Bobby Jindal as “Multicultural Prince” for 2012

Via Andrew Sullivan, a smart quote from Ross Douthat regarding Bobby Jindal’s prospects for 2012:

If anything, I think the way the McCain campaign has finished up — and the way the media has covered it — works to Jindal’s advantage in 2012: Conservatives are going to be extremely eager to prove that they only hate Obama because he’s a radical, not because they’re racist, and what better way to demonstrate that than to nominate a dark-skinned conservative with a funny-sounding name? Indeed, much of the current affection for Jindal among movement conservatives – and especially in talk-radio land – can be traced to precisely such a yearning for a conservative Obama: A multicultural prince who channels Ronald Reagan, and whose nomination would at least reduce the taint of racism that clings to the American Right.(Ross Douthat, link)

Yes, that’s why I thought, many months ago, that Jindal would have made a good VP choice for McCain. (I expect it will come out, in months to come, that McCain specifically asked Jindal to join the ticket this past summer and Jindal turned him down.).

The above argument is in response to a point from Christopher Orr at The New Republic that I think many on the left (including our own Ennis) have agreed with:

Though rarely explicit (and certainly not exclusive) a large portion of the GOP’s closing argument this cycle has been to stoke white, working class fear and suspicion of the Other. The dark-skinned man with the foreign-sounding name may be a Muslim, or a socialist, or a friend of terrorists, or a racial huckster, or a fake U.S. citizen, or some other vague kind of “radical.” You may never be sure which he is (maybe all of the above), but in your gut you simply don’t “know” him the way you know the other candidates. This is not, to put it mildly, a message likely to benefit Bobby Jindal. (Christopher Orr, link)

For Douthat, by contrast, the attempt to “otherize” Obama is a combination of things, involving not just his skin color and name, but also his academic background, history as an urban community organizer, and membership in a liberation theology church:

I think this vastly, vastly overestimates the extent to which the attempt to “Otherize” Obama has been about race qua race (and racism qua racism), and vastly underestimates the extent to which it’s been about the way Obama’s name, ancestry and skin color have dovetailed with other aspects of his background – from his liberation-theology church to the academic-lefty and urban-machine milieu in which he spent much of his early political career – that the GOP would have tried to play up against any Democratic candidate (and especially in a year when the party didn’t have much else going for it). (Ross Douthat, link)

All in all, an interesting exchange.

I think it is certainly true that the GOP has been stoking up xenophobia (have you seen this?) through its attempt to smear Obama as “palling around with terrorists” (Rashid Khalidi being the latest smear), and with the whole “Who is the real Barack Obama?” line of thought.

But Douthat’s point of view — that this is merely a cynical, tactical attack, not based on fundamental beliefs amongst the leadership — gives me some hope that this will not become a chronic line of attack should Obama win the election next week.

67 thoughts on “Bobby Jindal as “Multicultural Prince” for 2012

  1. 48 · bess said

    ooh Shakespeare…pants are wet.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that the act known as “shake speare” precipitates wet pants.

    50 · Manju said

    Rahul 46. Quoting yourself. Commenturbation.

    I prefer to call it massage discipline.

  2. 51 · Rahul said

    I prefer to call it massage discipline.

    but surely you have disciples here who can give you a hand?

  3. 52 · Manju said

    but surely you have disciples here who can give you a hand?

    Or as they call it in the McCain campaign, a “whack job”.

  4. 53 · Rahul said

    Or as they call it in the McCain campaign, a “whack job”.

    hey nothing like a wahck job from a rogue diva, rahul. especially when you’re used to putting lipstick on a pig.

  5. I admittedly dont knwo much about louisiana politics, but i saw this interview and a couple of other speeches and was impressed. the man is articulate, his prose is edged with facts as opposed to fluff, he remembers the people around him (very important to remember they who voted him in! all the references to Louisiana for its arts education history and culture are not an accident). he would make a really good candidate for american presidency.

    i’ve also heard murmurs about his creationist beliefs – but that’s politics. i’ve been inside a political process and the way to win is to reflect popular opinion, without endorsing it. the messiah does it all the time – and i cant see him getting ribbed by Leno for having a parent with a sing-song diction.

  6. Piyush “Bobby” Jindal not a symbol of acceptance of difference in the American political field. He would have been had he, as Hindu Piyush Jindal, gone as far in the Republican party and in Louisiana as Catholic convert Hindu apostate “Bobby” Jindal.

    Barack Obama searched out his African roots and went from calling himself “Barry” to calling him Barack. He embraced his funny sounding name and his multicultural heritage. The church he attended was supportive of the black community and had a lot of information about Africa. Jesus in this church was a black man. Obama was always a Christian. Of course that does not stop the Republican party from depicting him as a terrorist sympathizing secret Muslim radical socialist and from rhyming his last name Obama with Osama. “Bobby” Jindal no doubt will be useful in the coming years as the Republican party’s token minority especially if Obama wins next week. He is even more ideal since “Bobby” is a convert thus a minority who has seen how false his religion of birth is and who sees the superiority of their faith. “Bobby” is the ideal minority in the Republican party. Perhaps he will inspire other South Asians to follow his example.

    “”None of his Indian-American supporters seem to have read his plans for governing the state of Louisiana. None of the Indian-American newspapers have bothered to analyze his politics. No one seems to care as long as “one of our own” gets elected to office. That no one has asked of his affiliation to the Republican Party when in Louisiana it is mostly Democrats who have been elected governor is yet another conundrum. His conservative agenda and his conversion to Catholicism seems to indicate that the 18 year-old Jindal knew well that that was the only way, as an Indian-American Hindu he could achieve his political ambitions.

