FRIST, JINDAL, THOMPSON DRAW SHORT STRAWS, ARE REQUIRED TO ACT LIKE MATURE, RATIONAL ADULTS
Via Time blogger Karen Tumulty, I see that a San Francisco Chronicle politics blogger, Carolyn Lochhead, thinks there's a surprising new trend in the GOP -- adult behavior:
Is this a pattern? Top Reps call for health care reform
What's going on here? Former Bush administration Health and Human Services secretary and Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson says today the Senate Finance health legislation should pass....
In a joint statement with former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, Thompson sounded like President Obama....
Last week, former Senate Republican leader Bill Frist, a heart surgeon, told several news outlets that he would vote for the health care bill....
[And] Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stepped up his calls for Republicans to join the health care debate.... Jindal says there's no way the Democratic bill can pass, but after Democrats give up on their "grand experiment," he says, "Republicans have to join the battle of ideas." ...
(Jindal of course, published a Washington Post op-ed this week enumerating GOP health-care ideas -- many of which are already in the Democrats' health care bill, but never mind.)
Now, all this is nice, but, as Time's Tumulty notes, none of these people are actual members of Congress, so it doesn't really matter what they think. But what is going on here?
Well, you know the way a party or a political campaign will sometimes send out a low-level loyalist -- say, a state party chair -- to launch a nasty, vicious attack that no major figure can launch without serious repercussions? I think this is that process in reverse.
See, if you're a politician in the modern GOP, you're pretty much required to be a barking lunatic, someone who'd rather lose an eye than give an inch to that fascist commie community-organizer terrorist guy in the White House. The base demands no less. Boss Limbaugh and Boss Beck demand no less. Even alleged moderates like Charles Grassley know enough to get with the program.
But the GOP knows that there's some value in kinda-sorta looking as if the party occasionally considers options other than scorched earth. A few mandarin pundits might be deeply impressed. So might some swing voters. And so someone in the party gets stuck with the onerous job of going out there and risking the wrath of the base by ... acting like an adult.
It's a terrible sacrifice to demand of any Republican. That's why most of the Republicans who've volunteered for the mission (Frist, Thompson, former Bush administration official Mark McClellan) are not presently holding any elected or appointed office.
But Jindal was willing to step up and take one for the team. Jindal was willing to pretend to be a grown-up. Jindal was willing to be the designated driver.
Clearly, he must not be running for president in 2012.