Bobby Jindal faced off against an unusually hostile Larry King last night over the Steele-Limbaugh contretemps. King kept trying to stuff words into Jindal’s mouth, and Jindal politely but firmly kept spitting them back at King.  King insists that Republicans want the country to fail when it’s clear that not even Rush says that:

Here’s a relevant part of the transcript, which I edited for coherence:

KING: Governor, do you think people are thinking about capitalism now or are they thinking about problems?

JINDAL: Look, clearly, the American people are worried about paying their mortgages, keeping their jobs and paying their health care bills. I think Rush is a great leader for conservatives. I think he articulates what a lot of people are concerned about. And I think it is absolutely true that you can help people keep their jobs, help people afford their health care, help people afford their homes without abandoning the same conservative principles.  For example, Republicans offered ideas like aggressive tax credits to make homes more affordable so people can refinance, can stay in their homes. You’d see more demand for homes. They’ve offered ideas about — instead of nationalizing banks, why not modify the mark … to market rules? …

KING: Do you want him to fail?

JINDAL: I want the — I don’t want those policies to be adopted. I want my country to succeed, but I don’t want policies to be adopted that I think —

KING: But what if the… policies actually work?  What if they work?

JINDAL: This is where we have a fundamental disagreement. I don’t think it’s going work to borrow half a — to spend in excess of our revenues.  If you believed everything that the president — if you believed all of his projections, if you believe the economy starts growing again, you believe that we’re not going be spending all that money fighting overseas…if you believe that all of these temporary programs are truly temporary, he’s still projecting deficits of half a trillion dollars per year, under the best case scenario.  Larry, that’s just not sustainable. We cannot continue to do this as a country. China cannot become — continue to be our largest foreign holders of debt. This addiction to debt is what’s caused so many of our problems. The government is not going to be the answer to every problem.  I want my country to succeed. But what I worry about is that simply spending money on new programs — look at every new bailout. You know, you talked today, you know, about the auto bailouts. Then you had the fourth, I think it’s the fourth — it’s hard to keep track — the AIG bailout today. It seems like every time you turn around, there’s another trillion dollar trillion plan. … I’ve yet to hear a coherent exit plan.

KING: So you hope — you hope it doesn’t hurt?

JINDAL: No. I hope that failed policies don’t get adopted. I want my country to succeed. I want the economy to grow. I want — certainly I want the economy to grow again so people can afford their homes.  But I don’t want the Congress to adopt policies that would make the problem worse, not better. … I think it’s our — I think it’s our obligation as Americans when we don’t agree with a policy to speak up against it and to certainly offer different solutions.

First, no one is saying that they hope the country fails.  King equates country with Barack Obama in a weird way that suggests King has bought into the cult of personality, as though Obama has become King’s personal messiah.  We don’t want Obama’s policies to get adopted because we think they’re going to be disastrous, and so far, Wall Street agrees, since it’s lost 18% since Obama took office and shows no sign of recovery.  People have lost their retirement incomes and stored wealth in this crash, and Obama wants to take even more of it for his so-called stimulus plans.

Jindal explains this very clearly and concisely, and also manages not to throw anyone on the Right under a bus while doing so.  He negotiates the Rush-Steele mixup by supporting both men, attempting to keep together the larger Republican coalition rather than kissing up to the media by trashing allies.  That’s how a party leader should act on national television.

Also, did you notice that King’s microphone went hot a little too soon?  It sounds as though he’s muttering “Christ” when the show comes out of commercial break.