Don't Take the Vice President Bait, Bobby Jindal

Unless he gets immensely jaded with politics in the next few years, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will run for president – it’s only a matter of time. 

As the second youngest currently-serving governor with impeccable credentials in both the private and public sectors, Jindal is one of this country’s most promising political prospects. However, he has already declared that 2012 will not be his year to make the next big step. But if he doesn’t feel it’s his time to be president, how about vice president?

Jindal recently won re-election to a second term as governor of Louisiana with a whopping 66% of the vote. He holds an impressively conservative policy record, receiving high ratings from national pro-life and Second Amendment organizations. Despite his flexibility with the teaching of creationism in schools, his experiences as a Rhodes Scholar and at a Big Three consultancy show that he’s no intellectual slouch either.

Amongst the promising young triumvirate of future GOP stars – Jindal, Gov. Nikki Haley, and Sen. Marco Rubio – Jindal boasts the most executive and legislative experience. Whoever wins the GOP nomination to face-off against President Barack Obama next year could do a lot worse than not pick Jindal as running mate.

But given the potential that Jindal has, would he even accept the “mere” post of VP? Counter-intuitively, being “veep” would not be a step-up for Jindal. Since World War II, only five vice presidents have subsequently gone on to take the highest office in the land. Of the five, only two – Nixon and Bush – won elections for their first terms. Truman, Johnson, and Ford succeeded to the presidency through the misfortune of their superiors.

Given his own suspected ambitions, this is hardly a record Jindal would seek to emulate.

But an even more dangerous list that Jindal might consider is that of failed vice presidential candidates. From Shriver to Ferraro to Kemp, it makes for some grim reading of stars who rose and fell in a competition in which they had hardly any influence. In victory, obscurity; in defeat, ignominy.

The people vote for the president. Vice presidents can, at times, seem like an awkward extension. Commentators speak of and speculate about the White House; D.C. locals might be forgiven for not knowing where Number One Observatory Circle is.

If Jindal accepts an offer to run, and he loses, a bright political career may well be prematurely snuffed out. If he wins, he will barely gather electable experience – or at least not significantly more than being the governor of a large Southern state – and might lose momentum to the similarly ambitious and young Rubio of Florida. Essentially, it boils down to: Run and win a pyrrhic victory at best, or don’t run and lose nothing.

The one thing Jindal has over his potential presidential competitors is time. At 40, he can and should play the waiting game. As governor of Louisiana, a position he looks good to keep, he will remain in the national and GOP spotlight, and can comfortably wile away the years – four, should Obama win in 2012; eight if a Republican does – waiting for his opportunity to run for the presidency.

Jindal is potentially destined for greater things; but as the electoral calculus might prove, just don’t expect them to materialize in 2012.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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