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|Jindal for veep in 2012?|
Bobby Jindal is half-way through his first term as governor and national conservatives are clamoring again to tap him for the Republican presidential ticket.
Never-mind that Jindal has said repeatedly that he isn't interested in running for president in 2012. Pundits aren't phased by what politicians say - they are politicians, after all.
For some, Jindal denying he wants to be the Republican standard barrier in the next presidential election doesn't mean that his name won't be at least be found beneath the name of some future Republican nominee on yet to be printed bumper stickers.
Consider this recent diversion into Republican election Elysium by Newsweek blogger, Andrew Romano:
"Throughout 2010 and 2011, Jindal avoids the national spotlight, thereby quelling the persistent rumors back home in Louisiana that running the state is not his top priority and ensuring his reelection. Meanwhile, he travels to GOP fundraisers quite regularly now ostensibly for his reelection bid and makes as many friends as possible. In the winter or spring of 2012, the Republican Party finally selects its new presidential nominee, who is, given the field, probably a white, middle-aged, rather old-fashioned man. The new nominee then turns to Jindal, who has realized that with Louisiana's crushing budget shortfall, it's impossible to rack up the sort of accomplishments he racked up during his first term (ethics reform, tax cuts, a workforce-development program), and asks him to serve his party and his country as the GOP's vice presidential nominee instead. Unable to pass up this 'once in a lifetime' opportunity, Jindal happily accepts, providing the Republican ticket with exactly the sort of modern, multicultural appeal it needs to compete with Obama, and exactly the sort of pragmatic conservative credentials that will attract voters turned off by four years of Democratic rule."
"If the GOP loses in November, Jindal, now a figure of national prominence, returns to Baton Rouge, serves out his second term and assumes his new place (in a party that almost always revives its previous standard bearers) as the next Republican in line. And if the GOP marches to victory, well ... he becomes the youngest vice president ever.
Is it just me or is all this fuss over Jindal a little reminiscent of the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarding President Obama the Noble Peace Prize last year before, well, he did anything worthy of the prize.
Speculation about Jindal in the 2012 presidential election is starting to remind me of what I disliked most about the 2008 presidential election.
In 2008, it wasn't about what the candidates would do, it was about who they were. The narrative took precedent over policy and that's the reason I didn't vote for Barrack Obama or John McCain in 2008.
Oh, I voted. I did so in protest for another candidate on the presidential ballot who didn't have prayer of winning. Some might say my vote was wasted, but if I didn't like either front-runner was it really?
Let's consider Obama's narrative in 2008. He was the first black man to be nominated as president by a major political party. While that's impressive, it wasn't enough for me to think he would make a good president. He promised to turn the economy around and protect us from terrorists. Instead, unemployment has risen during his first year in office to 10 percent and we recently, thanks to some courageous passengers, narrowly escaped having an inbound jet liner blown out of the sky on Christmas.
So would McCain have been a better president? I'm not sure. As in Obama's case, it wasn't about what he would do, it was about who he was. McCain is a war hero. He deserved, and still deserves, respect and accolades for his service. That doesn't mean, however, he deserved the presidency.
When you look at it, his policies weren't all that better than Obama's, despite the "R" after his name that appears on the bottom of TV screens when he's on CNN.
Both men favored the Wall Street bailout and economic stimulus spending that has sunk our country deeper in debt. McCain has recently railed against Obama's health care plan, but are we to believe the plan he offered in 2008 that would have eliminated tax breaks for employers who subsidize employee health care would have fixed our country's health care problems? McCain might have been better on defense, but it was hard for me to take anyone seriously who talks about protecting our country from foreign threats who has historically been so lax on illegal immigrants crossing our borders.
These are just a few things Obama and McCain were both wrong about in 2008, but none of this is to rehash the last presidential election.
It's just to remind us, especially those of us in Louisiana, not to get sucked into the narrative of Jindal if he runs for national office in 2012.
It would be cool to say Louisiana finally was able to produce a governor that made it to the White House. That's never happened before and I don't need any historians writing me to remind me of Zachary Taylor. He was really from Virginia and, after all, most people today hearing the name would guess he was the love child of Zac Efron and Taylor Swift.
Huey Long might have made it to the White House or might have not have. We all know what happened to the Kingfish.
It might also be nice to elect the first Indian-American president, which the Republicans could tout to prove to the world that they aren't just a party of stuffy white guys, but I really don't care.
Remember, Jindal was vetted as McCain's veep choice during his first year as Louisiana's governor, but wisely said he wasn't interested.
All of this is not to knock Jindal. Heck, he might turn out to be just what the country needs, but we just can't say at this point.
He still has a lot of work to do here in Louisiana and much of what he has done over the last two years has upset his conservative base - the very people he will need if he were to run for a national office. This fact is often ignored by national Republicans who think he is the greatest thing since sliced Reagan.
Radio talk show host Moon Griffon, miffed by Jindal's slow conversion to nixing the Steely tax and lack of teeth in his ethic reform laws, has gone so far as to call Jindal a "tax and spend liberal."
It also bugs Griffon that Jindal has spent so much time on the national stage instead of back home working on problems in the Bayou State.
Jindal's jet-setting across the country has helped fuel rumors of national aspirations, but stoked fires of discontent here in Louisiana.
He has been able to abate conservative criticism some by recent budget cuts to help the state close a $248 million spending shortfall in the current-year state budget and by his opposition to raising taxes.
While Louisiana unemployment is rising slower than the national average, it's still rising and a $2 billion deficit is still looming over Louisiana.
It won't be long before Jindal will have to defend his record as he revs up for reelection as governor in 2011.
You can bet both Democrats and Republican will be holding his feet to the fire during the second half of his first term. If he lives up to his oft repeated promise to bring Louisiana to the "top of the good lists instead of the bottom", I'm sure a lot of people in Louisiana will be proud to someday cheer him to victory on the national stage if he decides to take that route.
The jury is still out, however, despite stars in the eyes of national Republicans who would like to see him play a part in retaking the White House from the Democrats.