Thu, 08 Feb 2007
I grew up in an assimilationist immigrant family. My paternal grandfather came to the US because he was from a tiny village in the mountains of Southern Greece. His family had more goats than prospects so he left. He made it big in America and my late father never tired of telling me stories about his plucky hustler of a father. In short I should find the saga of Piyush (Bobby) Jindal to be inspiring. I don’t. Piyush is the classic immigrant striver. They used to call his kind of chap an Eager Beaver. Harold Lloyd played one in his classic silent film comedies. A working class boy struggling to reach the top. Climb Harold climb.
The fictional eager beaver who Bobby Jindal most resembles is Eddie Haskell of the elderly but endlessly rerun sitcom Leave It To Beaver. Eddie was a smart ass bully when dealing with those weaker and younger than him but he was a smarmy ass kisser around the grown-ups. He was forever telling June Cleaver how lovely she looked in her poodle skirt and apron. Jindal strikes me as a classic know it all Eddie Haskell kiss up and kick down kind of guy.
The Eddie Haskell factor as much as his ethnicity cost Jindal the 2003 Governor’s race. He came off as a smirking smart alec who was always eager to tell you how smart and accomplished he was. In contrast Meemaw was maternal and patient. Her pleasant personality trumped his ability to speak in complete sentences. Piyush also made some rather astonishing claims about how he turned the state health care system around. If that’s the case why did it suffer an immediate relapse after he skedaddled off to his next job?
Jindal is a classic job hopper. He’s always got his resume updated and is eager to move on. That’s been his pattern. He’s only been in the House for a few years and he’s ready to change jobs already. Does he have the stick-to-itiveness that being Governor post-K requires? His track record indicates otherwise. Will he run against Mary Landrieu in 2008? Or does he want to be the first Indian-American (dots not feathers as my friend Maitri once said) to be on a national ticket? Is he willing to commit to serving a full 4 year term as Governor? Of course he could do so and cross his fingers behind his back. That’s what Eddie Haskell would do. Right Sam? Heh heh heh…
Past generations of Louisiana pols considered the Governorship to be the cat’s ass. I knew Congressman Gillis Long quite well. He was one of the most powerful members of the House in the Seventies and Eighties but he considered making a third run for the Governorship in 1979. Why? It was the ultimate job for a Louisiana politician. He decided not to run. His publicly stated reason was poor health and that *was* one of the reasons. But he told me that the primary reason was that he couldn’t stand the thought of asking the same people for money again. I somehow doubt that such a thought would cross Hustler Piyush’s mind. He’s always looking for the main chance. Just like Eddie Haskell.
The thing that strikes me about Bobby Jindal is that his political philosophy is the product of coming of age in ultra Conservative Baton Rouge. He was able as a young man to latch onto Big Daddy Mike Foster and ride his coattails into high appointed office. If Jindal had grown up in Massachusetts he’d be a liberal Democrat. It’s all about the hustle for Jindal. Being a Conservative Repub was his way to rise in the Gret Stet and Jindal always keeps his eye on the prize. But this is essentially a nation of hustlers so it may well be Jindal’s time. Climb Bobby climb.
It will be very interesting to see if Jindal can hold the huge lead he has currently. I’m not sure if voter’s remorse will trump the Eddie Haskell Factor but it will be fun to watch. Louisiana politics are more fun than either a barrel of monkeys or a ferret down your trousers. Btw Editor B thinks the latter is quite amusing. Consider the source: he’s a man who recommends menudo and pickled herring as hangover cures…