Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jindal VP?

Conservatives bloggers and pundits have been aflutter over the possible pick of Bobby Jindal as McCain's VP, whether they think the timing/match is right, one thing they all seem to agree on is that Jindal is the next best thing since sliced bread.

The Politico offered summaries on those heading off to meet with McCain, including Jindal. After noting his academic accomplishments, which are impressive to say the least, and some of his political history they went on with what they felt were the pros and cons:

He would bring considerable domestic policy credentials to a candidate better known for his foreign policy expertise. Further, he could help McCain in two important demographic areas. His youth might appeal to younger voters inclined to support the 47-year-old Obama and his ethnicity would offer a much-needed dose of diversity to a party dominated by white men.

Better yet, he’s a full-spectrum conservative who could help McCain shore up his base. And as a reformer – ethics reform has been his overriding focus in Baton Rouge – he’d buttress McCain’s good government appeal to at a time when voters are fed up with the political status quo. Lastly, as the first Indian-American on a presidential ticket he could help raise cash from a tight-knit and well-endowed community.

Yet Jindal would also be just one year over the constitutional age minimum. His youth could offer a contrast with the 72-year-old McCain but it might also highlight the presidential nominee’s age, rather than assuage voters about it. And despite his depth of policy experience, he has no national security credentials. Given the threats that confront the nation—and McCain’s stated desire to find a vice-president who could quickly become commander-in-chief—Jindal may represent a risk. It’s worth noting that McCain is likely to win Louisiana with or without him.

For the most part this seems to be on the ball. Here are some of my additional concerns:

If Jindal is selected it must absolutely be on the merits and not some ploy to turn him into a token minority on the ticket. The appearance of such would be far more damaging than a lack of diversity on the ticket.

Jindal is absolutely a "full-spectrum conservative" and has Limbaugh and other diehard conservatives singing his praises, regardless of whether they think he'd be a good pick as McCain's VP. This could, however, damage McCain's appeal to independents and moderates who he'll absolutely be relying on for a November victory with so many diehard conservatives still mulling over whether they'll stay home, skip that part of the ballot, or go third party. I appreciate his stronger defense of the 2nd Amendment, but balk at his extreme positions on religious issues on everything from abortion to intelligent design, his stance on immigration issues and other policy positions where he'll be likely to clash heavily with McCain.

Jindal's lack of any foreign policy experience and being "barely legal" in Constitutional age is probably the most serious concern. Having McCain advisers and appointees at his disposal and his obvious intelligence isn't a bad start, but it hardly qualifies him to be in the "decider's" seat if anything were to happen to McCain. His youth isn't just a concern of making McCain look old, but also of making Obama appear older and less naive. Also, his strict adherence to a political philosophy may make many conservatives elated, but it may be his age showing a devotion to ideology without the benefit of wisdom. If it were peacetime, taking these risks would be far less unnerving. But now doesn't appear to be the appropriate time.

I'm not sure who would be the ideal political pick for McCain's VP... someone who could help corral the conservative base without snubbing independents and moderates, or someone who'd appeal to independents and moderates without running off diehard conservatives who are still reeling over the maverick clinching the nomination... and who have been ritualistically crying "See, I knew he'd betray us!" every time McCain repeats the views they disagree with, and of course threatening to take their ball and go home all over again. As absurd as it is to keep seeing "just when I starting to warm up to McCain..." blogs from the same people, sometimes on the same subject they were complaining about during the primary, they always seem to get back on board after a while of considering the alternative.

But this endless ideological battle and infighting should not be the sole concern in the VP choice. Given the international situation and conflicts, the ability to deal with such issues must remain at the forefront, even if it means a bit more work to keep the coalition of supporters together... or listening to some of them endlessly complain about holding their noses.


Anonymous said...

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Ted said...

Here's an important piece of advice: If it looks like it's going to be McCain/Palin anyway (and that should be a "no brainer" for Team McCain), McCain should announce NOW or VERY SOON, rather than later towards the convention. There's currently a growing chorus for Obama/Hillary (as VP) ticket (in fact the Dems are likely aware of the Palin phenomenon). If the GOP waits while movement for Hillary as VP grows -- even worse until after it is solidified that Hillary will/could be VP pick -- selecting Palin will be portrayed by Dems/liberal media more as a reaction by GOP selecting its own female (overshawdoing Palin's own remarkable assets), rather than McCain taking the lead on this. Selecting Palin now or early (contrary to the punditocracy) will mean McCain will be seen as driving the course of this campaign overwhelmingly, and the DEMS will be seen as merely reacting. And, there's absoultely no down-side to this because even if Hillary is a no-go as VP for Obama, the GOP gains by acting early. McCain the maverick. Palin the maverick. Do it now!

There's no reason, and actually substantial negative, in McCain waiting to see what the Dems do first insofar as his picking Palin as VP, because, no matter who Obama picks, Palin is by far (and I mean far) the best pick for McCain and the GOP, especially in this time of GOP woes. The GOP can be seen as the party of real 'change' (albeit I hate that mantra, change, change, bla bla), while not really having to change from GOP core conservative values, which Palin more than represents.

In light of the current oil/energy situation, as well as the disaffected female Hillary voters situation, and growing focus on McCain's age and health, Palin is more than perfect -- now.

(Perhaps Team McCain is already on to this.)