The GOP to Piyush back against Obama

This ain’t yo daddy’s GOP no more. Not only is the Chair of the RNC a black man (Michael Steele, who owes his victory to the majority-minority terroritories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa) but Jindal is the new televised face of the party, set to issue its rebuttal to Obama:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, widely seen as a potential 2012 GOP presidential contender, will deliver the Republican response following President Obama’s nationally televised Address to the Nation on Feb. 24, Republican congressional leaders announced in a joint statement today. [Link]

Has the GOP decided to embrace multiculturalism as a demographic necessity? Was 2008 the last year that contenders for the top RNC spot will send out CDs of such chart topping hits as “Barack the Magic Negro,” and “The Star Spanglish Banner“?

Not exactly. Nativists remain both a significant constituency within the party and a significant source of amusement for those of us outside of it, offering insights like:

“Diversity can be good in moderation — if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers — as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.” [Link]

Despite their persistence, the nativists are unlikely to be a significant stumbling point for Jindal. Although he’s got a bit of a tan, he’s assimilationist’s wet dream, an all American guy named Bobby, whose youngest child is named “Slade Ryan” (no joke).

More importantly, he’s exactly what the rest of the party is looking for: a governor, a social and fiscal conservative, a staunch Christian, and somebody who claims to stand for increased transparency (except for his office, which is exempt). He has Palin’s virtues — he’s a young, conservative, state level politician — but he’s also articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, a storybook candidate.

Lastly, it doesn’t hurt that the party is desperate, with just five red states left, all of which are low population. At this point, they’re willing to try something new, especially if it’s old wine in a new bottle. Whether Steele and Jindal represent long term change in the party’s thinking, or just drunken college experimentation, will depend on how well they take advantage of this opportunity.

133 thoughts on “The GOP to Piyush back against Obama

  1. 97 · Floridian said

    in which case Slade would be a way better choice than Rahul? Right, Rahul?

    Floridian, I wouldn’t be able to ingratiate myself to anybody if my name was Apple Pie Smalltowner. (It is fairly obvious that politicians’ lifestyle choices are relevant to how the public relates to them. I am just amazed that after all that Obama was interrogated needlessly about personal choices, the same games are being played with Jindal. Does anybody remember the Madia post where his opponent asked the public to look askance at Madia’s decision to – insert scare music here – rent! Surely, there’s value to improving the level of discourse, rather than perpetuate the same old stuff?)

    P.S: Did your daughter ever call (and not text!) over her Christmas break?

  2. #99 Ennis said:

    Here’s an earlier post on how employers discriminate against minorities based on their names. It’s a neat experiment since the resumes they sent were identical except for the names on top, controlling for most confounding factors.

    But of course! Those of us who work with other well-educated, culturally aware people tend to forget that culture is a highly divisive factor in the lower socioeconomic strata of society, where many recent desi immigrants are ending up these days. I remember how uniformly grad-school-to-profession my generation of immigrants was. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.

    Okay, here is a question. The early immigrants from Europe shed their “strange” names long ago. Do you foresee South Asians eventually succumbing to a far more widespread anglicizing of their names as more of them take up non-professional, lower income jobs where assimilation is almost necessary? Secondly, how about the ABD factor? Our ABD kids are far more comfortable with “American” names. Wouldn’t they find it just as easy to name their offsprings Bobby instead of Piyush? A hundred years from now, what percentage of the second, third and fourth generation South Asians would still have their original names?

  3. P.S: Did your daughter ever call (and not text!) over her Christmas break?

    Nope! Right now the ABD daughter is defying the commands of this parental unit (I feel like Dan Aykroyd in The Coneheads) and dancing in the family room with a dozen other similarly crazed teenagers. My 83 year old dad wants to know if this particular type of music was especially written for this age group. I reminded him of the type of music we listened to that drove him just as much nuts back in the sixties – “Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe.” The poor guy is having deja vu all over again.

    Thanks for asking about my daughter, Rahul.

  4. Was 2008 the last year that contenders for the top RNC spot will send out CDs of such chart topping hits as “Barack the Magic Negro,”

    The irony of this post, Ennis, is that you called out the republicans for calling Obama a “Magic Negro” while simultaneously calling Jindal essentially that. perhaps you didn’t know what a Magic Negro is or perhaps you think Jindal’s is in fact one while Obama is not, but I’m wondering: how do you justify this?

