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...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Somewhere Deep In Alaska A Woman Is Laughing

Governor Bobby Jindal gave the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, the first time each for both men.

There is a long tradition in both Parties that an up-and-coming politician is allowed to respond to the adminstration of the day, after such a speech. For example, then Governor Clinton responded after President Reagan, and Obama did it for Bush's final State of the Union, only last year.

Since the spotlight is on them, a priceless few minutes face-to-face with the remaining viewers left watching (but more importantly, with the journalists who will digest the rebuttal and come to conclusions about the person and the speech, influencing Americans' opinions of it later), this allows them to have A Star Is Born moment, if they are capable of delivering it.

Problem is, Bobby Jindal didn't deliver tonight.

By choosing him, though, were the GOP signalling that Bobby Jindal, and not Sarah Palin, is the presumptive front-runner in the Republican Presidential stakes? I think so.

Bobby Jindal, despite the need some people have to look at his skin colour and origins, is the archtypical kind of politician chosen to run on the Republican ticket (something neither McCain nor Palin could be said to be, for various reasons).

He is a serious family man, with undazzling personality but having rock steady ideals, who furthermore exudes professionalism. From Eisenhower on down, that has been the candidate template the Republicans tend to follow whenever possible, usually with unfathomable success for the opposition.

I think it's premature to count out Bobby Jindal because he had a disappointing outting last night. But the one thing that you cannot afford to be with such a partisan media who have long ago abandoned any pretense at neutrality (see post below), and are frankly cheering on their man, Barack Obama, is to be ridiculous in some way.

And when Jindal traipsed into camera view last night, it was almost as if a pimply-faced Student Government President was making his debut, courtesy of the AV department sophomores.

Geeky is one thing, though that's deadly enough in America, the land which invented "cool", but he and his advisors misjudged the importance of the speech by making him sound like an infomercial pitchman. That weird cadence he had was outrageously upbeat to the point of distraction.

He wasn't wearing a beanie, a pocket protector, nor was he wearing Bob Gates smudged up glasses, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if he did privately.

Here I would just like to point out that I mentioned these very traits to Sundries' readers, after the Republican Governor's Association conference in downtown Miami last November.

In the blogpost, Crashing Into Sarah Palin, I wrote this about Governor Jindal:

After a while, so as to draw attention away from my lolly-gagging around, I went to the Indigo restaurant downstairs. To my astonishment, as I sat near the bar, about 20 feet away, almost as if he were in a cubicle, there was I do believe Governor Bobby Jindal. He is much younger-looking than you can imagine. He looks like he's a college freshman, and actually, in profile looked bizarrely similar to a young JFK. He was utterly alone, and since I didn't want to stare, I am not sure if he was having a quiet moment to catch up with news, or if he were on his laptop or what.

What an ascetic air he has!

There is a problem with Jindal's chances to run for the Presidency in 2012, as I see it.

There are some people who give off a certain something (more on that in a bit). Jindal didn't at all give me that impression. He seemed utterly unmagnetic, and though not ordinary, perhaps I was expecting more. Frankly, he was nerdy-looking.

To become a genuine threat to run for the Presidency, especially given the adoration of his followers, and the presence that President-Elect Obama gives off (which is genuine, he truly is impressive up close), I believe you need to be a charismatic person. Jindal looks like a rather earnest priest.

I'll stand by my words after last night's response, especially the last sentence.

Look, it was ONE speech, and the Governor has three years to work on delivery, wardrobe, speech-writing, and all the rest.

But those who thought Jindal is the strongest Republican candidate in the early early handicapping for the 2012 race, should start backing off just a tad.

Full Text Of Governor Jindal's Response



  • "By choosing him, though, were the GOP signalling that Bobby Jindal, and not Sarah Palin, is the presumptive front-runner in the Republican Presidential stakes? I think so."


    Certain inside-the-beltway elements of the GOP were signaling that they'd prefer Jindal to be the frontrunner instead of Sarah.

