Well, Gee, Bobby.

bobbyjindal

Adam on Jindal’s awful, awful response:

The press has, for some time, been running with the idea that Bobby Jindal is the GOP’s Obama. It’s unclear what prompts the comparison between the two other than that they are both young, brown, Ivy League-educated, and beloved by their respective bases. But it’s a comparison that the monochromatic Republican Party, anxious to show its inclusiveness, has been happy to accept. That makes it no less inane, and no less transparent an attempt to put a nonwhite face on an increasingly white party.

Jindal and Obama could not be more different, and the contrasts begin but don’t end with the fact that one of them changed his name to fit in while the other carried his daddy’s “funny” African moniker all the way to the White House. Last night, the differences were clear: Where Jindal was awkward, Obama was confident. Obama has mastered his voice, Jindal sounded like he didn’t know how to give a speech. Obama had mastered a variety of tones and cadences early in his career, Jindal offered a forced folksiness to a sing-song tune. But perhaps the most telling part of Jindal’s response was his extended introduction of his family history. Until now, the GOP has allowed the press to make the Obama comparisons, last night, Jindal tried to make one himself, an act that was inadvertently self-diminishing.

The whole thing is worth quoting, but you should go over to TAPPED and read it.

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24 comments to Well, Gee, Bobby.

  • ladyfresshh

    Can i call him piyush?

    unfortunately i missed his speech, i almost missed obama’s as well

    it seems piyush and steele are coming across as puppets which is sad because i believe in balance and puppets will not balance out an intelligent president and highly motivated dem base

  • ladyfresshh

    Can i call him piyush?

    unfortunately i missed his speech, i almost missed obama’s as well

    it seems piyush and steele are coming across as puppets which is sad because i believe in balance and puppets will not balance out an intelligent president and highly motivated dem base

  • Winslowalrob

    What a retarded article. Changing one’s name = lack of political savvy? And way to treat Africa like one country American Prospect. Classy! The reason Jindal is nothing like Obama is because Jindal is a Republican, not because of “identity”.

  • thinking of a name

    This is a good article. I felt the same way when I heard Jindal’s response. It was as if I was watching Superman, and they introduced the anti-Superman, you know he looks like Superman and has all the powers of Superman but uses them for evil. Someone who is able to fight Superman on Superman’s ground and acts as a leveling factor to the bad guys. I kid you not, that is all I kept thinking during the speech.

    Now I am not saying that Jindal is a tool of evil in the Republican Party used to level the playing ground against the Democrats, but I sure couldn’t get that picture out of my head. I understand why you do that in marketing products. You have a Tevin Campbell, so you get an Usher and you have an Usher so you get a Mario or you have a Barbie so you get a Bratz, but these are the ideologies that run the nation through the highest office, I am hoping that people are not being that short sighted. I mean is non-white the new black?

  • thinking of a name

    This is a good article. I felt the same way when I heard Jindal’s response. It was as if I was watching Superman, and they introduced the anti-Superman, you know he looks like Superman and has all the powers of Superman but uses them for evil. Someone who is able to fight Superman on Superman’s ground and acts as a leveling factor to the bad guys. I kid you not, that is all I kept thinking during the speech.

    Now I am not saying that Jindal is a tool of evil in the Republican Party used to level the playing ground against the Democrats, but I sure couldn’t get that picture out of my head. I understand why you do that in marketing products. You have a Tevin Campbell, so you get an Usher and you have an Usher so you get a Mario or you have a Barbie so you get a Bratz, but these are the ideologies that run the nation through the highest office, I am hoping that people are not being that short sighted. I mean is non-white the new black?

  • Scott

    Gee and I thought that Barry was Obama’s daddy’s name. I guess The Prospect missed that detail in their rush to trash Jindal. I guess Obama decided to change it when he rediscovered his heritage just like Gerald Rivera, I mean Geraldo Rivera.

  • Winslow, Looks like we went as far as the threaded comments would let us go.

    Okay, I think I understand the point you’re trying to make. This, especially:

    instead of trying to look at Jindal as an individual failure, we tie his failure to his mythical ‘white-washing’, while proud black brothas like Obama (a half-white half-black Hawaiian raised by his white family) are successful politicians because they are ‘unapologetically’ black (whatever the hell that means). It sounds like a bunch of retarded ethnic cheerleading, which we should just leave to the Republicans who are much less subtle about it.