  5. “How in the world a man with such an incredibly exotic name, with a middle name that practically means 9/11 to many Americans, could win the presidential race is beyond me. What a country!” Ah. We can’t take all the credit. That whole sound and light show was an international effort, believe me. In addition to well-honed rhetorical skills, more money than was spent for all previous presidential elections put together, crashing rock concerts in Berlin making it look like they all came just for you, and not to mention near unanimous major press backing, all went to helping him along. I knew he’d be where he is now, 3 years ago when articles popped up out of nowhere in Newsweek and such. The decision had been made. Next stop, Bilderberger meeting. Reagan was a Teflon prsident because the press allowed it. Obama was the Teflon candidate. He does have a genuine following but frenzied fancy is a fragile thing. In “Being There”, the whole story was told 40 years ago. With the right by-lines and backing, ANYBODY can be president. They could run Britney Spears, Bernie Madoff, Arnie Schwarzenegger, Cheech and Chong, Queen Latifa, definitely Oprah, and any one of them could win the White House. Really. I’ll bet they could run Putin if he jumped ship. Make him an honorary Amurikan. All it takes is total press backing and trillions of dollars, ignored laws of vetting and they’d be in the White House. Years before JFK ran, his father said they would package him like corn flakes and make him a winner. That’s how its been done ever since.

    Jindal? I actually don’t think his race is an issue in his case. Not anymore. What is this “sell out” crap? What exactly do you want him to do as an elected official in the State he’s in? If I live in India and plan to live there, raise kids there, be a good citizen, run for office–well, I’d probably name them something like–Krishnamurti or Kali Kelly, or Zubin, or little Jawahalal, depending on where I was planting my roots. Perhaps I would be indicted for child abuse, but I would mean well. What’s an issue is: he’s too religous. Too Christian–media no like. And an odd sort. Catholics are not noted for creationism. I was Catholic and clergy used to tell us that there was no contradiction between evolution and Catholicism, and that was decades ago. Too seeking of working peoples’ votes. As for his kids’ names, at least you can spell them easily, which is not true of all stupid names people would love to laugh at it were politically correct. By 2016, he’d be a sure winner if he’d stayed Hindu and became a Democrat. Republicans have tried wooing non-whites. it doesn’t work. Non-whites don’t vote Republican en mass. I am not sure how long the Dems will retain a lot of whites. Depends on what’s in it for them. It’d be sad to have parties split by race, but it’s going that way. I worked with USAID and thought it was such a joke for the US to be in various “developing democracies” organizing political parties and preaching about not letting personal or ethnic considerations influence the process. Physician, heal thyself. The whole party system stinks frankly. It is divisive and lines people up under ridiculous and ofen irrelevant banners.

    I am working on a new sure-fire justice-for-all system and will unveil it shortly.

  6. The GOP to Piyush back against Obama

    Except that “Piyush back” is still to enter the media-parlance, anything “against Obama” is an easy news-maker.

  7. Ennis,

    Ah, but it is politically relevant in terms of whether he is accepted by the broader population of this country. I don’t think the average voter feels the way you do. They’re not as willing to vote for non-Christians as they are Christians. They’re also not as willing to vote for candidates with names they’ve never heard of

    .

    While I agree on the Christians vs. Non-Christians part, but the later has been proven false as the country just elected a funny and foreign named President, Barak Hussein Obama. Considering how much baggage his middle name holds, he still won the election (and all the nastiness was documented along the way).

    If we’re talking about the reaction of the party leadership and rank and file to a candidate, then his name and religion are very relevant to understanding what’s going on.

    His policies and value system is far more indicative of where he stands, not his superficial aspects. Bobby Jindal didn’t drop his last name either. Nor is Bobby a foreign name in subcontinent, it’s a pretty neutral universal name or pet name.

    Or do you think that if Jindal had exactly the same beliefs and track record, but was a turbanned, bearded, Sikh named Bhupinder Singh, that people would receive him in exactly the same way?

    Maybe, maybe not. It depends how well the candidate can use good strategy to circumvent his “perceived” handicaps (like Obama did). You’re using extremes to argue a point. I also think your post is displaying some solipsism. Your personal experiences as a Sikh are very valid and real, but using the turbaned/bearded argument to point out why Bobby Jindal is a “nativists/assimilationist” wet dream doesn’t cut it. A kid with the same name (Bobby Jindal) could be a very desi dude as well. IMHO, you’re defining desi/brown in a very narrow manner, not considering that fact that Bobby as a name or his attitude aren’t all that alien to the larger diaspora. It’s a neutral one that works both ways.

