On his big night, Jindal falls flat

The Louisiana governor was tapped to give the GOP response to Obama because he's a rising star in his party, but that wasn't enough.

Published February 25, 2009 4:00AM (EST)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is one of his party's great hopes, enough so that he's often termed the Republicans' Obama. (Jindal's ethnicity doesn't hurt there, of course.) Tuesday night, though, he showed that he has a ways to go before he really deserves those comparisons.

Jindal's speech, as prepared, wasn't bad, though it wasn't great -- for a guy who's supposed to represent the new face of the GOP, the governor sure repeated a whole lot of very familiar messaging. But in his delivery, Jindal fell flat.

Anyone tapped to respond to President Obama's address to Congress would have had a difficult task ahead of them. Viewership typically drops after the main event is over, and on any night like this the president has a real home field advantage, if only because he gets to look presidential and stand in front of the country as its leader. And, of course, it's even more difficult when you're responding to someone who has Obama's skill at delivering a speech.

So yes, it was a hard task, but Jindal didn't even come close to succeeding. He looked young and amateurish. His delivery was unprofessional: He spoke entirely too rapidly, something a speech coach would work on in the first lesson. His tone and mannerisms were less presidential than they were something you'd see in an infomercial, and he seemed to be talking down to the viewing public.

This was not a good start to Jindal 2012.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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