Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kenneth the Page and other Republican Problems

After the President gives a State of the Union, the opposition party traditionally is alotted news time to respond. This is a big national stage that is often used to showcase rising stars in the party, and so it was when Bobby Jindal, Republican Governor of Louisiana, was selected to give the rebuttal to the President's speech.

Bobby Jindal is part of the new wave of Republican leaders who are trying to make the GOP more multi-cultural, more modern, and more electable, while still holding tight to its conservative roots. Michael Steele, new African-American head of the RNC, pledged to give the RNC a "hip-hop" makeover for example. Bobby Jindal's name has long been kickng around as a 2012 Presidential nominee for his youth, strong record (congressman and governor), southern credentials and, frankly, because he doesn't look like the long line of old white men the GOP has been pushing since its inception.

Unfortunately, the Jindal speech didn't go quite as planned. Of course the Democratic response was bound to be negative anyway, but even Republicans had trouble with this one. You can read the full sampling here at Bloomberg, but below are some choice quotes:

Jindal “seemed more like a high school student giving a valedictory speech than a potential future leader of the party,” wrote Philip Klein of the “American Spectator.”

“A lot of Republicans I am speaking with were expecting this would be like Obama’s moment in 2004” when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention and gained immediate national fame, said David Johnson, a Republican strategist who advised Bob Dole in 1988. “He bombed out.”

Said Brit Hume of Fox News: “The speech read a lot better than it sounded. This was not Bobby Jindal’s greatest oratorical moment.”

Or to quote Republican strategist David Brooks, it was just "insane"

About the only person still on Jindal's side is Rush Limbaugh, who warned GOP members in no uncertain terms to back off, or else. Check out the video here.

The most damning part about the whole thing might be the so-called "Kenneth the Page" comparison, which has sprung into a full fledged blogger phenomenon. Hilarious, and spot on, Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock has now become Bobby Jindal's alter ego and the living embodiement of what's frustrating the Republican party. They say that Jindal's speech reads better than his delivery appears, but then again, Nixon sounded better on the radio too.

Want to compare and contrast? Below you'll find both Kenneth and Bobby together.