Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is Jindal finished?

Everyone is talking about what a flop his response speech was last night, and I agree that it was a flop. Giving an opposition response to the president is a tough gig under any circumstances. At the same time, the list of SOTU-rebuttals does not contain a lot of names of people who went on to great political stardom, and a lot of the names are people who flamed out badly. Fair or not fair, it seems to be absolutely possible for a single flubbed high-profile speech to basically end the rise of a young pol. Kathleen Sebelius is probably one example.

So, did this happen to Jindal last night? We won't know for a long time. If we learn one thing from political history it is that there are no real rules and anything can happen. But Jindal's speech has some of the hallmarks of a career-killer: a.) high expectations vs. genuinely underwhelming performance, b.) a politician who entered the speech with a relatively unformed image in the public mind, c.) an easy-to-mock delivery -- the whole Kenneth-the-page thing is a bit mean but the sort of thing that sticks, d.) an accruing pundit-class consensus that the speech was flubbed.

I find Jindal to be a likable guy, and I know Saxdrop has been a fan. I wonder if he'll be able to bounce back.

UPDATE [2/25 3:18pm] ... Marc Ambinder says Jindal hasn't damaged his prospects in the slightest:
Politicians use charisma -- call it authentic presence -- to cover up their human quirks. Luckily for Jindal, other WH 2012 or 2016 contenders (and remember, Jindal's said he's not running for president in 2012, although, as with our current president, voters don't seem to care about these promises), aren't terribly charismatic either, aside from Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has a tenuous relationship to certain parts of the Republican base. The good news for Jindal is that expectations have been lowered a bit, and if you believe him to be serious about not running until at least 2016, not a thing has happened to change his prospects.

1 comment:

Erik said...

I think comparisons to past SOTU responses may not be applicable to this one. Jindal may, in fact, be mostly done because his base wanted so much more out of him than the standard SOTU response. The current generation of Republicans are not used to being walloped so bad, being so marginalized and are so much running around with their heads cut off that they desperately wanted Jindal to deliver the impossible: a speech that suddenly made them matter in the eyes of the public. His speech, while some what poorly delivered, contained all the Republican bread and butter they've been loving since the Reagan era, and normally that would be fine and status quo.

Problem is Republicans don't want status quo, they want to be back on top again. Right now. Say what you will about the Democrats, but at least they've lost enough to know that there's always next time. Some Cubs fans need to sit down with the Republicans and tell them not to crucify everyone that doesn't lead them to the promised land.