    I guess the question is, are you a better person if you stay true to your “roots?” Not necessarily. And I think if there’s one thing the Obama candidacy and subsequent presidency has done, it’s fuzzed the line of race, ethnicity, and identity. No one is just one thing or another, and Jindal certainly isn’t just some “coconut” (I went to school with Indian and Filipino kids, and I’ve definitely heard that term a lot).

    I still think that Adam is mostly right when he writes: “But perhaps the most telling part of Jindal’s response was his extended introduction of his family history. Until now, the GOP has allowed the press to make the Obama comparisons, last night, Jindal tried to make one himself, an act that was inadvertently self-diminishing.”

    Not because Jindal is not as cool as Obama just because he’s different (he isn’t as cool as Obama, but who is?); but because he’s attempted to capitalize on the brown-man/child-of-immigrants meme, as if that’s the sum total of Obama’s mojo. It just seems really blatant to me. Republicans can’t win on policy right now. McCain and Palin tried to scare us, and when that failed, they decided to have Jindal and Steele try to win us over with identity politics and outdated hip hop slang.

    I do concede that Jindal’s comparison may not have been self-diminishing, exactly. And Obama’s life experience doesn’t necessarily make him a better, more authentic person than Jindal.

  • Huh? Jindal is nothing like Obama, but the media, and now the GOP are trying to draw parallels between the two in order to capitalize on some of Obama’s success.

    I think you missed the point. Identity is the sole reason why people aren’t like one another.

    (And I don’t think Serwer was “treating Africa like one country” by saying Barack Obama is an “African” name. As Kenya is in Africa, it is factually correct to say that. That’s like getting mad at someone who says “Jacques” is a European name.)

  • ladyfresshh

    You may wish to clarify or expound on this:

    The reason Jindal is nothing like Obama is because Jindal is a Republican, not because of “identity”.

    because at the moment if that is the only difference you claim then you are giving validity to this comment in the article:

    that the GOP still sees Obama through Rush Limbaugh’s eyes, as a cipher whose only appeal is the color of his skin

  • Winslowalrob

    Lady, yes, the GOP is completely obsessed around the race of its alternative candidates to Obama, the thing that infuriates me about my side’s riposte to them is that we try to support our candidate’s “identity” rather than his stance on the issues (which have been problematic at times cough cough Obama keeping some of Bush’s terrorism policies, and I freely acknowledge that in no time in American history has anybody actually cared about ‘the issues’).

    The reason “identity” is such a dangerous path to follow (yes Shani-O, you are right that identity differentiates people, but conversely it can create intense solidarity) is because a lot of people are couching their support of Obama on his ‘authentic’ blackness versus Jindal’s ‘assimilated’ Indianness. Just read this line again:

    Jindal and Obama could not be more different, and the contrasts begin but don’t end with the fact that one of them changed his name to fit in while the other carried his daddy’s “funny” African moniker all the way to the White House.

    Which completely sets up the rest of his argument, because it is couched on this dichotomy of authentic versus fake identity. This is stupid as hell because one) it assumes there is such a thing as authentic blackness or Indianness and two) that Obama is the former and Jindal is not the latter (thank you Serwer for being the arbiter of such pressing matters! Can you tell us if Tiger Woods is authentically black too while you are at it, I am dying to know!). A name change does not make you a traitor to your people. Not that I want to defend Jindal, who is an ass, but I want to attack him based on his policies and ideas, rather than his coconut status (brown on the outside, white on the inside, and that is what a lot of attacks are sounding like).

    PS Shani Jacques is French for Jacob and James, which are English translations of Greek translations of Hebrew names. These were Biblical/ol skool Jewish names, which were formed in continental Asia and Africa. So then which continent takes dibs? I just want to call into question the whole notion of continental ownership. Get it by country (which is problematic still, but less so) or linguistic group (ditto).

