Hardball | November 13, 2012
>>> welcome back to "hardball." so now they tell us. republicans are becoming brutally honest in the wake of their defeat last week. so the party that spent much of the campaign telling us that evolution is a lie, global warming a hoax, tax cuts pay for themselves, and pollsters were conspiring against the winning romney campaign, is now apparently making an effort to join the reality-based community. the latest, louisiana governor bobby jindal who told politico it's time for republicans to, quote, stop being the stupid party. sounds promising until you remember he signed into law a measure that allows for teaching creationism in public schools . with me are two msnbc political hot shots, howard fineman is "the huffington post " boss and john heilemann with new york magazine. both great guys and brilliant. let me ask you about this republican party . someone once said in the communist world, the road to damascus is very crowded these days. there are a lot of what do you call them, a lot of converts out there. i was thinking howard in a nonreligious, in a secular sense, boy, are there a lot of them coming out. kristol is out there, some of the really smart guys are saying we blew it, let's think.
>> yes. well, some people like david brooks and bill kristol who are thoughtful conservatives, but they kind of suspended their disbelief i think during the last days and weeks of the campaign. they were all on board with romney . they were all saying the polls were going to be wrong and romney was going to get it and romney was on the right track and romney had the right ideas, et cetera , et cetera . they're to be expected to be among the early changers, among the early people on the road to damascus because they've got one foot in politics and the other in journalism. but i think jindal is interesting. i think the real fight now, chris, is not whether people are getting on the rooted. it's what they're saying on the road because they have different theories about how to go forward. one is economics, one is cultural, and one is immigration. i think there are basically three routes there.
>> i wonder whether they're all agreeing to changes in their party philosophy that don't affect their central beliefs. let's take a look at jindal who is a cultural conservative . he's acknowledging the republicans must not be the party of 1%. quote, we've got to make sure that we're not the party of big business , big banks, big wall street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything. we cannot be. we must not be the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys. now, that's a good southern populist statement by a southern conservative bobby jindal , john heilemann, but you will notice he doesn't give an inch on the cultural stuff like we've got to teach creationism in our public schools . his idea of compromise, stay out there on the far right on the cultural stuff, i'm sure abortion rights and same-sex, but move in on the rich guy stuff.
>> well, yeah. look, i mean, i'm not sure we've got yet a comprehensive statement from bobby jindal about what he think modernization and reform of the republican party would look like. you put your finger right on the button. there is going to be a place in the republican party for an outsider who is going to be not washington figures, particularly those who come from places where the republican party is still strong, people in the south, so you think about people like jeb bush , people like bobby jindal who will bring a message of reform, and it's not surprising on some level that the economics will be central. there's a big strain of southern populist conservatism. he's a harvard educate policy wonk on things like health care reform . he's an interesting marriage. he's not that different in that respect in this mix of southern elite schooling and populist instincts to bill clinton back when he brought his project of southern populist moderation to the democratic project back in 1989 , 1990 , 1991 . so there's a road map here and bob ji jindal i think is the first one to jump on it but he won't be the last.
>> but the thing is though --
>> i go add had.
>> the thing is that jindal is sticking with the cultural conservatism . he's a brown educated guy with a rhodes scholarship but he's for teaching creationism in school. a big part of the tea party thing has been resistance to opening the doors on immigration. that's something he's not dealing with at this point.
>> i wonder how many immigrant families that come to the united states and want their kids to be doctors really want them to study this creationism as premed. do they want them to take organic chemistry or this other thing, this religious thing, john heilemann? are they serious? do they really want the doctors they go to not to believe in science? it's one thing to believe in your religion, which i do, but to go transfer some biblical scripture into science and try to use it for a different purpose than it was meant. it's meant for spiritual and moral leadership, not meant for scientific inquiry . for them to keep doing this like he does and claiming he's going to lead the country into the 21st -- through the 21st century ? i think that's kind of not smart or dopey thinking. what downey? how can you claim to be a reformist and talk about creationism.
>> i'm not sure that bobby jindal is talking about creationism very much in the stants he made to politico.
>> he hasn't stopped.
>> he hasn't stopped yet. again, this is very early days . i'm not trying to make excuses for him. i think -- in any way. i'm pro-science, i think we should be proud if you're going to be a credible reformer in the republican party you will need to embrace the reality of things like climate change . there's no question about that. but, you know, i think there is going to be -- this is where some of the cleavages will come among various strains of reformism. howard pointed to one, the question of immigration. some like jeb bush will be on the liberal side of creationism. because bobby jindal is a minority, he almost visually carries an inclusiveness that some of the other more white, standard brand caucasian republicans don't carry. he can probably get away with more conservative on the immigration front but there are these strains been the parties that all these guys will be trying to figure out how to work around. and a guy by bobby gin cal, health care policy is his specialty, he's a guy of science. right now at least so far he's not going all the way there on the question of cultural --
>> here he is this summer, the slate wrote about the louisiana science education act of 2008 and its implications by saying the act allows so-called supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to be brought into classrooms to support the open and objective discussion of certain scientific theories including, of course, evolution. as educators who have heard such coded language before quickly realizeed, the act was intended to promote creationism as science. it seems to me that everybody understanding -- my dad, who was a republican, used to say the big problem with the republican party from his point of view is it only cared about the big, rich corporations. he loved all the other stuff, self reliance , and low taxes and leave me alone . it seems they do all agree defending the 1% was their worst mistake from the smart guys like kristol to all of them, jindal , they all agree on that.
>> that's one of the major puzzles and challenges for the republican party now as it was a generation ago. ronald reagan in part with the help of jack kemp , a generation ago, found a way to sell supply side economics as a blue collar alternative. to sell it to the common man. that's what reagan and kemp were all about. the republicans lost the ability to do that. they lost the argument once. they're going to have to figure out how to make that argument again because if they're going to say that unleashing the power of the free market is the route forward for the middle class and the working people of america, they need convincing arguments and convincing people to do it. mitt romney , if you look at it from even the slightest distance, was arguably the worst possible carrier of that message. they need somebody else. they need to southern populism or populism from somewhere, but they also need the proof. they need the evidence. and lacking the evidence last time in the election of a week ago, a week or two ago, people went with the -- what they knew, which was the president's belief in the power of government to work well with the economy.
>> i think they realized during the campaign thanks to some extent to the advertising we have done on this show and others, they understand that the koch brothers exist and they didn't feel they were in the same tax bracket as those characters. if they're up to something with the tax brackets maybe it's not in my interest and may families. i want this to