Newsweek has an item in its current issue about John McCain’s search for a running mate, and how the Republican senator will likely put personal interaction at the top of his list of priorities. Washington lobbyist Ken Duberstein told Newsweek, “He is not going to pick a clone or a crazy.”
It depends, I suppose, on the meaning of the word “crazy.”
It’s hardly a secret that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), at the ripe young age of 36, is drawing serious interest for the GOP ticket. McCain had Jindal over to one of his houses for a barbecue recently, and prominent conservative voices have been talking up a McCain-Jindal ticket for quite a while now.
There are plenty of drawbacks surrounding Jindal. He’s barely constitutionally eligible (Jindal is literally half McCain’s age); he’s ridiculously conservative; and he’s held statewide office for a grand total of six months.
And then, of course, there’s the exorcism thing, which Eric Kleefeld and Kate Klonick reported on yesterday, noting that it’s part of Jindal’s background that “hasn’t gotten much attention.”
We’ve discovered that in an essay Jindal wrote in 1994 for the New Oxford Review, a serious right-wing Catholic journal, Jindal narrated a bizarre story of a personal encounter with a demon, in which he participated in an exorcism with a group of college friends. And not only did they cast out the supernatural spirit that had possessed his friend, Jindal wrote that he believes that their ritual may well have cured her cancer.
Reading the article leaves no doubt that Jindal — who graduated from Brown University in 1991, was a Rhodes Scholar, and had been accepted at Yale Law School and Harvard Medical School when he wrote the essay — was completely serious about the encounter. He even said the experience “reaffirmed” his faith.
It occurs to me that this might seem like satire. An Oxford-trained governor and VP possibility really wrote about participating in an exorcism?
Yes, he really did.
The whole report from TPM is worth reading, but Jindal — who was a high-priced corporate consultant when he wrote the piece — explained that he had a classmate, “Susan,” who was acting strangely and was surrounded by “sulfuric” smells. After she reportedly suffered a seizure, Jindal and some friends began an exorcism, which he claimed lasted hours, and during which “Susan” tried to leave, causing the exorcism team to hold her down.
From Jindal’s essay:
It appeared as if we were observing a tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange evil force. But the momentum had shifted and we now sensed that victory was at hand.
While Alice and Louise held Susan, her sister continued holding the Bible to her face. Almost taunting the evil spirit that had almost beaten us minutes before, the students dared Susan to read biblical passages. She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence “Jesus is Lord.” Over and over, she repeated “Jesus is L..L..LL,” often ending in profanities. In between her futile attempts, Susan pleaded with us to continue trying and often smiled between the grimaces that accompanied her readings of Scripture. Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed “Jesus is Lord.”
With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, “Has something happened?” She did not remember any of the past few hours and was startled to find her friends breaking out in cheers and laughter, overwhelmed by sudden joy and relief.
Best of all, according to Jindal, after ridding “Susan” of her demon, her skin cancer disappeared.
Now, I have no idea how the typical American voter would perceive all of this. I find it odd, but who knows, maybe mainstream voters think candidates for national office who’ve experimented with exorcisms aren’t especially controversial.
Either way, if Jindal is chosen for the ticket, expect to hear a few questions about this in the fall.