    “Assimilating” isn’t wrong, if that’s what makes you truly happy in life. Neither is maintaining an identity from the motherland if that’s what makes you happy. Couple of generations down, majority of immigrants are “assimilated” anyway. Who are we to peg individuals in a category where they belong. If it’s prejudice that keeps immigrants from moving ahead in America, then it’s equally wrong to hate on people who never felt they belonged among a group to begin with.

    A Bhupinder Singh may get elected to a position you may not expect some day, but it will be because his message and strategy is powerful enough that the electorate won’t care too much about his name or religion. THAT is what is ultimately important, the core content of what you’re delivering. A movie poster won’t break or make a movie, it may have an impact on how well it catches on to a certain degree. The movie WILL make money because it’s actually good and people recommended it to their friends/family, spreading how good it is by word of mouth. Everything else is just a shell game when your product isn’t strong enough.

    My 2 cents…

  8. A Bhupinder Singh may get elected to a position you may not expect some day, but it will be because his message and strategy is powerful enough that the electorate won’t care too much about his name or religion.

    For example, the slogan of his insurgent (not in the Republican sense) campaign could be “Bhup some ass!”. I’d vote for that guy.

  9. Ennis, I don’t mean this with any malice in my heart, but why would a Hindu (or, frankly, anyone other than an upper-caste–yes, that’s who’s running the show, let’s not lie to each other-Sikh) from India feel more solidarity with your wearing with your beard and turban than with Bobby Jindal, who has been elected to be the Governor of Louisiana? Seriously, WTF? You invoke your beard and turban as some sort of “calling card” that I am supposed to respond to–whatever, dude, you can dress yourself up as whatever you want, but I’m not going to judge you positively based on that (just as I’m not going to base you negatively on that). I identify a lot more with Jindal and his optimistic embrace of America than with your paranoia about America. America is good for me and my family, not bad. And, oh, yeah, my family was dirt-poor for generations in India–tens, of generations–now we have some money, and we don’t give it to your pet causes–more like to VHP. Be a Democrat or a Republican, but stop hating on America b/c you’re committed to your weird version of Sikhism that is somehow magically in line with communists and Islamists rather than with real liberals, who hate the latter two groups.

  10. A President for the Ages?

    Re: my earlier post on the emergence of democracy in the US, we now have a President of a non-European hue. Free, free at last! Watch the media swoon at the inaugural balls. And Oprah and Jesse crying! Well, the President is sophisticated and he actually mentioned the word “Hindu” along with other religions in his inaugural speech. And he says “Eeraan” and not “I-ran” and that is a truly wondrous thing.

    But the popular media is still so illiterate. Things are so black-and-white. Many have declared the country free of racism and prejudice with the election of one different looking man about 200 years after the constitution got started. Lets have some perspective here folks! What about that senator from Louisiana. What if he wasn’t born-again; what if he was twice-born? Would you vote for him as the next Republican candidate for President? Wouldja? Meanwhile we had one woman take over from another in a presidential election in godforsaken, third-world, Muslim-dominant Bangaladesh. Boy, they must be crazy!

  11. I really must be communicating poorly.

    Gujudude:

    If we’re talking about the reaction of the party leadership and rank and file to a candidate, then his name and religion are very relevant to understanding what’s going on.
    His policies and value system is far more indicative of where he stands, not his superficial aspects. Bobby Jindal didn’t drop his last name either. Nor is Bobby a foreign name in subcontinent, it’s a pretty neutral universal name or pet name

    We’re talking past each other. I’m talking about how others perceive Jindal, and your response concerns his true inner nature. As I said in the comment you took the quote from, I’m not talking about the latter.

    How somebody is perceived is very very important in politics. And as somebody who does political commentary on this blog, it is noteworthy.

    Rob -

    I am very positive about America. That’s why I bother to talk about these issues, rather than pulling out to just make money and insulate myself from some of the nasty things I talk about.

    I’m just talking about how different desi figures are perceived by the electorate. This is independent from their positions. The same set of positions, attached to different faces and names, will get different numbers of votes. Just like the same resume, with different names on top, will get an interview or be overlooked. The fact is that both employers and voters do judge a book by its cover.

    Buster: This is precisely why, Jindal can be old wine in a new bottle AND Jindal and Steele’s arrival signal that this isn’t your father’s GOP any more.

    Rahul: Until voters stop judging candidates by their attributes, I am not going to stop writing about it. If voters only judged candidates by their positions, then that’s all I would focus on too.

