The State of the Union doesn’t quite fall on Groundhog Day, but it might feel that way to former Gov. Bobby Jindal. Every year around this time, it seems, Jindal’s name gets dragged out of the dustbins of history and propped up as a cautionary tale.
This year it’s Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and possible future Senate contestant, who’s being cautioned. Abrams lost a close, contentious race last fall but emerged as a rising Democratic star, which is why she’s been chosen to deliver the party’s response to President Donald Trump’s delayed State of the Union speech next Tuesday.
Jindal knows all about that phenomenon. Ten years ago, he was the one picked to answer Barack Obama’s first address to Congress, but his speech prompted comparisons not to the charismatic new president but to the cloying, desperate-to-please Kenneth the Page character on "30 Rock."
There have been other big misses since, including from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who reached out of the camera’s frame for some water in the middle of his big moment. More recently, the image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer crammed behind a single podium as they answered Trump’s recent Oval Office address was widely mocked.
But Jindal’s talk remains the gold standard for high-profile belly flops, and may well be what most Americans remember most about him, if they remember much at all. He’s one reason the gig is widely considered high risk but low reward.
Abrams’ well-wishers might tell her that it’s better to be forgettable than to suffer the same fate.