Whom should Romney pick to run with him? Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, Condi Rice, John Thune, Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez, and Kelly Ayotte are names that keep popping up. But the best choice might be Bobby Jindal, who is serving his second term as governor of Louisiana. Notably, Governor Jindal has been successful as a governor and as a political leader in Louisiana.
Jindal just turned forty-one, which would make him one of the youngest people ever to run for vice president. His youth also means that if Romney wins and is re-elected, in 2020, Vice President Jindal would be a boyish 49-year-old who could win the nomination without much party division. At the same time, though, despite his youth, Jindal has a résumé of breathtaking brilliance. In fact, if put on the ticket, Bobby Jindal might be the most intellectually gifted person ever nominated to national office. He had offers to work in the private sector and doubtless become very rich, but he chose public service instead.
Critically, Jindal's particular area of expertise is medicine and public health. He has served in the latter sector with distinction. In 1996, then-24-year-old Jindal was named secretary of health and hospitals for the State of Louisiana. Three years later, the 27-year-old Jindal was made executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. In 2001, Jindal, then thirty years old, was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as assistant secretary of health and human services for planning and evaluation. No politician in America has a stronger background from which to attack ObamaCare than Jindal has.
Aside from experience as an analyst and administrator of public health systems, Jindal also has served two terms in Congress and is in his second term as governor of Louisiana. Louisiana has had the most corrupt government in America, but the Jindal administration has been remarkably clean. His executive brilliance as governor stands in stark contrast to our hapless president. The bond rating for Louisiana state bonds has risen under his leadership -- an accomplishment even the Democrat media in the state acknowledged, in stark contrast to what has happened to other states' bond ratings or our federal bond rating.
In 2008, when Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana, Jindal's aggressive actions on behalf of Louisianans received broad bipartisan praise, and Jindal was noted as behaving much more competently than Governor Blanco or Mayor Nagin when Hurricane Katrina hit the state. Jindal also placed concern for his citizens above political plums: he was scheduled, when the hurricane hit, to address the Republican National Convention, but he chose to place the duties of his office above a chance to make a national speech.
More pointedly, when the BP oil spill occurred, Jindal moved very quickly to protect the citizens of Louisiana, and he did an excellent job by everyone's account. The reaction of Obama in April 2010, however, was clownish and disastrous. Jindal can help Americans remember just how dangerous it is to have a president who has no clue about what he is doing. Significantly, Jindal can explain just how much of a hindrance the federal government can be to effective response by state and local governments. Jindal can also speak personally and eloquently about the loss of good-paying jobs in the Gulf region caused by Obama's politically inspired and scientifically absurd moratorium on offshore oil operations.
Jindal meets all the criteria which any conservative could want. He is adamantly pro-life. He has a perfect rating from both the NRA and Gun Owners of America. Jindal has cut taxes in Louisiana six times. He has also line-item vetoed more than 250 earmarks in the state budget -- more than any prior governor. He has signed the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act, which allows for the teaching of Intelligent Design along with other scientific explanations for the development of life.
Jindal has been happily married for 15 years, and the Jindals have three children. They are Catholics, although by conversion and not birth. Jindal's parents remain Hindu, the faith into which Bobby was born. Jindal can speak as a devout conservative Christian directly to the issues of racial and religious bigotry, as well as to immigration issues.
In his 2003 run for governor of Louisiana, Jindal encountered Democrat racism. College Democrats of America President Bell called him "Bush's personal 'Do Boy' Bobby Jindal" and mistakenly called him an "Arab-American." Kathleen Blanco's campaign ran odious ads showing a very dark-skinned and disheveled Jindal with the sinister warning "They hope we won't wake up until it's too late." When any Democrat talks about racism, Jindal can respond that he has encountered it -- from Democrats.
Bobby Jindal can also speak as few American politicians can about religious tolerance as well as racial tolerance. He is a good son who loves his parents. (His life story is much like that of conservative Republican Governor Nikki Haley, the Christian convert child of immigrants whose parents remain Sikh, who as a young child was disqualified from entering a beauty contest on racial grounds.)
The positives on Vice President Jindal are strong: proven executive whose actions in natural disasters showed how incompetent and venal Democrats are in those situations, conservative expert in public health, child of legal immigrants who faced the sting of racial prejudice, child genius who eschewed corporate riches for public service, and solid conservative on virtually every issue. What else could we ask? How about the spark of excitement that his selection would make? The case for Vice President Jindal is very strong.