  12. It’s becoming pretty clear why a lot of people are desperately trying to belittle Bobby Jindal. All a case of being overly judgemental.

    First of all, many desis see the Republican Party full of racists and rednecks. So seeing a brown person becoming popular with that party clearly upsets that view of Republicans…so people like Ennis must find reasons to re-assure themselves that the Republicans are still that racist, minority hating hicks. Easy explanation, he’s assimiliated…now to find “evidence” to back this up…easy…look at his name…and his son’s name…he’s got to be a self-hating assimilated desi…just change your name to Bobby, name your son Slade and those dumb rednecks who run the Republican party can’t tell the difference between you and white people.

    Secondly, there’s no way Jindal can win with these types of accusations. Like he didn’t marry a white woman…oh that’s cos he didn’t want to offend them racist white folks for taking away one of their women. Of course if he had married a white woman, that would’ve been presented as Exhibit A in proving he’s a self hating person. There’s no way he can win. And yeah Jindal rhymes with jingle…nice argument there…dismiss the question why he didn’t shorten his name to Bobby Jin.

    Fact is, it bothers a lot of desis (like Ennis) that their well constructed view of the Republicans being racist is disturbed, and that too by someone with the same colour of them…there has to be some good, sinister explanation for why Jindal is popular with Republicans. Yes he must’ve sold his soul to the Devil.

  13. Suki Dillon – You are right about casteism amongst Sikhs, particularly Jat Sikhs. And not just in India. Indeed, there are Gurudwaras all over North America and England, wich are exclusively frequented by one Sikh caste or another. Any Gurudwaras named for Guru Ravi Das is built by Dalit Sikhs, and there are also Labana Gurudwaras. In both these temples you will very rarely encounter Jat Sikhs.

  14. Having a funny name and being the son of immigrant will not prevent you from becoming Governor. Let not forget about the great former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, a man who some have compared to Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. The same great governor who appointed a black man Rod Burris to the senate when there were none. Making him a modern day Branch Ricky who helped Jackie Robinson become the 1st black player in baseball. But then this great man was impeached for no good reason.

    Only in country like America can people like Jindal and Blagojevich sons of immigrants make it to the top. And who knows after Blago is found of innocent of these false charges could we see Jindal vs Blagojevicjh in 2016.

  15. We’re talking past each other. I’m talking about how others perceive Jindal, and your response concerns his true inner nature. As I said in the comment you took the quote from, I’m not talking about the latter

    Fair enough…

    And who knows after Blago is found of innocent of these false charges could we see Jindal vs Blagojevicjh in 2016.

    Innocent or not, Blago is done. His political support structure where he drew his power from is gone. His handling of the case has resulted in the man not having any credibility or capital.

  16. great former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, a man who some have compared to Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.

    you’re kidding, right?

  17. Jindal seems like a smart and successful politician. I fail to understand this attitude. It seems unique.

    1. An American of Indian origin Sonal Shah is religious, retains her desi roots / culture and connections and donates her time (and possibly money) to VHP. It is a problem and she is evil and not to be supported.

    2. An American of Indian origin Bobby Jindal moves away from his desi roots / culture and connections and donates his time and energy to republican party and becomes a governor. It is a problem, he is not to be supported.

    Hmm. So in order for an American of Indian origin to be supported, it looks like he/she needs to get a manual from the likes of Vijay Prashad on what constitutes good behavior and follow the same. :-)

  18. “Hmm. So in order for an American of Indian origin to be supported, it looks like he/she needs to get a manual from the likes of Vijay Prashad on what constitutes good behavior and follow the same. :-)

    yes, that conclusion clearly follows from your premises :-)

  19. 116 · Suki Dillon said

    Let not forget about the great former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich

    Blagojevich’s father-in-law was a major figure in the Chicago political machine, and he only got his shot after there were several political crises. He’s an interesting example, but not of name blindness.

  20. floridian – welcome back. I have for one have missed your sagacity. Hope all is well with family and the business.

  21. 119 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    Jindal seems like a smart and successful politician. I fail to understand this attitude. It seems unique. 1. An American of Indian origin Sonal Shah is religious, retains her desi roots / culture and connections and donates her time (and possibly money) to VHP. It is a problem and she is evil and not to be supported. 2. An American of Indian origin Bobby Jindal moves away from his desi roots / culture and connections and donates his time and energy to republican party and becomes a governor. It is a problem, he is not to be supported. Hmm. So in order for an American of Indian origin to be supported, it looks like he/she needs to get a manual from the likes of Vijay Prashad on what constitutes good behavior and follow the same. :-)

    wow. this is incredibly true. Almost strikingly on target.

