The case for (and against) Bobby Jindal

The case for the two-term Louisiana governor is straightforward. Jindal is a deeply accomplished guy: a Rhodes scholar and former McKinsey consultant, he nabbed a Louisiana cabinet post at 25, served a stint in George W. Bush‘s Administration, and was a member of the House before entering the statehouse in Baton Rouge. He has fiscal cred with the party’s anti-tax faction and a record of business-friendly policies. A Roman Catholic who opposes abortion, gay marriage and restrictions on gun rights, he has trenchant support among social conservatives, particularly Evangelicals.

The capstone on this glittering resume is a penchant for bone-rattling rhetoric that delights the party’s base. Just yesterday, Jindal blistered Obama as the “most liberal, incompetent president since Jimmy Carter.” Last spring, he drew notice for claiming that Obama tactically boosted gas prices to carry out his “ideology.” He’s “the best choice, hands down,” writes conservative columnist Philip Klein. If you’re a conservative, what’s not to love?

Plenty, actually. From a political standpoint, the pick doesn’t make much sense. Louisiana is a lock to go in Romney’s column. If you’re not tapping a No. 2 who can help you pick up a swing state, you want him or her to provide an entree into a demographic group. The selection of Jindal, an Indian-American, would avoid the questionable optics of an all-white-guy ticket in a rapidly changing nation; to some it might signal an effort on the part of the GOP to expand its demographics. But Jindal is a staunch conservative with little obvious appeal to swing voters. He would excite the party’s base, but sheer antipathy toward Obama has that box checked already.