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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Jindal Trial Balloon

In an especially blatant example of a journalist letting himself be used to send up trial balloons for a political campaign, Bill Kristol’s New York Times column today announces that all sorts of people in John McCain’s political operation are thinking fond thoughts about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as a potential running-mate for the Arizonan.
Just to make sure the campaign’s purposes are served in exquisitely nuanced detail, Kristol spends a big chunk of the column making it clear that the Jindal Option will only be considered seriously if (a) Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, and (b) it appears likely McCain’s going to lose unless he throws something of a Hail Mary pass.
I’ve always thought Bobby Jindal made a lot of sense as a Hail Mary choice for McCain. He’s young (36), but has federal and state experience, without any direct complicity in Bush administration disasters (including Katrina). He’s non-white (Indian-American), but has won statewide in a place not noted for racial tolerance. He’s a Catholic of the particuarly fervid brand characteristic of converts (he was raised as a Hindu). He’s by all accounts crazy smart. And most importantly, serious conservative ideological types adore him, unlike the unconventional veep choice most often mentioned, Condi Rice. As I noted back in February, Jindal was the plurality favorite in a reader survey of McCain running-mate options at National Review Online. So it’s not surprising that the McCain campaign lofted this trial balloon right now, at a comfortable distance from the moment when the veep deal will actually go down.
The most interesting feature of Kristol’s column today is something entirely different: in a piece supposedly about John McCain and Bobby Jindal, Kristol managed to work in eight (8) references to Jeremiah Wright, or roughly seven more than might have been justified by the context. I’m guessing the injunction to repeat Wright’s name to the point of self-parody came to Kristol in the same package of talking points that asked him to see what the chattering classes thought of a McCain-Jindal ticket.

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