In the wake of the Louisiana theater shooting on July 23, that state’s governor Bobby Jindal announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign. This came as a shock to many people who had (a) never heard of Bobby Jindal before and if they had (b) had no idea that he was even running for president. He must have resumed his campaign again since he participated in the Republican candidates forum on August 6 but nobody noticed that either.
I have not written much about Jindal but I felt that I should before he flames out of the race and becomes a footnote. In the latest poll released today, he does not even register. Apart from his policies, he cuts a somewhat ridiculous figure, with seemingly just two facial expressions, oscillating between a simpering Alfred E. Neuman and an angry Chihuahua. His persona starts grating on you quickly, even if his policies don’t.
Jindal is one of those hyper-patriots that I wrote about some time ago, people who are either immigrants or the children of immigrants who are so anxious to be accepted by white America that they become more American than Americans. In the case of Jindal, he truly went the extra mile, abandoning his given first name Piyush in favor of Bobby (chosen by him after one of The Brady Bunch children) and changing his religion from Hindu to Catholic. He said that people should stop referring to themselves as Indian-Americans or other hyphenated forms.
His patronizing lecturing to other Indian-Americans on how and why they should assimilate has created a backlash among them on Twitter where people are filling in the rest of the sentence Bobby Jindal is so white … with the hashtag #bobbyjindalissowhite. Examples so far:
#bobbyjindalissowhite that he mispronounces his own name.
#bobbyjindalissowhite that he couldn’t win a spelling bee if he tried
#bobbyjindalissowhite that he thinks ketchup is spicy
#bobbyjindalissowhite that he has to be washed separately in warm water
Even Hitler thinks that Jindal has gone too far in trying to be accepted and is reconsidering his support for him.
But those are minor compared to his embrace of all right wing and Christian fundamentalist religious tropes that are perceived as making one a real Merkin. In his zeal to show that he could cut taxes and funding for public services with the best of them, he has run the state of Louisiana into the ground, so much so that even conservatives like Rod Dreher have accused him of wrecking the state. Jeb Lund chronicles Jindal’s actions and says, “Jindal’s always veered between weird and wrong, when he isn’t both.”
In his efforts to be more right-wing than thou, he of course obstructed issuing same-sex marriage licenses in his state until the bitter end. He also called for the abolition of the US Supreme Court because of its decision to outlaw bans on same-sex marriage. He also promised to keep four confederate monuments in New Orleans over the objections of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council who wanted them removed. He promised to save them by invoking the state’s Heritage Act, except that it was later discovered that no such law existed, making him look ridiculous. And of course, he has vowed to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood in his state, though there too his mouth got ahead of his brain and he has been warned that he may run afoul of federal laws.
He has been attacking fellow Republican candidates for saying “extreme things, outlandish things” in order to gain publicity, even as others have noted that he seems to be running what is essentially a clickbait campaign in an effort to be noticed.
Jindal, who once famously advised the Republicans to stop being the “stupid party”, now seems to have embraced stupidity as his own strategy.
Even his video announcing his presidential campaign, with a camera perched up in a tree recording an awkward conversation he and his wife had with their three children about his decision to run, was so bizarre and slightly creepy with its hidden-camera eavesdropping vibe that The Daily Show ridiculed it and within hours the video became unavailable and disappeared from his website, where earlier it had been at the very top of the Web page announcing Jindal’s candidacy.
(This clip aired on June 25, 2015. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)
But we do not have to weep for the short political life of Bobby Jindal as an elected official. There is plenty of money in right wing circles to provide confortable sinecures for people of color who are willing to sign on to the right wing agenda and deliver morality lectures to other people of color. He can join his compatriot Dinesh D’Souza on the right wing talk show circuit as a comedy duo aimed at conservative audiences.