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|The unimportant non-endorsement|
A few national media outlets and some of those illustrious political bloggers got their panties in a wad again over weekend because Gov. Bobby Jindal has not endorsed Sen. David Vitter in his re-election bout with Congressman Charlie Melancon.
Moreover, Jindal has not indicated whether he will endorse Vitter before the Nov. 2 general election.
Though he has maintained some distance from Vitter ever since Vitter's relationship with a Washington, D.C., call girl service came to light some three years ago, Jindal has been pointedly clear since last fall that he would keep his nose out of the Senate race for the most part. Jindal has never ruled out endorsing Vitter, but his remarks have suggested anything but a ringing endorsement for the embattled senator from Metairie.
Under normal circumstance, it would be a natural fit for Vitter to receive Jindal's blessing. After all, Jindal and Vitter are Republicans. Vitter's opponent is a Democrat who has the backing of the Democratic campaign committee for Senate hopefuls, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The 2010 Senate race in Louisiana, though, is anything but normal. The incumbent, Vitter, is on his way to being easily re-elected in spite of having endured a scandal or two or three that would have derailed the careers of most politicians. The challenger, Melancon, has little momentum, and support for his candidacy, like scores of Democrats across the country, is luke warm at best except among party stalwarts.
The question remains—why has Jindal balked at endorsing Vitter?
The plausible explanation is Jindal does not approve of how Vitter has managed his personal life. Accordingly, as many of us have heard our mother's say, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
Jindal's reasoning for not endorsing Vitter (thus far) may run a bit deeper, or may be the case for another reason including political implications. In other words, Jindal may be keeping his powder dry, so to speak, because endorsing Vitter could signal to moderate and independent voters that he, Jindal, does not have a problem with the behavior that got Vitter into trouble in the first place.
Yet, Jindal runs a big risk if he doesn't endorse Vitter before election day in November.
Remember, Vitter has a loyal following among diehard conservatives, many of whom supported Jindal when he was elected in 2007. Jindal's banking on them to stand with him when he's a candidate for re-election next year. You can rest assured that many of those diehard conservatives won't forget it if Jindal fails to deliver for Vitter this fall, and they won't forget it anytime soon including if and when Jindal makes his move in earnest onto the national political stage.
The safest route for Jindal to take politically would be to endorse Vitter under the guise that Vitter learned his lesson from his past mistakes, and he was forthright and sincere when he told the world that it won't happen again. Everyone deserves a second chance. Rewarding someone for a serious indiscretion is another matter.
But this isn't the time or the venue to get into a discussion about forgiveness or redemption or any of those other highly personal matters that should be dealt with privately.
Instead, an endorsement in a political campaign is the topic of the day. And it's simply not that important.