Should McCain Have Picked Jindal Instead?

Just before Hurricane Gustav blew into the Gulf as the GOP powers that be were calling off the party in Minneapolis-St. Paul, I mused about whether Republicans would come to wonder if they might be better off in the presidential race had John McCain picked a different running mate.

In the wake of newly hatched Palinmania, it seemed a sacrilege to question the choice of a governor who had so excited the conservative base. Considering the excessive media tear against Palin, as opposed to the kid-gloves treatment afforded Barack Obama, it was no surprise that anyone in the media who questioned the selection of Palin -- regardless of whether he or she fell on the right of left side of the aisle, or somewhere in between -- was regarded as having nefarious ulterior motives by fans of the newly created ticket.

But I've rarely seen a leader so pulled together in the face of crisis as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. And on the eve of Gustav, as Jindal delivered some of the most comprehensive and detailed press briefings around (with information subsequently printed and easily accessible for all on the governor's Web site), I wondered if, after all was said and done, it would become clear that Jindal should have been No. 2 on the GOP ticket.

Mind you, this was before all the Palin drama began; the veritable circus surrounding her candidacy and the comparison of her length in office compared to Obama's, as if they were facing each other for the same spot; before the morbid punditry that presumed McCain wouldn't last long enough to see the end of his first term, thus the justification given for going after Palin with both barrels. And before we knew that Gustav wouldn't have the same catastrophic effect as Hurricane Katrina.

But as soon as I blogged on the possibility that storm season could show Jindal may have been the smarter choice, commenters in conservative forums were calling me a Marxist mainstream media louse who was surely making the suggestion to sabotage a right-wing dream ticket (though, it should be said, McCain was in the not-too-distant past considered a poseur Republican, and any pundit who pitched him in the primary over Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee was roundly castigated). Never mind that I was suggesting another Reagan Republican as McCain's ideal running mate.

This is because you won't find many doubting Jindal's conservative credentials -- but you also won't find many doubting his managerial, financial, or gubernatorial chops.