity.    Lots of folks liked it so much they stayed with the train even after the gas prices eased.

In terms of convenience, during my Chicago trips the train pulls into Union Station in the downtown Loop----just minutes from the hotel by cab.

Contrasted to airtravel----hours at the airport, taking off your shoes and having your undies patted down, getting luggage searched and X rayed and your name checked against "terrorist" records.    Then, still more time lost at the destination waiting for luggage to poop out the conveyor chute and still being an hour away from the city.

It's good to see the Iron Horse appreciated again.

Choo-Choo !!


Conceptually I agree that the term encompasses much more than just public-works projects.

BTW, I love Amtrak trips.   Many think it may be the last civilized means of interstate travel.

You can sit back, relax with a cocktail on your tray-table and watch Norman Rockwell's America roll majestically by out the huge windows.   Little farm kids still waive at the train as it moves through the countryside.

A silly romantic point of view perhaps.    But train-travel allows one to appreciate just how beautiful America truly is----something impossible to grasp from 30,000 feet up.




The problem with Amtrak is that except in the Northeast corridor, it would be cheaper for the government to just buy you a plane ticket.  

The subsidy that the government has to pay out per Amtrak passenger is more than the cost of buying everyone of those travelers a commercial airline ticket.

It may be a nice trip and great way to see America, but I don't think the government should be giving out vacation welfare. 

The government pays for highways Brandon.  It's really the same thing, if you think about it.  Mass transit has the potential to be a great way to save energy too.

Did you get 15 inches of snow?

I was waiting for someone to bring up snow. ( :

Some northerners will think i'm nuts, but we got a lot of snow in Georgia(By Georgia standards) and it's still snowing. I love it. I've been waiting all winter for snow. Usually Georgia gets that one chance every year for snow. My family is from the North but we've lived here since I was 2 years old. I'm staring out the window at the snow as a type. 

How much did you get?  As another southerner, I know the joy that a rare snowfall brings.  We got a very heavy (for us) snowfall in December (3-4 inches) and it was gorgeous.  We get that about every 20 years or so.  lol
I think the same, about 3 to 4 inches.

Highways are essential to the economy and defense of the nation.  Taking a passenger train from Los Angeles to Chicago is just not efficient. Rail transportation accounts for only 1 percent of intercity travel.  AMTRAK makes sense in the Boston to Washington dense Northeast corridor.  But for the rest of the country, it is just too slow and inconvenient.

I love the nostalgia of trains and the wonderful historic terminals and especially the music that railroad travel has inspired over the years.  Listening to the "City Of New Orleans" by Arlo Guthrie makes me want to take a train trip right now.  But the taxpayers shouldn't have to spend 1.3 billion dollars a year to subsidize people who want to take a scenic vacation and that essentially is all AMTRAK is.

 We only got 3 inches of snow at my house.  It is so beautiful.  Why can't it ever snow on Dec. 25 instead of March 1 when you are ready for Spring? maybe highways were a bad analogy. ;-)  But people still use them for vacations and personal travel.  The energy efficiency is still there though, and therefore could be a mode of travel looking to the future, instead of staying stuck in the same old mindset.  

I love old teminals too.   You have a great one near you in Chattanooga.   I love the station turned restaurant, and have stayed in one of the pullman cars that belonged to the Hilton.  That was fun.

I know what you mean about the snow.  We got ours a week before Christmas, and we were all saying the same thing.

After 9/11, the Bush administration spent billions to prop up the airlines facing bankrupcy (too important to fail, right?).   So why should AMTRAK be any different?   No one wants the USA to be the only industrialized country in the world without a passenger rail system.

And, BTW, a great many business people prefer the train precisely because it is convenient, so it's not just for scenic vacationers, although that's probably true for coast-to-coast trains.

Ever tried to park your car in Chicago?  Forget it.  Might as well mortgage your house for what they charge for parking.

Like having your crotch grabbed at the airport?   Just one of the modern indignities you pay for speed.   And, as if they are not hosing you enough by charging for water, coffee and snacks, at least one airline (Ryan Air I believe) is now talking about putting pay-toilets on their planes---a new concept for "pay-as-you-go."

No thanks.

As nostalgically goofy as it seems, I'll stay with my trains and travel with some degree of personal dignity left.


And if more people thought like that then maybe they wouldn't need to be subsidized, right?

Personally I'm against subsidizing planes, trains, or automobiles. 

Or rather, I'm not so much against subsidizing the building of trains and the infrastructure for that but then that investment should be able to be recouped by user fees, not necessarily from the general fund. 

"For those who plan with audacity and execute with vigor,
progress is the magnificent by product." 

