Meet the Anti-Obama

In an interesting piece, Andrew Romano introduces Newsweek readers to Republican Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

Bobby Jindal is in a hurry. It was only an hour ago that the Louisiana governor, 37, landed near the town of Longville (population: 2,462) and descended from his helicopter, Pelican One, into an SUV bound for the local Baptist church. And it’ll be only a little while before Jindal reboards the chopper and resumes a tour that will, by bedtime tomorrow, take him to Breaux Bridge, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Arcadia and, finally, New Orleans—a typical, 1,000-mile, midweek excursion for the boyish politician who rarely bothers to eat or urinate when traveling, which is almost always (emphasis mine).

After two years of fawning over an empty suit, Newsweek apparently thinks the best way to dismiss Jindal as a serious candidate is by likening him to The One™. The prostrate-enhanced whirlwind described above almost reads like a parody of the media caricature of Obama, except in the case of Obama, the media was oblivious to the satire.

There are plenty of rising stars in the GOP. But in the wake of Barack Obama’s victory on Nov. 4, none has attracted as much speculation, curiosity and unapologetic hype as Jindal. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently called him “the most transformative young governor in America.” Radio host Rush Limbaugh refers to him as “the next Ronald Reagan. . .”

This, of course, is the same sort of swooning that propelled a certain Illinois state senator to the presidency. So it’s no surprise that “many prominent members of the GOP,” as the Post noted, already consider Jindal their “own version of Obama”—the charismatic, nonwhite, Ivy League change agent destined to revitalize his party. Critics carp that Jindalmaniacs are simply jumping on the Benetton bandwagon, and Norquist admits that having at least one young, brown-skinned prospect is “helpful” in the age of Obama. . .

The comparison between Jindal and Obama works if you can suspend disbelief long enough to think a successful 37-year-old who overcame academic racist quotas the equivalent of a 47-year old lifelong beneficiary of such quotas.

Jindal is hardly ashamed of his heritage; at Brown he once answered a professor’s hypothetical question—”If a high school only took the brightest students, would it be mostly white or mostly black?”—by slipping Ahsanuddin a note that read “all Asian.”

Interesting. That’s the first time I’ve seen the Ivy League’s dirty little secret mentioned in a mainstream media publication. The truth isn’t that race-based affirmative action admissions policies favor blacks at the expense of whites, but that they favor blacks and whites at the expense of Asians. If Harvard and Yale ever introduce truly color-blind admissions policies, then blacks, Hispanics and non-Jewish whites collectively might be able to achieve 1% representation in those institutions.

Some might see Jindal as a political opportunist. But the governor’s history of self-invention, yet another echo of Obama, seems less a product of ambition than of assimilation.

If Jindal was a political opportunist, he wouldn’t have converted to Catholicism.

“If I wanted the aesthetics without the inconvenient morality,” he wrote in 1998, “I could become Episcopalian.”

Of course by Catholicism, I mean the real thing, not the cafeteria version espoused by the Bidens, Kennedys and Pelosis et al., which is closer to the Episcopal variant, but without the aesthetics or the morality.


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