The damnedest thing about all of this is that Jindal is a really smart man. He had some good things to say in the speech — for example, I like his nod towards economic populism. But he took an opportunity to lay out a credible critique of Republican failings in that area, and ways the party could reform itself to be less beholden to Wall Street and more responsive to Main Street, and blew it on endless eructations of anti-government gaseousness.

He’s right that statism and centralization is a problem for the entire country. But he’s ignoring the fact that the Republicans have done little real work to roll back the state, and he’s also ignoring the fact that the state sometimes has to intervene to protect people from depredations of the private sector. How did rolling back banking regulations in the late 1990s — a project led by the Clinton Administration, and joined by the GOP — do for the economy? How did that help Main Street?

Where’s the intelligence, where’s the vision, where’s the boldness and leadership? Or is the case that the Republican Party still can’t face reality? He’s right that statism is a serious problem, though it would have been useful to hear a conservative talk about how the capture of government by powerful financial interests is bad for the common good. Why is this so hard?