<watch Norman Rockwell's America roll majestically by out the huge windows.   Little farm kids still waive at the train as it moves through the countryside.>

This makes me want to run out and buy a ticket right now!

I'm a Republican and I'm for Obama.  Bush got my vote both times, but he drove up the deficit and he didn't win the war against terrorism, even though he declared victory.  Sorry, guys, but I calls 'em as I sees 'em.  I listen to Rush, but much as he'd like to be, he ain't God on earth.  He didn't write no Gospel.  And he ain't infallible as no Pope.  I ain't no Ditto-head neither.  No, I didn't vote for McCain because he turned out to be a flip-flopper and I didn't vote for Palin because she couldn't speak no better'n me.  I want a VP who's smarter'n my dog and a Prez who's smarter'n me to fix this economy so's I kin go back to work and not lose my house.  That's all she wrote.
Remember that big meeting the GOP had after the election to figure out a message, a direction? That certainly did not help matters.

Indeed. I love Wikipedia! 

"For those who plan with audacity and execute with vigor,
progress is the magnificent by product." 

Oh my Gosh, I just read Jindal lied about being in the  office of the Sherriff at the time he was yelling down a official on the phone about takeing boat out to rescue people.  It may have not been so bad if he wasn't giveing a republican rebuttle to Obama's speech and it was a different time in history. But at this time in History when words count, and is being listened to closely----is the worse time to tell a out right lie to the american people. Sorry suzi, I know you really like jindal. I hope he doesn't fail under the weight of this.

No apology necessary, jupitor.  Although I stand my conviction that Jindal is a great governor for my state, I was sorely dissapointed in his speech.  It seemed to me that he parroted the same tired old party line.

As for the supposed lie, we are having a bit of a time figuring out the truth.  It seems that this started by something said by Keith Olberman and grew from there in the blogosphere.  Some of those blogs are having to be updated with a change in their story.  I have no idea what the truth is.   Click on this blue link to read the thread where we were discussing this. 

I think KO has a good sense of ethics (well, comparatively with Hannity, anyway)-- if he screwed up, he'll probably offer a retraction on his show.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Suzi, I didn't read it from the blogs. I read a story out of your state by some of the Sherriff's friends who were present at the time, and is discounting Jindals story.  I can't tell you the article/location because I ran onto it by accident and didn't take stock to write it down. I was doing some research on line on the state Gov. who were saying no to the stimulus and why. I don't know Jindal an wanted to know him better before I made up my mind. The speech was poorly done and written, and later heard him speak on another show and he didn't talk that way at that time.  This is just simply a inexperienced young man who needs to hang back out of sight untill he's ready for the big scene. I think the GOP used him, and I think that was wrong! It is all to sad, and as I said before that I hope this doesn't Dim his future chance's. But, I do think he need to remain in the back ground and out of the lime light, untill he has more experience. it is my understanding that jindal came after the conversation that the sherriff had on the phone, but wasn't present at the time, but was in another location. That the sherriff told jindal about the conversation, an than that was his response that if he had been their that this is what he would have said. Therefore, either jindal lied, or just so anxiouse about the speech he an got it all twisted around, is the explaination I later read. So I wasn't repeating a blog or a blog sight on this one. When I first started useing the computor, blog sights is all I knew to do. Now I can go to AnchorageNews in alaska to read about palin, and other home and national sights for local and national news from other states. Local news papers are the funnest, I found out. Like the Decatorjournal in Texas is our of Decatour,Tx and a smaller local paper. I'm learning ya see, an glad I don't have to rely on the blogs only now.

You're making a lot of progress on the computer, jupitor.  Good for you!  I remember when I was learning, and how challenging and interesting it all was.  I think we all still read something somewhere, and then can't remember how to get back to it. ;-)  

I referred to the blogosphere in explaination of how the story started and grew. I sent you to that link because I did some research on it, and it turns out that the accusation is pretty much unfounded, and I gave my sources for that in that thread.  Much ado about nothing, as they say.

But his speech is another matter.  I agree it was horrible, and that Jindal was used, and isn't ready for the national spotlight.  I strongly suspect that the national GOP dictated his words, or had final approval of the speech, which resulted in such a poor presentation.  I've heard too many speechs by him, and this is not his normal manner.  The thing that worries me the most is the possibility that Jindal will sell his soul to the far right to satisfy political ambition, as John McCain did.  Jinal is too brilliant and has too much to offer the future, for him to make that mistake.  If he does, he loses my support. 


Suzi, did you happen to read this article at HuffPo from an acting coach about why he thought the speech failed? 

I thought it was quite perceptive, and it's nice to see something like that at Huffpo.

I did read that, and also thought it was quite perceptive.  There's a lot to be said for remaining true to one's self.  I hope Bobby got that message from this disaster.  Time will tell.

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