  • Winslowalrob

    Lady, yes, the GOP is completely obsessed around the race of its alternative candidates to Obama, the thing that infuriates me about my side’s riposte to them is that we try to support our candidate’s “identity” rather than his stance on the issues (which have been problematic at times cough cough Obama keeping some of Bush’s terrorism policies, and I freely acknowledge that in no time in American history has anybody actually cared about ‘the issues’).

    The reason “identity” is such a dangerous path to follow (yes Shani-O, you are right that identity differentiates people, but conversely it can create intense solidarity) is because a lot of people are couching their support of Obama on his ‘authentic’ blackness versus Jindal’s ‘assimilated’ Indianness. Just read this line again:

    Jindal and Obama could not be more different, and the contrasts begin but don’t end with the fact that one of them changed his name to fit in while the other carried his daddy’s “funny” African moniker all the way to the White House.

    Which completely sets up the rest of his argument, because it is couched on this dichotomy of authentic versus fake identity. This is stupid as hell because one) it assumes there is such a thing as authentic blackness or Indianness and two) that Obama is the former and Jindal is not the latter (thank you Serwer for being the arbiter of such pressing matters! Can you tell us if Tiger Woods is authentically black too while you are at it, I am dying to know!). A name change does not make you a traitor to your people. Not that I want to defend Jindal, who is an ass, but I want to attack him based on his policies and ideas, rather than his coconut status (brown on the outside, white on the inside, and that is what a lot of attacks are sounding like).

    PS Shani Jacques is French for Jacob and James, which are English translations of Greek translations of Hebrew names. These were Biblical/ol skool Jewish names, which were formed in continental Asia and Africa. So then which continent takes dibs? I just want to call into question the whole notion of continental ownership. Get it by country (which is problematic still, but less so) or linguistic group (ditto).

  • shani-o

    Scott, as Adam wrote when someone brought up that same (lame) point:

    “Barry” is short for “Barack,” “Bobby” is not short for “Piyush.”

  • shani-o

    Excellent question. For some, I guess any non-white will do?

  • shani-o

    Excellent question. For some, I guess any non-white will do?

  • Scott

    Barry is short for Barack, really? Since when has that been the case?

  • shani-o

    Come on. You used to be much better than this.

  • Scott

    Sorry I’m slipping, I blame it on the Corporate Tax class I’m taking this semester as part of my LLM in Tax. I admit I was a liberal arts major to avoid math. I hope I can regain my former eloquence but looking at the upcoming classes I’m not so confident.

    But anyway, I guess for you that Piyush should have gone by Pi or something similar for that to be short for Piyush? I mean if that were the case, Barry should have gone by Bar instead. To me, Jim is short for James or someone named Richard goes by Dick, that sort of thing, not Barry is short for Barack.

  • shani-o

    Well, his grandmother used to call him Bar. I mean, not to get into the semantics of nicknaming, but they can get very diminutive. Richard can become Rich which can become Richie. Is that not equivalent to Barry?

    And anyway, Barack chose to stop being called Barry when he got older.

    Jindal can obviously have whatever nickname he chooses, but choosing to use an American name that has no correlation to his actual given ‘foreign’ name is just one more delineation between him and Obama.

  • Winslowalrob

    Shani, I am sorry, but I do not see that as a meaningful difference. Jindal could have called him self Jesus McChrist or … Ok, I do not know enough Hindi (and I am assuming Jindal’s family is Hindi) to give a ‘typical’ name, but it really would not matter. What matters is policy… ok, that is what SHOULD matter, but I know it does not and never will. I do not want people rejecting Jindal because of his “assimilation” while praising Obama for keeping his “essence”, because as far as I can tell they are both English-speaking heterosexual United States citizens who went to college and work for the government… they are both assimilated, period. This is another episode of is “x person y enough?” except instead of Obama and black it is now Jindal and Indian. I thought people were past this…

  • Winslowalrob

    Shani, I am sorry, but I do not see that as a meaningful difference. Jindal could have called him self Jesus McChrist or … Ok, I do not know enough Hindi (and I am assuming Jindal’s family is Hindi) to give a ‘typical’ name, but it really would not matter. What matters is policy… ok, that is what SHOULD matter, but I know it does not and never will. I do not want people rejecting Jindal because of his “assimilation” while praising Obama for keeping his “essence”, because as far as I can tell they are both English-speaking heterosexual United States citizens who went to college and work for the government… they are both assimilated, period. This is another episode of is “x person y enough?” except instead of Obama and black it is now Jindal and Indian. I thought people were past this…

  • shani-o

    Listen. I fully reject Jindal because of his policy positions. His speech was awful simply based on the substance of it.

