Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal finally got another shot on Thursday to deliver a formal response to President Barack Obama’s vision for the country.
In 2009, Jindal was nearly laughed off the national stage when he delivered the official Republican response to Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress. Jindal’s “response,” consisting of restrained rhetoric spoken awkwardly into a single camera, was universally panned as a dud. Some even called it a career killer.
Flash forward to 2013: Obama has been re-elected to his second term as president. At his inauguration ceremony, he delivers one of the most ambitious defenses of liberalism from an American president in modern history. With Mitt Romney out of the picture and the Republican Party in temporary post-election disarray, Jindal sees an opportunity for redemption and to position himself as the alpha in the party.
The circumstances seem perfect for a politician who harbors national ambitions. His venue is the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee, where the top party activists from every American state and territory have gathered to chart the GOP’s next move. They’re nervous about the party’s future and worried about their ability to bring minorities into the fold. They’re looking for a leader. Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, sees a chance to make an early impression on the party faithful, and boldly calls for change.
“We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults,” he said. “We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.”