In case you missed it, Republican Louisiana Governor and NBC page Bobby Jindal unexpectedly sprang from the stage wings yesterday to step into conservatism's currently fashionable star role: the Righteously Indignant Douche-Canoe. As usual, he wasn't equal to the performance.
The particulars of the Bobby's latest bomb are viewable in the video above and readable in the transcript below, with dramatic stage business. But the tl;dr is this: The role sucks, and plays to a shrinking audience, and will be off off off Broadway soon, and anyway, he's all wrong for it.
The posture of the Righteously Indignant Douche-Canoe is, like Hamlet, easily assumed but rarely performed well. Believe me, I know whereof I speak. The lines, or their general gist, are a cinch to remember. The indignation is easy to summon, whether or not one believes what one is saying. The critical thing is actually being a douche-canoe.
There are many types of opinionated people, but the douche-canoe is special. The douche-canoe is nominally effectual, not necessarily at getting things done, but at getting things said and heard. He—and it is invariably a he—is a forceful personality who, despite this force, is mostly buoyed by the indignation of lesser angry supporters.
Most importantly, he makes it look natural: He seemingly can't help but be a douche-canoe. It is his cross to bear. Martin Luther was perhaps the first, and most important, douche-canoe—to have the temerity and the apparent sincerity to resist an imperial court and say: "Here I stand; I can do no other." In fact, he probably didn't say that, but we can imagine him saying it. That's so Lutheran.
Like them or hate them, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are douche-canoes. They can do no other. Or they certainly cannot appear to do any other.
Bobby Jindal is not a douche-canoe. He is a simple bumbling ambitious entitled Rhodes scholar flailing wildly to be a jokey populist with an anti-populist message. He can give the lines, and they are even more outrageous than they'd ever be from Cruz or Paul, not merely because the lines are crazy—and they are—but because he can't make it look natural. He draws attention to the performance itself, like a young Elizabethan boy cast as Juliet or Katherine or Lady Macbeth.
Except that even a boy in drag can have fun with the role in a Shakespeare play. Bobby Jindal just looks like a faking dipshit.
He'd probably make a great Estragon, though.
[Our setting: A staged press meeting outside the White House. Representatives of the National Governor's Association—Democrats and Republicans—have mixed and met breezily with President Obama to discuss their concerns, especially the economy. Having established an air of comity, our characters stride together to the microphone, all smiles, led by NGA chairwoman and Republican Oklahoma Gov. MARY FALLIN. After some cursory comments on the importance of energy independence and her counsels to the president, FALLIN asks if any other governors have anything to add. BOBBY JINDAL steps forward.]
JINDAL: I've made a few suggestions today and I've got additional suggestions… if you're serious about growing the economy. Keystone pipeline's certainly one. Increasing drilling and leasing activity on federal lands is another… The reality is the president's got a choice. What I worry about… yes, he did mention the minimum wage. Repeatedly to us. What I worry about is president, the White House, seems to raise the white flag of surrender.
[Crowd of governors behind JINDAL laughs, shifts uneasily.]
After five years now of this administration the Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that. America can do better than that… I asked specifically about reining in excessive regulations, especially the EPA…
[Governors begin turning away behind JINDAL, opening side conversations.]
...and so I think there are things we can do instead of waving the white flag of surrender, instead of declaring this economy to be a minimum wage economy…
[Gov. DANNEL MALLOY (D-Conn.) steps forward to the mike amid his colleagues' laughter]
MALLOY: Uh, ah, just one second. Until a few moments ago, we were going down a pretty cooperative road… We don't all agree that moving Canadian oil through the United States is necessarily the best thing for the United States economy… And you just heard what I think ended up being the most partisan statement that we've had all weekend. So let's be clear. There are many people here like myself that support a minimum wage and an increase in the minimum wage….
I don't know what the heck was that reference to white flags when it comes to people making $404 a week. I mean, that's the most insane I've ever heard, quite frankly.
JINDAL: [In background] Now, nownownownownow.
MALLOY: So let's be very clear that we've had a great meeting, and we didn't go down that road, and it just started again, and we didn't start it. Thank you.
[JINDAL jumps up to mike as other governors turn to leave]
JINDAL: I'll take about 30 seconds… I'd like to just respond real quickly. If that was the most partisan statement he's heard all weekend, I wanna make sure that he hears a more partisan statement, which is: I think we could also grow the economy more, if we would delay more of these Obamacare mandates… we shouldn't accept policies like the minimum wage, which the CBO says will destroy 500,000 jobs… Look, this is—America can do better… we shouldn't be waving the white flag when it comes to growth… we think we can do better than the minimum wage economy.
[JINDAL drops mike, bedlam breaks out between governors and press. FALLIN and Gov. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D-Md.) rush to mike.]
FALLIN: I do apologize…
O'MALLEY: [Sarcastically.] I think we should invite Governor Jindal to join the NGA again.
FALLIN: He actually is going to.
O'MALLEY: [Sarcastically.] Is he? That's great. So Governor Jindal, we're glad you're gonna join the NGA again.