A portrait of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal hanging in his Baton Rouge office lit up the Twittersphere this week and had the governor’s office crying racism on Wednesday.
It all started when Lousiana blogger Lamar White, Jr. Tweeted this portrait:
That led to an accusation of “race-baiting” by Jindal chief of staff Kyle Plotkin, who pointed out that the portrait White Tweeted – a painting that hangs behind the reception desk in the governor’s office – was loaned by an unnamed Louisianan and is not Jindal’s official portrait.
“I am now going to retweet all the liberals who are trolling me and think that the Governor looks insufficiently brown in the painting,” Kyle posted.
That official rendering, by the way, looks like this:
That seemed to uncork a string of references to Jindal’s skin color in the version Mashable called “fan art.”
Jindal, frequently mentioned by politicos as a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination is of Indian descent and a vocal proponent of assimilation by immigrant groups. Just last month in London, he gave a high-profile speech saying he doesn’t believe in “hyphenated Americans.”
“My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans – not Indian-Americans,” Jindal said in January.
Tweeted @maitri: “What’s sadder? That Jindal was gifted whitewashed portrait or that he oked it?”
“Sweet Da Vinci….Lamar White Jr. has done gone and stirred it up again. It’s the ’50 Shades of Bobby J’ scandal,” Tweeted @DambalaAshe.
In the unrelenting back and forth, White groused, “I’m apparently a rotten racist for posting a picture of a painting that hangs prominently in Jindal’s office.”
It appeared Wednesday evening that Team Jindal would have the last word – for now.
Michael Reed, communication’s director to the governor, told POLITICO in an email:
“Liberals are fixated on race. An MSNBC commentator recently accused the Governor of ‘trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin,’ and now liberal bloggers are using a portrait painted and loaned to our office by a constituent to make the same point.”
“Liberalism has failed on policy and is bankrupt of ideas,” Reed continued. “But that is no excuse for race baiting.”