  22. i am no fan of jindal’s politics, but this entire argument is quite judgmental. you can name your kid anything you want. i think it is far more tricky to consider the abcds, arroganly “proud” that they’ve “retained” their roots, naming their kid a very anglocised desi name such as neil or maya.

  23. Innocent or not, Blago is done. His political support structure where he drew his power from is gone. His handling of the case has resulted in the man not having any credibility or capital.

    I have feeling that Blago will make one of the great political comebacks of all time. Even D.L Hughley the future voice of black America has called Blagojevich his all time hero and said he wants to help prove Blago is innocent.

  24. Blagojevich’s father-in-law was a major figure in the Chicago political machine, and he only got his shot after there were several political crises. He’s an interesting example, but not of name blindness.

    I think it may have more to do with his hair.

  25. Judge Jindal by what he does, and what his politics are. Look to your own family and friends for ethnic identity. The real problem is the GOP positioning him as the minority candidate a la Obama, though he is perceived as moving away from his ethnic roots. You cannot have it both ways. If Jindal built his career specifically not to be the minority candidate to get to where he is as governor of Louisiana, he nor the GOP should expect him to be appealing as a “minority” candidate to minorities now just because Obama won.

  26. 25 · razib said

    If his son had been named Moishe Teitelbaum Jindal, what would you think? If his daughter had been named LaQuisha Jindal, what would you think? fair enough point. laqisha. lol. He’s a brown Catholic. Slade Ryan (to my ears) sounds very waspy, that is, very white, very angle an very protestant. It sounds as deliberate as any of the names I’ve listed above. american white cultures are more diverse than this, you’re stereotypes aren’t too fine-grained. the catholics in louisana are cajun, which is way diff. than northern catholics. here’s a baby name map. a new england WASP would not have a name like ‘slade.’ it’s a nouveau name and lacks class. things are different in the south, and the southern upper class has that weird habit of giving kids last names as first (e.g., jackson). it turns out that slade is a welsh surname, but i suspect it is a normal name in his social circles. see this article on politics & baby names. btw, bobby didn’t take a big step toward assimilation: marry a white chick (which around 1/3 of american brown brownz do).

    “Slade” isn’t a Welsh surname; it’s an English surname…from Old English/Anglo-Saxon.

  27. somehow my above comment got messed up. I was only saying that ‘”Slade” isn’t a Welsh surname; it’s an English surname…from Old English/Anglo-Saxon.’ The other comments is someone else’s.

    But something else which is interesting….

    In the latest Politics Home survey, Bobby Jindal is the most popular Republican in the US, and in fact the most favourably rated of all of the politics figures they asked their surveyees about, see: http://www.politicshome.com/USA/Landing.aspx?Blog=6132&perma=link

  28. 109 · GujuDude said

    “Assimilating” isn’t wrong, if that’s what makes you truly happy in life. Neither is maintaining an identity from the motherland if that’s what makes you happy. Couple of generations down, majority of immigrants are “assimilated” anyway. Who are we to peg individuals in a category where they belong. If it’s prejudice that keeps immigrants from moving ahead in America, then it’s equally wrong to hate on people who never felt they belonged among a group to begin with.

    I never said it was right or wrong. People keep claiming that I have passed a judgment here, and I am honestly perplexed and befuddled by this. What I said was that the fact that his name is familiar and easy for an American to say (and yes, Bobby is an American name) means that that nativists who would normally oppose a candidate named Piyush have no objection to one named Bobby.

    It’s an important point, but not one that is value laden. People keep reading my post according to what they want / expect to hear, and it’s really bizarre for me as the writer to see what people think I said.

  29. I am getting bored with Jindal. It always is the same discussion about him. His name, his religious conversion, blah blah blah. These topics are less and less of interest. I think his politics sucks (too right wing), his name Bobby is stupid (but whatever, he can call himself what he likes), and I don’t care about his conversion (just not a role model to me in that respect). The more people bring him up, the more annoying he gets. Now I wish he would just go away, but I know that it is unlikely, because the stupid GOP is all about promoting minorities, post Obama. I resent them promoting Jindal as the great brown GOP hope. I as a minority feel used, not respected. The tactics of the GOP via minorities (Steel,Cao, not only Jindal) and women (Palin) is more interesting to talk about than the same old Jindal stories.