Conservatives have been searching through the records and statements of the leading presidential candidates desperately hoping to find evidence that will allow them to persuade themselves -- at least through next November -- that one of these candidates is a credible and reliable member of their movement who can be trusted with the leadership of their party.
They are looking in the wrong place.
Forget the facsimiles, fakers and campaign-trail converts stumping Iowa and New Hampshire these days. If you want to find a truly conservative leader for the Republican Party of tomorrow, look south. He is getting ready to be inaugurated governor of Louisiana.
Rep. Bobby Jindal, elected governor of Louisiana on Saturday, is the real thing. He has never run to the left of Teddy Kennedy. He has never lobbied for Planned Parenthood. He has never advocated government recognition of same-sex unions. He has never called for amnesty for illegal aliens. He has never advocated raising taxes. He is a straight-up conservative: unhyphenated, unadulterated and uncorrupted.
He is also one of the smartest people in American politics today. At Brown University, the only grade he ever got was an "A." He turned down both the medical and law schools at Yale and Harvard, to accept a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford.
With world-class credentials, he worked briefly as a private-sector consultant before returning to the state where he was born to begin a career in public service.
At 24, he was appointed Louisiana's secretary of health and hospitals by then-Gov. Mike Foster. He later became executive director of a national commission on the future of Medicare and then served as president of the Louisiana State University system. In 2001, when President Bush appointed him assistant secretary of health and human services, the Senate confirmed him unanimously.
When Jindal initially ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana governor in 2003, he made a point of signing the Americans for Tax Reform pledge that commits politicians to oppose tax increases. He signed it again in 2004 when he ran for Congress.
"Voters have a right to know the true intentions of anybody running for governor," Jindal said about the pledge in 2003. "If someone refuses to sign the pledge because they intend to increase taxes -- that is their prerogative. While I disagree with this approach, it will allow voters to decide for or against tax increases on Election Day. If you do not plan to increase taxes, then you will have no problem signing this pledge."