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Jindal doing, saying right things for future national run

Gov. Bobby Jindal showed some great political instincts when he turned down an offer to be considered running mate to Sen. John McCain’s recently unsuccessful Republican bid for the presidency. If he is interested in further national political advancement, he’ll have to keep up his perspicacity in a different way over the next few years.

Certainly it’s correct to muse that one or more of the next great political leaders will come from the party’s gubernatorial ranks. The chances of the party retaining the White House went nearly to zero with the nomination of McCain, and also reclaiming control of Congress when GOP Congressional leaders continued to be more concerned with power than popular policy, with Jindal accurately diagnosing the problem: drifting away from its “roots” of conservative principles and limited government, allowing big government to become their focus which spawned the temptation for corrupt behavior. The party became perceived more of an ill-defined echo than a real choice compared to the empty vessel/hidden agenda strategy of the Democrats.

New leadership more conservative and less enamored with big government for the party finally looks to be emerging in Congress, but it will take time for these figures to develop national electoral constituencies and they must fight getting steamrolled by the new Democrat majority. In the meantime, governors have the stages and opportunity to display their mettle to the public. And, as has been discussed elsewhere, Jindal will have plenty of opportunity (unlikely by choice) to show his abilities.

In retrospect, Jindal accurately seems to have gauged the impact of being on the McCain ticket if he brought any political criteria into that calculus. Losing vice presidential candidates usually don’t have much of a future on the national stage, and in this case he would have been tied onto someone whose electoral philosophy was the opposite of that needed to defeat a weak opponent trying to ride favorable political tides. Now all this baggage belongs to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, although she deftly used the opportunity to demonstrate she did have the correct philosophy for victory in these times and did prove she could withstand everything the Democrats and media allies could throw at her.

But whether these strengths would be enough for her to overcome the stigma of the McCain candidacy is another matter. Her presumed frontrunner status over Jindal may have become too impugned by this association and the job the media did on her. Jindal to some degree is better positioned to withstand a media assault, having done so to a lesser extent in his gubernatorial run in an environment larger and less isolated than Alaska which itself spawned some national coverage. The Democrats with complicit media largely have missed their chance to define Jindal negatively already and this may make him preferred by Republicans over Palin in a hypothetical presidential campaign.

Jindal also showed in his comments that he is politically astute enough to acquire and use the vacuous staple of the Democrats’ main campaign theme this year, “bipartisan change.” Of course, this crops up somewhat at odds with his diagnosis of Republican Party ills, because to Democrats “bipartisan” means the GOP acquiescing to whatever Democrats want and “change” occurs by pursuing policy fundamentally philosophically different than that of the majority of the American people, featuring big government interfering more extensively in people’s lives and liberty. Perhaps if Jindal becomes more serious about pursuing national office, he may begin to speak more accurately of a conservative “restoration” of smaller government and greater individual autonomy. But for now, he seems content to borrow these phrasings.

Jindal insists he wishes to remain governor if afforded that chance by Louisiana’s electorate. But should he change his mind to aspire to higher office, so far he has done everything necessary to make him a leading, if not the leading, contender.

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