Whenever Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal talks, I cringe. He reminds me of Peter Sellers trying to imitate an Indian guy pretending to be a Southerner. Or rather, lacking Peter Seller’s talent, he sounds like a B-actor playing a bumbling Indian imitating a Southern politician.
Bobby Jindal is God’s gift to American comedians. In an effort to outdo all the other farcical characters in the field of 2016 Republican presidential candidates, he is being as outlandishly ridiculous as possible.
What happened to Bobby Jindal?
What happened to Jindal I think is what happens to most educated, smart Republican politicians. They have to dumb it down. They have to adhere to the Ronald Reagan role model. The trouble is, they cannot imitate Ronald Reagan’s affability, his genuine simplicity, his lack of intellectual depth. So they resort to stupid statements to attract the base. The beneficiaries of their extreme policies might be the one percent, but they need the other ninety nine percent to get elected. So they couch everything in the language of religion and tradition, language that the average Joe in Peoria will understand.
And they follow the Republican playbook, one of the founding principles of which is to vilify and insult our current President.
Even so, the things Bobby Jindal has said and done recently should make us all feel embarrassed and worried.
He recently said, for example, that Obama should get his tuition back from Harvard because “he learned nothing” there.
Moreover, standing on the White House grounds, he declared that “Obama was not fit to be Commander in Chief.”
He signed into law Louisiana’s Science Education Act, which enables the state’s schools to teach creationism. This, in spite of the fact that Jindal has an honor’s degree in biology.
He believes that hurricanes and tornadoes are caused by sins like homosexuality. At least that is what a brochure circulated at a prayer rally organized by him implies. “We have watched sin escalate to a proportion the nation has never seen before,” the pamphlet says. “We live in the first generation in which … homosexuality has been embraced…While the United States still claims to be a nation ‘under God’ it is obvious that we have greatly strayed from our foundations in Christianity. This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many … and let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina …”
Hours after the Louisiana legislature killed a bill that would have discriminated against gays and lesbians, Jindal issued an executive order on “Religious Freedom” allowing corporations and organizations to exercise their religious beliefs by effectively giving them an option to deny services to same-sex couples.
In the wake of the South Carolina shootings, he did not speak in favor of getting rid of the confederate flag from official buildings, instead suggesting that the States should make that decision.
His campaign slogan is: “Tanned. Rested. Ready.” Does he really think he is so white that he can actually get tanned?
The video announcing his presidential bid showed him threatening his kids with “not going to Iowa” if they did not support his candidacy. Is he so out of touch with reality that he does not realize only politicians want to go to Iowa?
As I write these words, Jindal announced an investigation into Planned Parenthood after a religious, anti-abortion organization accused it of “selling human body parts.”
I wonder if Jindal realizes that no one believes him when he opens his mouth and starts talking in that weird accent. Growing up with Indian parents, how many second generation children speak that way?
It is not Jindal’s rejection of the hyphenated ethnic identity that bothers me. In fact, that is one aspect of his personality that I could easily get behind; I do believe in being a global villager. What bothers me and possibly many other Indian-Americans is that he is not credible. His persona is completely fake. No one believes that he had a religious epiphany and converted to Christianity. People are convinced that he did it for political expediency.
Will the real Bobby Jindal please stand up? Will he quit being a caricature of a politician and start being himself? Will he realize that people are tired of inauthenticity in politics and that they want politicians to be genuine?
In this election season, when Bernie Sanders is drawing large crowds at campaign events simply because he speaks his mind, will Bobby Jindal stop mouthing hackneyed GOP slogans?
Or should we give him a dose of his own medicine and ask him to surrender his diploma from Brown University as well as the money for his Rhodes Scholarship for being too stupid to have deserved either one?
Sarita Sarvate (www.saritasarvate.com) has published commentaries for New America Media, KQED FM, San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, and many nationwide publications.