In the proudly amoral Yakety Sax echo chamber of American electoral politics—particularly among the Republican candidates, though the spineless hacks on the other side of the color spectrum offer no shortage of buffoonery either—it’s become something of a challenge to stand out from the herd. Who can hear anything over the bleating and braying of two dozen also-rans and the smug self-assuredness of Jeb Bush’s campaign fund and Donald Trump’s trite “Eric Cartman in an oversized Mexican-made suit jacket” act? But it would be absolute folly to overlook one of the most bizarre and repulsive political figures we’ve seen since Herman Cain ruined The Power of One for the rest of us: Bobby Jindal.
I loathe Bobby Jindal. I full-on, one-hundred-percent, no-holds-barred despise him. Not just as a leftist, not just as a reasonably functional human being, but especially as a South Asian. Bobby Jindal is like—how do I describe this fecal homunculus?—he’s the guy at your preliminary union-forming meeting at Applebee’s who says “Aw, come on guys, the boss isn’t that bad!” and is the only employee exempt from the mass firing on Monday. Sixty years ago, he would have happily presided over the execution of his entire family if it meant General Mountbatten might make eye contact with him. He is the protagonist of a hundred “ethnic lit” novels who, as a child, angrily rejects anything associated with his parents’ culture in order to fit in with his white classmates—except he’s 44. He is Dinesh D’Souza but less literate and with a drawl like Tom Hanks in The Green Mile. He is a recalcitrant piece of shit and ought to be buried in the Punjab just so I can watch the ground physically reject his body and launch it right back to Louisiana. Only a swamp would be good enough for the likes of Bobby.
My disgust stems in large part from his interminable quest to join the ranks of Louisiana’s largest export (leathery white men). This is not a desire he’s shied away from publicly stating, which makes him somehow all the more loathsome.
“We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few. Here’s an idea: How about just ‘Americans?’ That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me,” said the spiritual successor to Mir Jafar in a widely publicized 2013 op-ed, ignoring the fact that no one had asked him. He later doubled down to add that he was “sick of hyphenated Americans.” Act whiter, so his wisdom holds, and racism will disappear! Of course, his abysmal unpopularity in his own Louisiana as well as on the presidential stage only reinforces what those of us without shrines to Charlton Heston above our dressers have been saying for years: They’re never going to let you into their club, Piyush.
Speaking of—there’s the name thing. I’m all for people changing their birth names if they feel they no longer identify with them or never did—but let’s look at the bigger picture here. Jindal’s name-change mirrors that of sometime Tea Party favorite and fellow Christian convert Nikki Haley, née Nimrata Randhawa. Jindal named himself “Bobby” after the most All-American, bowl-cutted dink of a child to ever grace American television sets—Bobby Brady. Let me repeat that. The one fictional character who affected his life so much that he’s used that character’s name for three decades was the goddamn hall monitor from The Brady Bunch. The jokes write themselves.
Assimilationism is something that’s become more and more common in South Asian-American communities, and it has its merits for those of us who grew up dodging racial epithets, at least as a stopgap measure until we can leave our small towns, or high schools, or service jobs. But Jindal is a man who has always been very much in control of his own image. He is a multimillionaire, a former university president, a Rhodes Scholar. He has no need to downplay his heritage, given his lot in life—he’s made the active choice to spray suspiciously white-colored sewage all over it. Because that is what gets you places in the GOP, but also because he genuinely believes American culture—whatever that is—is superior to South Asian culture. He is a craven, sycophantic quisling and I have no sympathy for him or his Nic-Cage-plays-a-trucker haircut.
Aside from his naked worship of white supremacy, Jindal’s stances on “the issues” are pretty standard Tea Party fare, albeit with a “doth protest too much” jolt of typical Jindal zealotry. Same-sex marriage disgusts him, he’s rabidly pro-death penalty and anti-abortion, he wants to remove the Miranda rights of accused terrorists, he wants a fence around the Mexican border—the whole gamut of opinions that, on their own, are abjectly horrifying to anyone with even a semblance of a conscience, but when taken as a cohesive unit, just mark an American politician as “one of those.” For Jindal, the absurd becomes commonplace, and his presidential “campaign” reflects that—every moment, from his strange, amateur-porno-style hidden-camera campaign announcement to his inability to muster up the oomph necessary to be included in the first primary debate, has been completely surreal.
His latest assault on the vaunted dignity of the American people comes in the form of a BuzzFeed-sponsored video—simultaneously the weirdest stunt I can imagine and also the most appropriate. This particularly odious bit of “journalism” opens with an extremely self-conscious announcer (think the Mortal Kombat announcer after two blunts and a bag of Doritos) growling “GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL,” and, well, that’s the high point of the video. Jindal does his best to appear human, smiling his leering-clown smile and mechanically waving his fists at the camera next to a lineup of bored-looking interns, but the most human thing about Bobby, as always, is his capacity for failure—even in his own strange promotional video, which inexplicably features him engaging in a push-up competition, his candy-cane tie slapping the mat every few seconds, he still manages to fuck up and lose to one of the BuzzFeed employees. They play this off by saying “the winner was America.” Indeed. The only way America could win any more than that would be if, you know, Bobby Jindal was strapped to a Lockheed Martin missile hurtling directly into the reinforced glass windows of BuzzFeed’s 5th Avenue office. But other than that, yeah, totally.
So the question becomes, I suppose, what do we do about this? How do we stop this lone horseman of the GOPocalypse? Well….there’s nothing we can do, really, nor does anyone have to. Bobby Jindal is a book that’s already been written. He would lose his gubernatorial reelection bid if he wasn’t term-limited, he will certainly lose his ill-conceived presidential campaign, and we can pray to God (the Judeo-Christian God, don’t worry, Piyush) that he will lose every ounce of the absolute fucking hubris and lack of self-awareness that made him believe he could ever place himself into the public eye without drowning in the unending tsunami of ridicule he so richly deserves. It won’t happen, of course, but in the useless, gutless words of Governor Jindal in response to the racist mass shooting in Charleston this June, “now’s the time to be praying.”
Art by TN.