Bad for Jindal, Good for Romney (and Palin, and Huckabee)

Even Fox News panned it, but at least a handful of Republicans had to be delighted by the Mister Rogers/Kenneth the Page impersonation that Bobby Jindal performed on national television the other night: his fellow 2012 aspirants.

A rising star in the national Republican Party since his near-miss Louisiana gubernatorial bid in 2003, Jindal’s moment in the national sun was supposed to mark his coming out as a national figure—and serious contender to lead his party in the next presidential election.

But he flopped miserably, delivering what surely ranks as the single-most disastrous response to a presidential address ever delivered. The scathing reviews were made worse by the high expectations that preceded Jindal’s speech—that couldn’t have been the brilliant, charismatic Brown/Oxford-educated leader we’d been hearing about, viewers had to be saying. Worse still for Jindal, his performance came in the YouTube era, ensuring that his awkward gait, odd smile, and children’s-story-hour tone will seem fresh even three years from now.

At the very least, the Jindal debacle means that the youthful governor missed a golden opportunity to insert himself into the top tier of an unusually fluid and formless G.O.P. field.

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