Saturday, May 24, 2008

There are many things John McCain needs in a vice presidential candidate. The most obvious is a running mate who must be prepared to lead should the president be unable to. Other characteristics? Conservative. Youthful. Diverse. There is one name among those Mr. McCain is interviewing this weekend that fits the bill: Bobby Jindal.

The newly elected Louisiana governor is an exciting breath of fresh air to the national ranks of the Republican Party. At age 36, Mr. Jindal is our youngest governor and the first person of color to serve as Louisiana governor since Reconstruction. A first-generation American (his parents are Indian immigrants), Mr. Jindal successfully won over Louisiana on a platform of change and ethics reform in the midst of Louisiana’s notorious reputation of corruption.

Among his first acts as governor, Mr. Jindal issued an executive order on Transparency and Ethical Standards, and in less than three months he was able to pass a sweeping comprehensive ethics reform package in a special session. Mr. Jindal calls it “the first bold step toward a new Louisiana.” Impressive. And among the many reasons that make this young conservative an attractive (and necessary) addition to the McCain ticket.

A staunchly pro-life Roman Catholic, Mr. Jindal has the voting record to match his socially and fiscally conservative rhetoric.

During his tenure as a congressman for Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District (2004-07), Mr. Jindal voted in favor of energy reforms to address increasing gas prices, including a measure to crack down on oil company cartels engaged in price-fixing and making allowances for offshore drilling.

Mr. Jindal has been an outspoken advocate (sometimes in contrast to the Bush administration) for more recovery and rebuilding funding for the Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina. He has voted for legislation that would restrict independent PACs, require lobbyist disclosures of bundled donations and protect whistle blowers. His goals to reign in government spending mimic those of Mr. McCain, and Mr. Jindal supported making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Mr. Jindal also favors tough immigration reform — having voted for building a fence along the Mexican border (a position that helps to solidify Mr. McCain’s flip-flop on the issue).

Critics suggest Mr. Jindal is too young. We query, too young for what? Mr. Jindal meets the Constitution’s age requirement in addition to boasting an impressive, experienced and accomplished record as a public servant at the state and federal levels (since 1995.) In fact, Mr. Jindal has more executive and legislative experience than both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama combined. The question is whether he has the ability to step in as commander-in-chief at a moment’s notice. We have no doubt that he could.

For Mr. Jindal’s part, he recently spoke with Jay Leno of the vice presidential consideration: “It’s flattering, but I like the job I’ve got now … [I]’ve got the job I want.”

Maybe so, but we hope Mr. McCain will ask and that Mr. Jindal will accept. The great people of Louisiana will understand.

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