    But. The point here isn’t “Jindal ain’t authentic” or whatever. The identity issue is tertiary. What I, and I think others, are taking issue with wrt identity is that Jindal is being pushed forward seemingly as the anti-Obama, simply because he’s young, relatively charismatic, and brown. Same thing with Michael Steele.

    It’s this whole “look, he’s not your daddy’s Republican!” thing. Except, he is. And that’s fine… but let’s call a spade a spade.

    When people bring up the differences between Jindal and Obama, it’s to illustrate that you can’t just put any brown man (or a woman, like Palin) out there and expect people to think you’re doing something different if policy remains the same.

  • shani-o

    Listen. I fully reject Jindal because of his policy positions. His speech was awful simply based on the substance of it.

    But. The point here isn’t “Jindal ain’t authentic” or whatever. The identity issue is tertiary. What I, and I think others, are taking issue with wrt identity is that Jindal is being pushed forward seemingly as the anti-Obama, simply because he’s young, relatively charismatic, and brown. Same thing with Michael Steele.

    It’s this whole “look, he’s not your daddy’s Republican!” thing. Except, he is. And that’s fine… but let’s call a spade a spade.

    When people bring up the differences between Jindal and Obama, it’s to illustrate that you can’t just put any brown man (or a woman, like Palin) out there and expect people to think you’re doing something different if policy remains the same.

  • thinking of a name

    Hi Winslowalrob –

    I am new here but thought I would just jump into the conversation. The original point of the article was that some how people are trying to compare Obama and Jindal and say oh yes, how similar they are, a fact that was strengthened by Jindal’s references in his speech that linked President Obama’s heritage to his own (parents being immigrants, parents having hard time paying medical bills, so on and so on), but the author was making the point that they were not similar at all, not only in ideology, but also as individuals and the choice of name was one point in the overall argument.

    Now, what would be an interesting argument to me would be when did Bobby Jindal become Bobby Jindal? Did he adopt this “name” once he decided to get into politics or has this been his “name” since he was a child? That would be interesting to me, not in a conversation about is he “x” enough, but if he did choose his “name” since getting involved in politics it would give me insight into Jindal the political candidate.

  • Winslowalrob

    Shani and thinking, thank you for being cool and engaging me on this, I know I am really stubborn about my interpretation of the article but let me try to clarify. We are arguing over two different things: Shani’s point about how Obama and Jindal are individually different (which I agree with) and the connection between identity and politics as evidenced by the name change (which is something I reject and the article presupposes). Maybe I am just hyper-sensitive about this because I have been accused of being a coconut myself (what does a brown person act like? or a white person? I just find the people who give a crap about “acting white” are massive brownier-than-thou d-bags), and Serwer rather than make an excellent argument blowing holes in the myth of monolothic brown (or black, or latino, or non-white) identities, he basically uses coded language that implies the reason Obama is such a badass is BECAUSE he is not a no-good coconut like Jindal, as evidenced by the name change. I mean, this might be ‘an overly close reading’ (trademark) but usually I am pretty good at spotting appeals to racial ‘authenticity’. The first line of the second paragraph is basically the only ‘meaningful’ proof of Jindal’s personal weaknesses because his lack of confidence, finesse and political skillz are all somehow tied to it. If Serwer had just written the whole thing without that line, it would have been fine (though a boilerplate attack on Jindal). With it, the tenor is altogether different, and instead of trying to look at Jindal as an individual failure, we tie his failure to his mythical ‘white-washing’, while proud black brothas like Obama (a half-white half-black Hawaiian raised by his white family) are successful politicians because they are ‘unapologetically’ black (whatever the hell that means). It sounds like a bunch of retarded ethnic cheerleading, which we should just leave to the Republicans who are much less subtle about it. I know I am salty about this, but this is bullcrap that does not get called out nearly as much as it should specifically because so many people from our side do it.

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