Mitt "Electability" Romney has won just one general election in nearly twenty years of politicking. His one and only term of office left him with an approval rating of 34%. Make no mistake about it: this was the best guy the Republicans had to offer this cycle.
Try to imagine just how bad the guy's running mate will have to be.
Of course, sane people will tell you that Rob Portman is the most obvious choice and, in this context, Portman's not bad at all. There are other promising contenders, too. Rand Paul would be great help in fundraising and energizing the Paul, er, enthusiasts, but the guy clearly isn't ready for prime time and nobody wants to be the next Sarah Palin in that regard. Paul Ryan offers similar benefits, but would have the unfortunate side effect of calling attention to what Republicans have actually been up to these last couple of years. Jeb Bush would make a great running mate, if it weren't for the fact that his last name is poison outside Florida. And, hey, maybe with enough coaxing Mike Huckabee could be convinced to--no, wait. No he couldn't.
But sane people aren't terribly involved in the GOP nomination process. The people who are have--strangely enough, even for them--spent the last week or so lobbying to make Bobby Jindal Romney's #2. Bobby freakin' Jindal.
Bobby Jindal, Bobby Jindal... How can I put this kindly? Bobby Jindal is an outright curiosity. Bobby Jindal is beyond gifted academically, yet he more often than not manages to come off like the lost cousin of Goober and Gomer Pyle. The one they never talk about. When Barney asks how Bobby is doing, Goober and Gomer just shake their heads and stare at their feet. Still, he is a Republican-friendly curiosity: Jindal is, after all, walking validation of every anti-intellectual suspicion the right wing holds about higher education.
Most of the world was introduced to Jindal through his shockingly daft 2009 State of the Union response, described as "painful" by Republican Strategist Ed Rollins immediately after.
If you don't recall Jindal's bizarre, all-smiles rant about "out of control" government spending, it might be because he managed to identify none. His list of pork included just three items: High speed rail systems (since when is the government responsible for infrastructure, anyway?), "cars for the government" and "something called volcano monitoring."
"Something called volcano monitoring." Those were Jindal's very words. It was as if to say, "What sorcery is this!"
"Instead of monitoring volcanoes," he concluded, "what congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC." Funny, I know some women who would say the same thing about their uteruses.
Also funny that he used the word "eruption," which made it sound like he knew why a government interested in public safety might want to monitor volcanoes. Yet, there he sat, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, in awe that such a thing might even exist. As if the Earth itself felt compelled to slap him in the back of the head, one of Jindal's volcanoes erupted soon after.
At the same time, it would be very, very difficult to overstate how impressive Jindal's educational pedigree is. Bobby Jindal is, literally, a Rhodes scholar. He is also a biology major who claims there is "no scientific theory" that explains how organic life comes from inorganic matter. You know, like abiogenesis through the formation of amino acids, most likely in the Eoarchean era, as demonstrated in the Miller-Urey experiment. But I might be getting some of that wrong--I'm not a Rhodes scholar or biology major, after all. Bobby Jindal is the science guy; I am not.
Maybe Bobby Jindal missed that day of class because he was, at the time, living in a William Blatty novel.
You see, one of Jindal's college friends, Susan, was treated for cancer. In recounting the events that spun out of that tragedy, Jindal takes great pains to imply that the young woman was in love with him, but that he wanted only a very close friendship. One night, with an operation imminent, the young woman suddenly left a concert they had attended together, sobbing. Later, Jindal noted that she had been acting strangely even apart from that... but for whatever reason? The cancer? The treatment? Unrequited love? Demonic possession?
The next day, she collapsed in extreme pain, followed by a seizure--the sort of thing that might prompt you or me to call an ambulance. Unfortunately for the young woman, this happened at a prayer meeting. Demonic possession was the preferred diagnosis. Jindal and his campus crusader pals decided to perform an exorcism rather than call for help.
Here's a taste of Jindal's account:
"The students, led by Susan's sister and Louise, a member of a charismatic church, engaged in loud and desperate prayers while holding Susan with one hand. Kneeling on the ground, my friends were chanting, 'Satan, I command you to leave this woman.' Others exhorted all 'demons to leave in the name of Christ.' It is no exaggeration to note the tears and sweat among those assembled. Susan lashed out at the assembled students with verbal assaults."
Clearly, this was a case of demonic possession, as no person in the throes of a genuine and serious medical emergency someone might lash out at those people like that.
Jindal's full account reads like satire--a black-as-night comedy that would be hilarious if it were not, allegedly, true. After more "oooh-woo-oooh" and bumps in the night, he continues:
"Maybe she sensed our weariness; whether by plan or coincidence, Susan chose the perfect opportunity to attempt an escape. She suddenly leapt up and ran for the door, despite the many hands holding her down. This burst of action served to revive the tired group of students and they soon had her restrained once again, this time half kneeling and half standing. Alice, a student leader in Campus Crusade for Christ, entered the room for the first time, brandishing a crucifix. Running out of options, UCF had turned to a rival campus Christian group for spiritual tactics. The preacher had denied our request for assistance and recommended that we not confront the demon; his suggestion was a little late."
Apparently, no one suggested the "spiritual tactic" of calling an ambulance to the man Grover Norquist would like to see a heartbeat away from the presidency.