Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jumping on Jindal

Among other Change that Barack Obama advocates is a return to civility in American politics, but this week the media and the politicians who feed it failed to get the memo in piling on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for his rebuttal to the President's Congressional speech.

Ineffectual and lame (my word) as it was, the outpouring of invective over Jindal's effort has prompted both the New York Times and Washington Post today to treat it as an event in itself.

"Governor Jindal, Rising G.O.P. Star, Plummets After Speech" is the Times headline as Howard Kurtz in the Post asks, "How Bad Was Jindal?"

Nobody, except the Republican National Committee, asked the governor to expose himself by following the most gifted orator of our time, but there is a troubling undertone to the personal nature of the barrage of criticism and ridicule.

Chris Matthews, caught by an open mic muttering "Oh God" as Jindal appeared, is now covering his aspirating with the claim that his reaction was to the scene in the Governor's mansion, not over a dark-skinned young man looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

The Jindal-bashing has been bipartisan. "Conservative commentators," the Times notes, "were among the harshest critics, calling Mr. Jindal’s delivery animatronic, his prose 'cheesy' and his message--that federal spending is not the answer to the nation’s economic problems--uninspired."

Be that as it may, the Palinization of Bobby Jindal is both premature and unhealthy for the body politic. Wrong as he may be, Jindal is no airhead. On "Meet the Press" recently, the former Rhodes scholar came off as a serious man and, in the climate that Barack Obama is trying to recreate in American political discourse, dumping on him does not advance the cause.


Drama Queen said...

I suspect that, more than anything, it was Jindal's kindergarten-style tone and vocabulary that upset his fellow Republicans.

They've been treating Americans like simpletons for years. They just didn't want it to be quite so obvious to middle and working class red state America. So they have to excoriate otherwise standard Republican tactics and style only because he made way too obvious the contempt they harbor.

By their criticism of Jindal, they're attempting to display respect for the intelligence of their constituents. Once they feel Americans see Jindal as some kind of freakish aberration, then they can go right back to doing hourly and daily (with a more discerning-sounding tone and word choice) exactly what Jindal did the other night.

Time will only tell if Jindal can recover. If he figures out how to maintain some degree of personal integrity in the process of becoming a national figure we would all benefit.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that Jindal was a Rhodes Scholar, with an advanced degree in biology. But I've also heard that he is an ardent creationist, which seems more than a little contradictory. You're either on board with the scientific method, or you're not. There's no blur between the two mentalities. If any of this is true, then I question Jindal's ability to think critically. Also, his decision to deliver that GOP response was an unmitigated disaster. The country is in crisis and the President has just given a very important speech trying to uplift our spirits and generate some much needed optimism, yet Jindal and the Republican Party felt it was important to submarine the President and express a total lack of confidence in his policies. Less than smart. When you add Jindal's pedantic, obsequious delivery of that speech, it is difficult to conclude anything but the fact that he just isn't that bright and he is a tool of his party's ideologists. He has deserved every bit of criticism that he has gotten since he spoke.

Joe Hornbaker said...

Nobody forced Jindal to make the rebuttal. Presumably, he chose his staging and approved his speech. The fact that he came off looking like a dork is completely his own fault.

That the conservative establishment has been so harshly critical of Jindal is indicative of what they most care about: style over substance. Why else would they pick a person of color for the rebuttal? Why else would Jindal spend the first few minutes gushing over the fact that President Obama is, in fact, black? "How astonishing! How amazing! Now that I've caught onto the race thing, let's talk about tax cuts!"

Pathetic in every sense.