Hey liberals: Conservatives don't have to be moderate to be smart

Now, one item that was not so good in Jindal’s portfolio was his health-care plan, which basically endorses every anti-Republican cliché: it would favor higher-income Americans more, and it would cause millions of people to lose their coverage. Given that there are much better conservative alternatives available, Jindal’s plan was a silly idea on the merits; but in any case, it’s an absolute political non-starter.

And when Ramesh Ponnuru, a reform conservative writer, said so, Jindal went off on a bizarre tangent. The problem with people like us, Jindal said, is that we’re just writing to gratify the liberal media elite. (Nope, that’s moderates, not us.) And the problem with people like Ponnuru is that he can’t imagine an Ivy League-educated man who’s also a real conservative. (Ponnuru went to Princeton and wrote a book on abortion titled The Party of Death.)

Jindal is absolutely right that there’s a stereotype that a smart conservative is a contradiction in terms. But by flailing around and acting dumb on this, he’s lending credence to exactly the idea he wants to fight, which is that his true conservative positions are just panders for the rubes, and ultimately, not sincere.