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