Obligatory caveat: Maybe he is. No one knows except for Romney’s inner circle. But all of the rumors lately have to do with Portman, Pawlenty, and Ryan, with Rubio and Christie unlikely dark horse possibilities. Jindal’s name seems to have disappeared — even though he’s probably the one guy out there more than any other who would satisfy virtually everyone in the Republican galaxy. As Matt Lewis put it:

T-Paw is “meh,” Portman is a Bush guy, Ryan is an invitation to Mediscaring — but what’s Jindal’s big liability? He’s smart as a whip, respected by grassroots conservatives and righty intellectuals, has had plenty of executive experience, brings youth and racial/geographic diversity to the ticket, and on and on and on. The only arguments against him are that he endorsed Perry in the primary, gave a flat response to the State of the Union a few years ago, and once wrote about an exorcism he witnessed decades ago. So what? It wouldn’t be that hard to spin the Perry endorsement: “It was a tough call between him and Mitt, whom I’ve always admired, but my personal friendship with Rick forced my hand. Now, however, I’m committed to helping Gov. Romney lead America back to prosperity.” Case closed. No one’s going to care about the SOTU response — if you want a guy who gives a good speech but can’t govern, there’s already an app for that — and the exorcism thing is so old, petty, and arcane that it’s just not going to get traction realistically. Something like that only hurts a candidate if it jibes somehow with his public persona, seeming to reveal some fundamental quirk in his character. This doesn’t do that. Jindal’s image is that of a consummate wonk, a technocrat blessed with unusual brain power and an enviable grasp of policy. He’s simply not going to be easily demagogued as a wild-eyed religious radical, which of course would be the point of those attacks — although no doubt liberals will try anyway. (In a way, it’d be fitting if this dumb, petty campaign came down to an argument over exorcisms.) Worst-case scenario: Jindal’s forced to answer a few questions about it and gets to gently remind the media that we all do strange things sometimes during youth. Some of us witness an exorcism, others do cocaine. Bygones, etc.

I’m on the verge of talking myself into thinking that he should be the choice, but I’ll hold off on that if only because Portman could at least help deliver a crucial swing state. I’m not sure what Pawlenty, Ryan, or Jindal would deliver, despite their respective strengths. Here’s video of the man himself from the Red State Gathering held recently. Exit question: Why shouldn’t he be the pick? I’m sincerely interested in counterarguments.