The next presidential election might be four years off, but it's never too early to sow dissension in Republican ranks. So would appear to be David Shuster's creed. Interviewing Bobby Jindal this evening, Shuster was clearly more interested in luring the brilliant Louisiana governor into a fight with Sarah Palin than in exploring the substance.
Jindal was way too savvy and diplomatic to fall for Shuster's transparent ploy, but that didn't stop Shuster—sitting in for David Gregory as host of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—from repeatedly trying.
DAVID SHUSTER: Governor Palin is scheduled to give very high-profile remarks at this [GOP governors] conference that you are attending. She's also planning on having a very high-profile news conference. Will you do the same?
BOBBY JINDAL: Well, I'm looking forward to going and meeting with other governors, sharing what we've done in Louisiana: we've cut taxes, reformed the ethics code --
SHUSTER: But governor, what do you make, though, of what Sarah Palin is going to be doing over the next couple of days in this very same conference that you're attending? What is she up to?
JINDAL: Look, I think it's a good--I think the Republican party needs as many voices right now.
A bit later, Shuster again tried to stir the pot.
SHUSTER: Wouldn't it be better for Republicans if Sarah Palin—who so many Republicans of course associate with John McCain's loss—if she took something of a breather, cooled down essentially, didn't have such a high-profile engagement this week. Wouldn't that be better for the Republican party in your estimation?
JINDAL: No, not at all. I think our governors need to speak out. I think the voters are going to be looking at substance. I know there's going to be a lot of focus and a lot of speculation on who the messenger is going to be, who's the new faces going to be. But the reality is, people are looking for substance. The message is so much more important than the messenger at this point. People want out of this conference, they want to hear what are Republican governors going to do --
Shuster made once last try to lure Jindal into taking a potshot at Palin.
SHUSTER: But governor, you would acknowledge that there are some people who are better at delivering that substance than others, right?
Jindal was way too sharp for Shuster.
JINDAL: Well, I'm biased: I think our governors are great messengers.
Nice try, David!