Bobby Jindal showed this week why he needs more time before he runs on the GOP ticket.
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RUSH LIMBAUGH HAS said that Jindal is the next Ronald Reagan, but Jindal really only has three-quarters of the winning Reagan formula.
The Republicans’ whiz kid gets 100 percent on policy: as a 20-year-old Hill staffer, he took U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery’s Medicare plans and totally revised them, to the Congressman’s surprise. And at age 24, he turned massive Medicaid overruns into a $200 million surplus.
But on politics, he’s only halfway there. Obviously he’s doing something right if he’s the governor of Louisiana at 37 and a seemingly nightly guest of CNN and Fox News. But he should know better than to let a small hiccup overshadow his accomplishments.
Furthermore, he needs time to cement his reputation for as a pragmatist and a reformer. He’s well on his way toward implementing policies that will undoubtedly produce real and measurable gains for Louisiana’s businesses, schools, and hospitals, but he’s also already put policies in place that will make him a big fat target for the Left.
For instance, Jindal has signed a law that allows public school teachers to expose students to theories other than Darwinian evolution — and has already felt the vituperation of the Left. He’s been accused of backwardness and rejecting science for Creationism.
He backs the public display of the Ten Commandments, eschews state aid for stem-cell research, and is unrepentant in his opposition to all forms of abortion.
While these are all characteristics that could aid McCain’s candidacy by improving his image among traditional conservatives, they also make it relatively easy to portray Jindal as a backwater, Bible-thumping Jerry Falwell type — but not if he has the revival of Louisiana to his credit.
IN FACT, Democrats didn’t even play their ace-in-the-hole in the gubernatorial race. In 1994 Jindal wrote an article for the ultraconservative Catholic magazine the New Oxford Review detailing his involvement with the exorcism of a college classmate.
The article was only dragged back into the news during a recent Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionality of forced exorcisms.
Why did Democratic leadership decide not to use the article to portray Jindal as a religious nut during the race? There are two possibilities. One, they feared a backlash of the state’s religious voters — both Catholics and Protestants. Two, the byline on the piece may have given them pause. It reads:
For whatever reason, they flinched. But that won’t be the case if Jindal is the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee. Right now, it will be all too easy to poke holes in Jindal’s public image. But that’s just until Louisiana manifests his reforms, making him one of the most sought-after Republican candidates for president in 2012.
That’s why the Right should keep Jindal right where he is: waiting in the wings.
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