Jindal suffers from none of this baggage, despite the fact that neither of his parents was born in the United States, because he identifies strongly with both the conservative Catholic and American nationalist elements in the GOP. Even though Jindal came to Christianity as a convert just as Obama did, it is the kind of Christianity he embraced that makes a huge difference. His religion and nationalism together immunize him fairly well against any attacks or conspiracy theories of the kind that have been used against Obama. [...] Religious identity politics shields him from being regarded as “Other,” and among a significant number of Republicans his story of first-generation American assimilation and success is one of the main reasons why Jindal is so well-liked.
He has a point. After all, Sarah Palin - a female politician with an out-of-wedlock grandchild - was hailed by traditionalist Christians because they saw her as one of their own. Colin Powell was beloved by the Limbaugh right until he crossed the aisle to endorse Obama. Clarence Thomas's loyalty to movement conservatism is returned in kind. And PUMAs never became a consequential force. Perhaps partisanship - especially when it has morphed into a cultural, regional and religious identity as with the Rovian GOP - really is the strongest identity politics of all.
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