This leaves Portman and Jindal. Like Ryan, both easily pass the “could he be president” test, with impressive resumes (absurdly impressive, in Jindal’s case: He was running the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals at 24) and instant policy credibility. Like Pawlenty, both have experience running and winning statewide races in places that don’t always elect Republicans.

But there’s no question that an earnest white Midwestern Methodist like Portman would be the safer choice – so safe, in fact, that he would probably drop out of the headlines the day after he was picked. Jindal, on the other hand, would give the press all kinds of things to fixate on: His youth, his ethnicity, his Ichabod Crane physique, his religious background (he’s a convert from Hinduism to Catholicism), and of course the endless interesting-and-then-some stories that you’ll find percolating in Louisiana politics.

He’s no Palin, in other words, but he is the kind of pick you make if you’re willing to accept a little more risk for the chance of a little more reward. As someone who believes Romney is playing things too cautiously at present, I tend to think he should strongly consider the jolt that choosing Jindal might supply him.