Remember when Bobby Jindal was the smartest guy ever to come out of Louisiana? When then-Gov. Mike Foster brought him forth as his wunderkind? When Jindalbot would rattle off facts and figures at 1,000 words per minute, like during Katrina?
That was adorable.
In just over a decade, though, he’s gone from “wonder child” to “wonder what the hell happened to him?”
In pop culture terms, he went from Doogie Howser to a lobotomized Alex Keaton. Or if you prefer an animated character-based metaphor, he’s gone from Mr. Peabody to Peter Griffin.
It’s almost as if Jindalbot has been reprogrammed to say the stupidest things a sitting governor — yes, even one from Louisiana — can say.
The guy who once said Republicans need to stop being the stupid party has done more than his fair share to change the letters GOP to WTF.
Whether he’s vehemently backing a “religious liberties” bill likely to bring to Louisiana a shit show similar to the one seen in Indiana, or informing Brits and CNN about Muslim-controlled “no-go zones” in Britain, or claiming in a USA Today editorial that Louisiana’s economy is “better than ever” at the same time the state faces a $1.6 billion shortfall, Jindal has been on a seemingly continuous stupid streak lately.
Yes, the guy who once said Republicans need to stop being the stupid party has done more than his fair share to change the letters GOP to WTF.
Yet, despite all that seemingly negative, stupid-sounding rhetoric, Jindalbot 2.0 is actually a prototype for the 2016 batch of tea party-type presidential candidates. He’s essentially the standard for the second generation of such “non-establishment” models rolling out of the GOP White House hopeful factory.
Allow me to explain.
The Republican “establishment” has a reputation for being rather erudite. Think William F. Buckley Jr., Pat Buchanan, Richard Nixon. Despite what you may think of their policies and their tactics, they (and their intellectual descendants) in the GOP were (and are) very smart.
More importantly, they weren’t afraid to sound smart. Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when intellect was seen as a desirable quality for leading the free world.
Then came the tea party revolution, and with it, the roiling anti-establishment movement. The overall tone of that movement has been to appeal to regular people who love America/hate Obama. Think Joe the Plumber. The messaging has been shaped to speak to “that guy”: a patriotic, Fox News-watching, blue-collar conservative who “wants his country back” from not only the godless, socialist, communist, Nazi Kenyan regime in the White House but also those in Congress who would dare negotiate and compromise with that America-destroying dictatorship.
At the risk of sounding condescending, “that guy” would not have been the target audience for Buckley’s Firing Line. Big words delivered with a trans-Atlantic accent and mannerisms worthy of Thurston Howell III wouldn’t resonate with “that guy.”
On a side note, I believe Buckley was Anthony Hopkins’ inspiration for his role as Hannibal Lecter.
Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when intellect was seen as a desirable quality for leading the free world.
Instead, the original tea party figureheads were people like Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The three of them together might have the brainpower of a ham sandwich. Herman Cain, another 2012 tea party darling who ran for president, best expressed the core philosophy of this first generation of tea party candidates when he said “We need a leader, not a reader.”
While Tea Party 1.0 models said things that sounded good to “that guy,” the obvious weakness of the “Leader, Not a Reader” guiding principle was exposed numerous times, like when Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin that notorious “gotcha” question, “What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read” or when Bachmann claimed the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation.
Of course, the coup de grâce came during a nationally televised debate when Gov. Rick Perry, of Texas, couldn’t remember the third federal government agency he’d eliminate as president. His infamous “Oops” was the hilarious death knell of Tea Party 1.0.
The non-establishment movement needed a new paradigm, an improved archetype, if it were to remain viable. It needed an upgraded prototype that could still say things that would appeal to “that guy” while possessing the capability to handle tough questions from the media, like “What do you read?”
Enter Tea Party 2.0 — the second wave of “outsider” Republicans rolling out of the GOP factory. These models are equipped with stronger core processors than Tea Party 1.0 units, but they’re programmed with algorithms designed to make the candidate say dumb shit that sounds good to “that guy.”
