The thing is, I don't self-identify as a Democrat. I usually vote for them, but that's at least half because I've found the current generation of Republicans (especially at the national level) to be loathsome enough that they have to be kept out of power. I would actively like that to change -- I'd far rather have a Republican party that provides a genuine alternative worth considering, to act as a valid counterbalance when the Democrats get too full of themselves.
For about six months now, everyone has been putting Bobby Jindal forward as the future of the Republican Party: he's been referred to as "the Republican Obama" so many times I've lost count. He'd be the young, thoughtful and deep politician who would save the party from Sarah Palin. So I was rather looking forward to his rebuttal -- with a little trepidation, perhaps, because I was sure that I'd disagree with much of it, but I figured that it would contain some reasoned counter-arguments to move the debate forward.
Not so much.
What I got was More of the Same, to a degree that shocked me. I mean, yes, the party has a message. But seriously: this sounded just like the words of an identikit Republican Senator. In fact, after I closed my eyes, discounted the accent and simply thought about the words, the tone, and the body language, it sounded *exactly* like a John McCain stump speech.
Moreover, my hopes of a reasoned rebuttal were foiled. I didn't expect a *precise* rebuttal, since he would have had to be working from the advance notes rather than the speech itself. But I'd been expecting -- well, what I would have expected from Obama in that circumstance. A thoughtful dissection of the proposals, some specific cautions about the problems in them, respectful but firm in opposition. Instead, I heard a speech that really didn't address Obama's in any meaningful way: instead, it was nothing but anti-Democrat grandstanding, containing nothing but the same vague generalities that the Republicans parrot over and over and over again. Obama's speech has been mildly criticized as not having enough specifics, but Jindal's didn't say *anything*.
If Jindal has any independent personality, it sure as hell didn't show through. This was his moment -- his version of Obama's introduction at the Democratic Convention -- and IMO, he entirely blew it.
There are actually some interesting and smart conservatives among the pundits (I'm talking about the David Frums here, not Rush Limbaugh) -- people who I might disagree with, but I at least *respect*. But the number of Republican politicians I respect is now staggeringly low. It annoys me greatly that the only prominent Republican who I could even *consider* electing President is the one who's not eligible. (The Guvernator, who seems to be essentially the Republican version of Bill Clinton, a reliable panderer.)
My disappointment is palpable: my remaining hope of a flicker of intellectual depth among the Republicans has been extinguished. As an opposition party, they're looking pretty hopeless -- far from a meaningful alternative, they come across as a bunch of zombies, shambling around the political landscape going, "BRAAAINS", "TAAAAAAAX CUUUUUUTS", "GOVERNMENT BAAAAAAAD", "SPLEEEEEEEN"...