Quick Thought — Bobby Jindal Will Never Be President

Again, this is why I hate politics. Now, I know little about Jindal personally, and not being from Louisiana, don’t know how good of a president he’ll make. I’ve really only seen him on TV for a very short time, in response to Obama’s non-SOTU speech.

But I was immediately struck with the same sort of vibe I get from watching a Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, or to a lesser extent, Ron Paul type. It didn’t take long. I didn’t watch for more than a few minutes, but it was as clear as watching one of Pelosi’s responses to Bush’s SOTU speeches. It was a forgotten address before Jindal even stopped speaking.

There is a level to which candidates need charisma to succeed. Reagan, Clinton, and Obama have it in spades. Both Bushes 41 and 43 had a little bit of it, but by far had more than Dukakis, Gore, or Kerry. Bobby Jindal doesn’t have any of it.

It’s a sad statement on politics, but even if he had the best and most impressive ideological beliefs of any person in the country, he simply won’t be President, because he can’t own the stage.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis



    I’m no Jindal fan but I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that this is end of his political career.

    I will ask everyone to remember a certain young Democratic Governor who gave a widely-panned speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1988. He was also seen as the young hope of the future, but his delivery was bad and he was unable to capture the attention of even the partisan crowd on the convention floor.

    His name ?

    William Jefferson Clinton.

    Jindal is young. He’s 37 years old. He’s already said he’s not interested in running for 2012 and, frankly, he’d be smart to avoid running that year anyway.

    I think we still might be hearing from him in the future.

  • Gabe N TX

    I think its this mentality that gets us into trouble in the first place. As true as it is, I wish this weren’t the case. When we as a people finally believe smart is sexy is when we’ll all be free-er, happier, and more wealthy. Hard as it is (and I know it is) we’ve got to realize that good decisions about the economy, foreign policy, and domestic issues comes from the mind and not your celebrity. I’m a republican and will never again vote for another “republican” that promises all that “republicans” promise, but deliver more govt instead of less. Jindal didn’t gain any fans with that speech and that’s what they were counting on.

  • Miko

    Jindal wants to delegalize abortion, ban same sex marriage, teach “intelligent design” in public schools, ban flag burning, make the PATRIOT Act permanent, implement REAL ID, and has a terrible record on earmarks. But–you might object–his opposition to the “stimulus” package is so strong that he’s only accepting 3.7 billion of the 3.8 billion dollars offered to his state. True, but that’s hardly enough to make him the kind of politician that a libertarian should support.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis


    I said I wasn’t a Jindal fan.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis


    Ideas are great but without the ability to communicate them to the public, you’ve got nothing.

    Reagan wasn’t called The Great Communicator for nothing.

  • finances

    “Reagan, Clinton, and Obama have it in spades. Both Bushes 41 and 43 had a little bit of it, but by far had more than Dukakis, Gore, or Kerry.”

    All of these people were put into the running by the power elite. The “charisma” is sort of a dumbed down notion when you’re talking about running for the head Voodoo Doll Of The Masses(POTUS).

    I’d ask you, do you really think everything Obama is selling is anything of his own design? Same question, insert Clinton, Bush I or II?

    The modern POTUS position is only there for you and the world to pin their identity, frustration, fear, and joy onto. The last real POTUS we had was JFK. That’s not to say JFK was so great, he was only the last POTUS who actually believed any of his own words, and acted as much as possible of his own volition. You could also count Nixon in a very minor way, but mainly he was just a drunk mess.

    To sum up, if the power elite has interest in making Jindal a contender, it’s a done deal. The ball doesn’t get rolling at this stage by what the American people consider charisma. And no that’s not saying Jindal is so great, either.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany


    Perhaps “never” is too strong of a term, perhaps it should be “This Bobby Jindal” who won’t become President… If he changes, he might have a shot — but it will take a major overhaul from what I saw on Tuesday night.

  • B. Fisher

    Charismatic or not he’s certainly far from being a friend to liberty. The Republican party has gone from treading water, to waving their hands frantically… and now the dead man’s float.

  • mst3000jay

    Ralph Nader speaks with passion, listen to him speak. . . he speaks on target, tells it like it is, and doesn’t water down what needs to be done to fix this country.

    I think it is wrong you put him on this list

  • Al Hidalgo

    Doug: Um…comparing Jindal to Kucinich> Are you high? I don’t care what your opinion is of “charisma,” (though I find Dennis to be very charismatic and inspiration—go back to several of the 2008 Presidential debates—you can see them all on YouTube—and ask yourself who up there gave the most compelling arguments and had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand…!). But there is an incredible huge gap between Jindal and Kucinich when it comes to pure intelligence and logic. Good grief!, You need to do your homework and quit being so blindly biased.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis


    That wasn’t me who made that comparison, it was Brad, and he was speaking of his personal opinion of the (lack of) charisma that Jindal displayed in the speech and comparing to similarly non-charismatic politicians like Kucnich, Paul, and Nader.

