So, this morning I was listening to my local morning radio program, and a caller compared Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sing-songy delivery of the Republican response last night to Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) from 30 Rock (the two also appear to have the same barber). That’s probably a little unkind to Jindal, but it’s also pretty accurate if you listen to them.
Jindal has a problem if he wants to be president, because he’s a smart guy, but nerdy in a way that I’m not sure appeals to the red meat Republican crowd. Obama can be pretty nerdy as well, but his nerdiness works a little better with his demographic, who are eating up the Al Gore/Will Smith mash-up vibe.
But even though the consensus seems to be that Jindal’s performance was less than stellar, I still think he’s a comer. Obama is an outstanding orator—no way anyone was going to top him last night. But he’s also benefited from being in front of a national audience for more than two years. Give him some time and Jindal will sound stronger, more like he did this morning on the Today show than he did last night. Compare that to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who did a pretty good job last year responding to Bush’s last SOTU—she’s probably already almost reached the ceiling on how good she can be on a regular basis.
It was wise that Obama didn’t give Jindal much material to crack back on, but he should start studying up on Jindal. It’s pretty easy to visualize these two guys on stage together for a debate four years from now.
David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.