You must be wondering why Louisiana Governor “Bobby” Jindal was chosen to respond to President Obama’s speech to Congress. After all, it was John McCain who led the Republicans against Obama in the presidential campaign, and a man named Michael Steele is supposed to be the national chairman of the party. Yet it was Jindal’s reptilian countenance that we had to endure on our television screens last night.
The answer is nauseatingly simple: the ham-handed Republicans can never resist the temptation to play insulting PR games. They insist on believing they can fool all of the people all of the time. Jindal represents another effort to give the Republican Party a “diverse” face. In the recent presidential election, John McCain (and Sarah Palin) won only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote – compared to George W Bush’s 44 percent in 2004 – and less than 10 percent of the black vote. So the party has figured out it needs to attract more ethnic minorities. Using Steele, who is African-American, and Jindal, whose parents immigrated from India, they hope to conceal the fact that they are the party of old, white men. It’s the same kind of skin-deep thinking that made McCain choose the woefully unqualified Palin as his running mate. She was a woman, after all, and by picking a woman – any woman – McCain hoped to appeal to disenchanted Hillary Clinton supporters.
With Jindal (photo, far left) as their spokesman, the tone-deaf Republicans hoped to counter the diverse appeal of Barack Obama (photo, left). They think they have an only-in-America tale of their own: Jindal’s rise to become the first U.S. governor of Indian descent (Indian as from the Punjab, not Native American). Poor Bobby Jindal, son of immigrants who came to America to find a better life, etc., etc. Actually, Jindal’s mother was the daughter of a bank manager, and she came to America on a scholarship to study for a doctorate in nuclear physics at Louisiana State University. How poor is that?
But that’s not the only phony thing about this Jindal character. His name isn’t Bobby; it’s Piyush. He christened himself Bobby after his favorite character on The Brady Bunch. That’s quite different from Obama, who chose to use his real given name, Barack, instead of the nickname, Barry, which schoolmates wished on him.
The real Jindal is quite scary. Behind the simpering mask is a zealot who makes even Sarah Palin seem moderate. A devout Catholic, he supports the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools. (“Intelligent design” rejects the theory of evolution.) Naturally, Jindal voted against embryonic stem cell research. And the anti-abortion group, National Right to Life Committee, gives him a score of 100 percent on his voting record. He is also one of those rich people who believe the poor should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. They call it “fiscal conservatism.”
Needless to say, Jindal’s response to the President’s speech was a farce. He shamelessly tried to use the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., hypocritically professed a desire to work with President Obama, and then proceeded to oppose every initiative the president proposed. His dreary monotone and oily smile did little to ornament his presentation of tired, failed ideas.
If Jindal is the best the Republicans have to offer, the formerly Grand Old Party can say goodbye to any hope of regaining political power in America any time soon.