Bobby Jindal: the Uncanny Valley of GOP Politics

Bobby JindalI can’t even remember how many responses I’ve read to Kevin Drum’s weak argument, Liberals Should Knock Off the Mockery Over Calls to Limit Syrian Refugees. I really don’t care. I am with Martin Longman in thinking that Republicans who claim to be such strong jerks are really wimps who “become incontinent every time they think of a Muslim terrorist.” But really, it is this kind of stuff that has me depressed this week. Can’t the whole country have its entirely predictable freak out without it being considered news? Oh my God: Republicans want to increase our military presence in the Middle East! That’s right up there with: crossing guard used to keep schoolchildren safe at busy intersection.

So I was really pleased when I read Talking Points Memo yesterday, Bobby Jindal Drops Out of 2016 Republican Race. He said, “This is not my time.” And I understand: this too is on par with the crossing guard story. But at least I haven’t read it fifty times this week. And it is nice to see more people drop out of the Republican nominating contest. It’s not because I think it will make it more serious. Jindal is no more crazy than the rest of them. But getting down to a reasonable number of candidates is a good thing.

No one is surprised, of course. In fact, FARK’s headline was, Bobby Jindal Was Running for President? But it is much more than that. Back in January, The Onion published, Bobby Jindal Not Sure He Willing to Put Family Through 2-Month Presidential Campaign. They only got the timing wrong. Jindal stayed in the race for almost five months! But they were quite right that he wasn’t going to come anywhere near to the actual Iowa Caucus:

“If I were to declare my candidacy this June, I’d immediately have to head out on the campaign trail and would likely be apart from my family for as much as half the summer — that’s a sacrifice I really have to think about,” Jindal said of a potential bid for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. “We’re talking four, maybe five big town hall events in the early primary states, a handful of public rallies, and a few Sundays spent at meet-and-greets with local voters. That’s multiple weekends on the road, and I’m not sure it would be fair to my kids.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what Jindal did with the extra couple of months. And I’m not too sure of what any of them are doing. I would think they would be in Iowa and New Hampshire just going door to door. It seems to me that politicians have gotten really lazy. If they aren’t talking to big crowds or on the television, they don’t seem to care. If the debates (at least on the Republican side) are what passes for campaigns, then we are in serious trouble. Because the candidates are at their worst under those circumstances. I dread seeing them all pounding their chests about Paris at the next debate.

As for why Jindal has dropped out and why he was never going to be the Republican nominee, I think I have the answer. It’s something like the uncanny valley in robotics. The idea is that we like robots that don’t look like us; they are cute or charming. And we are fine with robots that look just like us. But robots that look almost like us give us the creeps. In Jindal’s case, he wasn’t dark enough to make Republicans feel good about how non-racist they are. Just the same, he was way too dark to be white. So he was in the uncanny valley where his skin color and cultural background didn’t help him.

I know this probably sounds like I’m joking, but I am most certainly not. If Bobby Jindal looked more like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio — men who are quite literally LINOs: Latino In Name Only — then he might have had a chance. He would have done even better if he were African American, where all Republicans demand is that the candidate tell them that they are right to hate all “those kind” of black people. But a Hindu turned Catholic who was governor of a state with lots of French names? He’s more Secretary of Labor material.

Anyway, it’s great news; now he can spend every weekend with his kids.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

8 thoughts on “Bobby Jindal: the Uncanny Valley of GOP Politics

  1. Presidential campaigns don’t give the candidate a chance to really go door to door. That is what volunteers are for. I mean they do sometimes try-I remember in the Howard Dean campaign, he showed up to do an in person rally at the headquarters and offered to spend a half hour calling people on our autodial system. He got one person who said he was lying and hung up on him. Which we all thought was hysterical because if you are spending your Friday afternoon in a campaign field office, you are probably going to find that funny.

    But for the most part, after a certain level the closest to door to door is the small house party that can have up to 200 people depending on the candidate and the space at the house. They are very typical-everyone stands around eating and gossiping for about an hour or so then there are candidate speeches for about a half hour until the main person who is usually a congressional or gubernatorial candidate speaks and then everyone leaves.

    There also is no press so the media rarely reports on it. Plus, I hate to say it but they are very boring. Even when I was running for office I spent most of my time cleaning up so at least the hosts liked having me around.

    • I just figured Iowa + caucus = couple thousand people. Regardless, I didn’t mean that literally. The big reason for having Iowa and New Hampshire is that they are small states that allow small candidates to compete. But I guess even since TV, nothing is local.

      • Not for a Presidential campaign at any rate. I do know that the Clinton campaign has been having her go to small events in Iowa and New Hampshire without it costing an arm and a leg plus your first born since one of the attendees was interviewed afterwards.

        But I think the main reason we have Iowa and New Hampshire as the two first in the nation is because they throw the biggest fits if there is any attempt to move to a much more sensible state to start with. I don’t know how involved you were with the intraparty fight in 2004 but it was pretty ugly.

        • I do remember something about that. I would like to see a better system. Just the same, I’m not sure it is a good idea to have California or Texas be first. And I don’t like a rotating system because that just makes it random. On the other hand, if Washington were the first state for Democrats, that would probably make a lot of sense. Make South Carolina be first for Republicans. Actually, I’m not saying those two states in particular, but we could have a collection of smaller states that are ideologically similar to their parties. Then rotating would be fair and not random.

          Of course, there are so many problems with our system. I don’t like the electoral college and I don’t like first past the post. And I could go on and on before I got to the Iowa and New Hampshire issue.

          • I would have been okay with it as well however Iowa and New Hampshire use it to get billions from Congress since there is little else to give them power enough to get that kind of scratch.

            I agree there are a few gazillion things wrong with our system that need to be fixed first. However it will not be fixed today so instead I will just try to spin two sentences into a two page paper.

            • True. Farm bill, for example. Although I’m more concerned that Republicans now think we should give more money to farmers and less (or no) money to poor families who pay more for food because of price floors.

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