Loose talk about putting Jindal on the ticket is a sure sign of how bad the alternative choices seem to be. This isn’t to say that Jindal wouldn’t make a good selection on the merits, but it would deprive Louisiana of an energetic and competent governor at exactly the wrong time, and it would deprive local Republicans of their de facto leader in the wake of the notable, but not necessarily very significant special election result in Louisiana’s 6th that has put the Democrat, Cazayoux, in the House. Jindal should stay put in Baton Rouge and follow through on what he promised to do.
Besides, if I am wrong about how competitive the presidential election will be and it turns out to be a major Democratic year with McCain playing the role of Dole, any higher ambitions Jindal might have had will go out the window, probably forever. That’s bad for him, but also bad for the GOP and perhaps even for the country. Republicans don’t have an endless supply of popular and conservative governors, and they can’t go around frittering them away in reckless VP selections. The conventional wisdom, which was correct then and and now, is that McCain doesn’t need someone from the South, and if he does need a Southern governor to shore up the ticket in the South all is lost anyway. So Jindal doesn’t necessarily add that much to the ticket, and the danger of him appearing as a green pol being promoted too quickly is real.
Does Cazayoux’s win portend general election doom for the GOP? I am doubtful. I am beginning to think that special elections for the House turn on the specific candidates and local conditions much more than they reflect national trends, and the NRCC, not exactly awash in strategic genius, has chosen to fight these elections by constantly invoking Nancy Pelosi and Obama. This seems to shout in a loud voice, “We have no ideas! We have no agenda!” And, of course, they have no ideas and no agenda, which is a problem, but it strikes me as very strange that the GOP actually wants to nationalise the House races by tying local Democrats to national liberal figures. If you nationalise the House races in this climate, you’re sunk. If you can appeal to local interests, you might have a chance. If, that is, Republicans can remember how to appeal to local interests, instead of nattering on about the evil of earmarks.
Update: Ross takes a similar view.
Second Update: Jim Antle agrees–we’re on our way to a blogger consensus!