    But the party electorate of "his turn" Dole and McCain isn't going to nominate a guy on his first national campaign. No chance.

    By Blogger JSU, at Wed Feb 25, 04:11:00 am GMT-5  

  • On the other hand, it occurs to me that as wrong as it is, the "Sarah's not the frontrunner" meme is very, very useful to her.

    Perhaps you're being cleverer than I am? ;)

    By Blogger JSU, at Wed Feb 25, 04:20:00 am GMT-5  

  • Well, JSU, I'm not sure about cleverer. :)

    I do know that I had a ready response to you about the CPAC meeting which she ditched. I forgot to post it then, but basically I thought that it was a wise move on her part.

    A) It was in the middle of the Rush Limbaugh v. Obama debacle, and I feared that his presence would make a weary public associate her with him.

    B) There is too much chatter (from vicious partisans, of course, but nevertheless it makes an impression) from Alaskans that she was busy galavanting around the US, and not paying attention to her duties as Governor.

    I suspect that the good people of Alaska who are not her fans, but also not her enemies, that they are not used to such a high-profile politician. Mostly it's been "Uncle Ted" and that yokelish Dan Young person at the forefront, with the Murkowskis thrown in for kicks.

    I think they want her to hunker down and be a Governor, before anything else in the short-term.

    Anyway, she has time. I think her strategy so far has been good.


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Feb 25, 05:22:00 am GMT-5  

  • CPAC wasn't weeks ago -- it's this week. Would have been perfect.

    There will always be anti-Palin memes no matter what she does. But blowing off the one part of the party machinery that actually supports her... That's dangerous.

    By Blogger JSU, at Wed Feb 25, 06:23:00 am GMT-5  

  • By choosing him, though, were the GOP signalling that Bobby Jindal, and not Sarah Palin, is the presumptive front-runner in the Republican Presidential stakes?

    I think it has more to do with flavor-of-the-month than any longterm planning. That is, Jindal is getting a lot of press right now so they toss him out there to give a major speech in order to see what the response is. I don't think its a sign of commitment.

    Don't worry, I'm sure Palin will be in the mix again and I still say Jindal has a serious religion problem. If the party is smart, they will stop calling him and ignore him even if he promises to take them to a nice restaurant and listen them talk about their feelings.

    By Anonymous Starless, at Wed Feb 25, 07:54:00 am GMT-5  

  • I understand what you're saying here Victoria. And I agree to a large extent. As real as reality is, it's still unfortunate that people who come across as nerdy or "not cool" don't do well in politics, even if they're rock solid people, as Jindal appears to be.

    Perhaps I'm too much of an idealist. But, heck. Someone has to be.

    By Blogger Robert, at Wed Feb 25, 05:48:00 pm GMT-5  

  • (I will take off my Democrat hat and put on my objective PoliSci hat)

    Jindal is definitely the name other than Palin that the Beltway GOP sees as ready to launch...whether he, or she, is eventually nominated is anyone's guess at this point.
    The Republican field at this point will depend largely on where Obama stands in 2011/12...
    If he's still popular, polling in the 60s, I think the field will be narrow. Jindal would be smart to wait in such a scenario but one never knows. When the GOP feels its an uphill battle they tend to go with an old guard establishment figure. In this scenario the only one I see is Newt, though others might bubble up.

    The thing about Jindal's speech was that he of course would initially be contrasted to Obama, and only the most blindly partisan would think he won the night against the President. The optics of his introduction were terrible: He's in his late thirties but he looks 17 and as he ambled in it looked like the president of the chess club had arrived, not the future of the Republican Party.
    His voice is high which if you have bad writing only makes things worse...Lincoln could pull it off because the writing was brilliant (oh and because there weren't 24/7 Television News feeds)
    The mea culpas about the Republican Party coming to power and losing their way in the draw of corruptive rule, to me, doesn't really make for a sound reason for a mulligan. But it's a first toe into the water.

    By Blogger ron st.amant, at Sat Feb 28, 12:26:00 am GMT-5  

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