The 2016 Republican presidential hopeful field is quickly filling up with such models. The first to officially announce his candidacy for the White House was Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Cruz unit is incredibly smart, possessing a law degree from Harvard and a remarkable sense of intellectual superiority (he reportedly refused to study with grads from “minor Ivies” — like Penn or Brown — while at Harvard Law School). Yet the Cruz model deftly utters nonsensical things designed to appeal to tea party voters, like net neutrality is “Obamacare for the internet.”
The non-establishment movement needed an upgraded prototype that could still say things that would appeal to “that guy” while possessing the capability to handle tough questions from the media, like “What do you read?”
Next came the other Cuban-styled second-generation model, Marco Rubio, once dubbed the “crown prince” of the tea party. Despite his reputation for having more computing power than the 2012 tea party models, his programming prompted him to respond to a question about the age of the Earth with “I’m not a scientist, man.”
In fact, among the latest batch of rising stars in the Republican Party, “I’m not a scientist” is an extremely popular refrain when faced with tough questions about scientific issues, such as climate change, and overwhelming scientific evidence that disputes what “that guy” thinks. It’s not a cop-out. It’s a product of their programming. I’m sure somewhere deep in their brains they believe the scientific data, but their verbal control centers block them from verbally agreeing with it.
Speaking of brains, noted literal brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson recently threw his tinfoil hat into the 2016 presidential ring. And if you think the first person ever to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head couldn’t overcome his extremely high intelligence to be a hero to “that guy,” then you probably need to have your head examined.
Carson may have a wealth of medical knowledge in his CPU, but a political pandering subroutine enabled him to blame a measles outbreak in Southern California on undocumented workers rather than on the numerous unvaccinated American children and their anti-vaxxer parents.
And since even “that guy” would find a world-famous brain surgeon insisting he’s “not a scientist” utterly ridiculous, Carson doesn’t say it. Instead, he’s been programmed (all his life, in fact, by the Seventh-day Adventist Church) to outright say the Earth is 6,000 years old.
Looking at Tea Party 2.0 as a whole, it seems like the more a modern GOP candidate has a reputation for being really smart, the more that candidate says dumb shit, almost as though he’s trying to counteract his purported intelligence for the sake of scoring political points with “that guy.”
You have to be smart enough for “that guy” to think you’re bright enough to know what the hell you’re doing in office, but not so smart that “that guy” thinks you think you’re better than him.
Carson is arguably the smarty-pants of the bunch, ergo he says the dumbest shit of them all. Right behind Carson in the brains department is Jindal, which explains why Jindalbot is now Jindalbot 2.0 and spewing all the extraordinarily stupid crap he’s been saying lately. The trend continues with Cruz, Rubio, Rand Paul, and the rest of the intelligentsia of Tea Party 2.0.
There’s a definite balancing act to being a legitimate Tea Party 2.0 candidate. You have to be smart enough for “that guy” to think you’re bright enough to know what the hell you’re doing in office, but not so smart that “that guy” thinks you think you’re better than him. Sound a little too smart, and you’re labeled an elitist. Sound too dumb, and … well, you’re still a viable candidate even if you sound like a complete dumbass, at least through the first few primaries, or until the SNL skits lampooning you finally scuttle your campaign.
A couple of caveats about the upgraded tea party line. First, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is considered a TP 2.0 model, his processor’s computational abilities are suspect. Some people have said that, without a college degree, the Walker unit is lacking sufficient brainpower, as evidenced by the time he signed a letter to a local rabbi with the less-than-traditional Jewish salutation “Molotov.”
Also, it looks like the Rick Perry model is trying to flip the script by making another run for the GOP nomination after apparently undergoing a retrofitting since his nationally televised system crash in 2012. Perry’s new hipster glasses seem to indicate his computing power has been significantly boosted to help mitigate the chance of a similar meltdown.
However, even with the blogger spectacles, I’m skeptical about the Perry unit’s brainpower and processing speed. Therefore, unlike Jindalbot 2.0, I’m designating this particular model as the Rick Perry 1.5.
So, the next time you see Jindalbot 2.0 thumping a Bible and saying “our God wins” at a prayer rally organized by what the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group, just remember he’s working extra hard to overcome his impediment of being a Rhodes Scholar who graduated from Brown at the age of 20. Jindal may have gotten elected governor by being the smartest guy in the room, but the only chance he has at the GOP nomination is to be the dumbest guy in the race.