Paul Krugman, on his blog, obliquely meditates on the "epidemic of open-mindedness" that David Brooks suggests is sweeping the Republican asylum. So far, writes Krugman, only the raging pathogens can be confirmed. The open and exemplary mind of Bobby Jindal, for instance, "has just published an op-ed on the cliff that sure looks as if he has no idea whatsoever what the cliff is about." And this smoothly leads us to "wonder even more about the state of mind that induces you to write an op-ed about a subject you don’t comprehend at all."
"Fevered" comes to mind, even if trite. Desperately fevered, understandably fevered, and possibly even terminally fevered. The GOP's Jindals are not laboring mightily to force a populist smiley face into their procrustean bed of a grim, discredited ideology--but to keep it there. Republicans have for decades wooed the Everyman into believing that playtime for plutocrats and garroted government are key to the little guy's success. Yet catastrophically contrary empirical evidence has begun--undeniably--to mount. And the natives are fleeing.
That is what Jindal does comprehend. His fundamental problem likely isn't a lack of comprehension, but an irreconcilable surplus--a political allegiance to Gilded economic theory mixed with a reinforced awareness of Keynesianism's pragmatic superiority trapped intellectually in the wretched inconvenience of ideological pieties that Must Not Be Questioned. That's quite a bind.
It's also why Brooks must artificially swoon over what amounts to nothing but platitudinous mediocrities as recently imparted by Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio at the Jack Kemp Foundation's Leadership Award dinner. Here, for instance, from Rubio, is what Brooks claims is an inspirational germ of "open-mindedness":
It all starts with our people. In the kitchens of our hotels. In the landscaping crews that work in our neighborhoods. In the late-night janitorial shifts that clean our offices. There you will find the dreams America was built on. There you will find the promise of tomorrow. Their journey is our nation’s destiny. And if they can give their children what our parents gave us, the 21st-century America will be the single greatest nation that man has ever known.
Then, from Brooks, comes this spectacular bathos: "People at the dinner say that there was a hushed silence for a second as Rubio concluded with this refrain. Then a roaring ovation swelled and filled the room."
Yep, that's an epidemic all right; a collective delusion that something at least marginally divergent if not profoundly innovative has been uttered, when in reality it's nothing but the same old useless pieties--populistically dressed.