    But the question to ask is simply this: Is he one of our own? By what measure? Just because he was born to Indian parents? Does he reflect any of the Indian-American values? If so, how? Many first generation Indian-Americans are socially conservative when it comes to marriage and dating. But is the second generation similarly inclined? Some may even join hands with him to castigate Hollywood for exploiting sex and violence. But will they join hands to promulgate conceal and carry laws? Will they join with him to proclaim that homosexuality is unnatural? Are they willing to let only him and his fellow Catholics to go to Heaven, while they stand and wonder why they got left behind? Are they willing to force their daughters or sisters or wives to have babies they don’t want?…”

    …As Dr. Rao notes, in recent years, the Republican Party has not been entirely supportive of religious diversity, religious tolerance, and immigration, issues that are important to Indian-Americans. This is why he believes it is necessary to question Mr. Jindal.

    Again, the issue is not merely about Mr. Jindal’s faith; it is about his struggle with identity, and as evidenced by his campaign’s rapid denouncement of anyone who would “question” Mr. Jindal’s own published writings, the struggle is still on-going.”

  7. would be an All-American type if he had played footbal and acquired a trophy blonde wife.

    wouldn’t we all?

  8. Why do people assume Jindal would accept being at the bottom of a Palin/Jindal ticket? She does not have anywhere near his academic or business experience. Additionally, he would not accept the lower position of Assistant to the head of the Louisiana University system. He is not the type to take second place, especially not to Palin.

  9. The way they otherized Obama is mind boggling – here is a popular right wing blog that manages to stick to black Americans and Arabs and Muslims while this so called reporter tries to tear down Obama:

    Luckily there are some people out there who take on jerks like Lamb:

    The Little Lie and How It Grew

  10. FYI – now here is the kicker, see the last sentence and remember that when you read Lamb’s breakdown of Obama’s ethnic heritage (my guess is he did not know which race Arabs fall under in the US):

    In the US here are the four race categories (directive 15) promulgated in 1978 by the OMB:

         " * American Indian/Alaska Native: this category includes indigenous north American groups, and despite genetic similarity, remains distinct from indigenous persons from central and south America because of certain land and treaty obligations;
          * Asian or Pacific Islander: this category originally covered persons with origins in countries East of the Indian subcontinent, but was adjusted after the Association of Indians in America lobbied the OMB to move their group out of the white race category;
          * Black: persons with origins in the black racial groups of Africa- this category purposely does not encompass continental Africa to distinguish North African regions and European settler populations; and
          * White: persons originating in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa"
  11. They always have to Piyush “Bobby” Jindal not a symbol of acceptance of difference in the American political field. He would have been had he, as Hindu Piyush Jindal, gone as far in the Republican party and in Louisiana as Catholic convert Hindu apostate “Bobby” Jindal.

    That pretty much sums it up for me. I hope the 3rd and 4th gen. Desis don’t become like Piyush. He’s no Barack, that’s for sure.

  12. Since he was from Punjab, I wonder why he didn’t consider the most Egalitarian religion of all: Sikhism.

    Oh that’s right he would have stood out and been different. Probably would have needed a real backbone not like the kind he possess today. Well that’s how it is when you want to be rich and famous, just ask Ramesh Ponnuru.

  13. Josef,

    Well you’ve got a point. What if he became a Buddhist, followed Kabalah, Rastafarian or Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, etc. etc. No way would he have achieved the type of success he had without becoming what he is. He is much more cunning than he appears.

  14. Indeed, much of the current affection for Jindal among movement conservatives – and especially in talk-radio land – can be traced to precisely such a yearning for a conservative Obama: A multicultural prince who channels Ronald Reagan, and whose nomination would at least reduce the taint of racism that clings to the American Right.

    As this statement makes explicit, meritocracy is often not even an afterthought of the republican party – and actually a fervent anti-meritocracy might be in operation seeing how Bush, Palin et al were welcomed, so maybe Jindal making a royal mess of Louisiana will only strengthen his case for 2012.

    Severance taxes, mostly from oil and gas, made up just over 8 percent of state tax revenue in 2007, according to Census Bureau data, much less than Alaska’s 64 percent, but higher than Texas’ 6.9 percent. The total take, including royalties and leases from oil, gas and other resources, accounts for just under 17 percent of the Louisiana budget. But while the leading good-government group here, citing that addiction, warned last May against the Legislature’s plan for a $360 million income tax cut, Mr. Jindal called the tax break “terrific news” and happily signed it into law as legislators cheered. Admonitions on fiscal prudence went unheeded, as they have so often here, and the bill is now due. Earlier this year there was an $865 million surplus; now Louisiana has a $341 million shortfall in its current-year budget, and next year the projected deficit is $2 billion.
    Mr. Jindal entered office this year with the happy duty of spending a $1 billion surplus — and he and the legislators promptly did so, appropriating millions of dollars for highways, ports and a medical research facility, and widely dispensing tax breaks, including one to parents of private school students.
    Mr. Brandt, of the public affairs council, said cutting education would only increase migration from the state. Louisiana, he said. has “gotten by with these resources others don’t have.” “We’ve not made the decisions we need to,” he said, “to get us out of the high-poverty, low-education cycle.”
  15. A Jindal run in 2012 could see Palin challenging him, but this could work to Obama’s advantage as they would implode the conservative base through which they would split the vote between one another and get a less conservative and more moderate politician like Romney or Huckabee nominated, even though there’s nothing wrong with them as individual politicians in their own right. Remember the Sith code when Master Yoda recited it in Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace: “A master and an apprentice: no more, no less.”? Well, the GOP needs to follow the Sith manner of things, not that they should ever be called or compared to Sith Lords, and have only one candidate to the very conservative wing and no more than that. This would work best for the GOP in a way like that of Romney conceding like he did before the race ended last year to help McCain win that nomination.