    Personally, I think Kucinich is on a completely different planet from the rest of us — but I think that Brad broader point is correct.

    Jindal bombed on Tuesday. He’s not dead, but he’s got work to do if he wants to run for President in 2016, 2020, or 2024.

  • Dayana Martinez-Pena

    Jindal’s response to Obama’s speech will have absolutely no effect on his political career. How many people remember even one opposition response to a president’s speech?

    After four years of Obama’s extreme liberalism, people will be looking for alternative. While people are losing jobs in 49 states, only Bobby Jindal in Louisiana has created jobs in the last year. While Obama has charisma and style, Jindal offers real substance as a leader.

    Oh, and to Miko, Jindal does not support REAL ID. As a congressman, he was part of the Republican group who opposed it.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany


    In order to be elected in America, a person has to have “charisma”. The actual definition is the sort of personality that people generally think associated with leadership or charm. It’s a personality trait, which is far different than intelligence or ideology, but it’s the main method by which most Americans actually relate to a candidate.

    There are many terms for it… Seeming “presidential”, or having “gravitas”. In some cases (like 2000), it’s “who I’d like to have a beer with” — I can tell you I’d rather have a beer with Bush than with Gore or Kerry, and I’d probably rather have one with Obama than McCain. But in all respects, it’s a personality characteristic rather than really describing how someone will govern.

    It’s a knee-jerk reaction based on a relatively small data point, but I immediately got the opposite reaction to Jindal. He seemed dry, boring, and a “policy wonk” — and this coming from someone who’s a bit of a policy wonk myself. He simply didn’t seem “Presidential”, and that’s not a criticism of him, but rather a statement about our electoral process.

  • Akston

    I am sad to have to agree here. The fact that I tend to prefer candidates based on their philosophy, consistency, and ethics-under-fire does not mean that those are the criteria used by everyone else.

    Many (probably a large majority of people) evaluate potential leaders mostly on charisma. People who lead small groups usually know how to “work a room”. Part of the job requirement for an aspiring president is to be able to “work a nation”. (We’re currently getting worked pretty well) ;-)

    Other qualities add into the mix as well. Height can be one. It reminds me of the quote by Franklin on Washington: “He’s always the tallest man in the room. He’s bound to lead something someday.”

    Voice is another. Males with deeper tones tend to have more effect than higher pitched voices. Deep tones also subliminally convey comfort and certainty, whereas high tones tend to convey the opposite.

    I see it as similar to the way so many people tend to choose a car by the color.

    Perhaps meeting aesthetic requirements is enough to satisfy some folks. It can be much easier to stop there than to delve into probable directions that leader might pick.

  • Tannim

    While B.O.’s speech was typical P.U. in all delivery and no substance, Governor Apu’s reply left me looking for the nearest Squishy machine.

    If he’s the future of the GOP, then the GOP is in bigger trouble than everyone thinks.

    Maybe they’ll get smart and have Dr. Paul give the response next time.

  • Akston

    Maybe they’ll get smart and have Dr. Paul give the response next time.

    I’d love to see that, but it’ll never happen, for the reasons listed above.

    Congressman Paul is just the cranky old guy whose tones aren’t mellifluous enough. He doesn’t come across as dashing and hopeful. He doesn’t tell jokes well. He always votes based on principle, even when it’s obviously not popular. He clearly describes truths we don’t want to hear. He “set brushfires of freedom in men’s minds”, enticing new members and money to a party determined to die. His silly Austrian Economics predicted the current economic conditions years in advance. And he advocates doing things for yourself without resorting to accepting stolen goods. Who wants that??

    He doesn’t have the kind of charisma that makes for an impassioned respondent or presidential candidate.

    He’s just right.

  • http:hathor-sekhmet.blogspot.com VRB

    What people used to do, would be to take lessons in speech and oratory. Learning how to give a speech, controlling their breathing and the pitch of their voice, very much like singers. It was considered important for the professional.

  • http://www.thecurvystraights.ws Matt

    Unfortunately, we have a society that worships image and personality over substance.

    This is why the people are attracted to Obama and not Nader, just as an example.

    Though Nader is highly principled, and very strong in his idealism, and has a lot of really progressive ideas, he doesn’t get a whole lot of traction when the country is is obsessed instead with a great orator who has this huge, built-up personality. The political process becomes more of an exercise in celebrity theater. Among Dems and Repubs alike, big personalities dominate the stage. Even John McCain has a very entertaining and colorful personality.

    It’s this idea of celebrity, and our infatuation with personality that has stopped us from electing leaders out of agreeance with principles and ideals, which ought to be the exact reason we do vote for people.

    Well, that and that the danger of electing a Republican causes people to vote Democrat out of fear, but that’s a whole different side of the issue.

  • oilnwater

    WELL said Matt! Best Post of 2009 here.