Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Anti-Trump


Update: Holy Crap, Tim Kaine just killed it in his first speech with Clinton, writes Michael Tomasky, in his piece entitled The Anti-Trump. Also this description of their first joint appearance, with tweets in response.

And as usual, Borowitz has the last word:"The involvement of a seemingly decent human being in the 2016 election campaign left American voters stunned and deeply bewildered on Saturday. In interviews across the country, voters expressed reactions ranging from shock to total incomprehension at the campaign d├ębut of a man who, at first blush, exhibits none of the outward characteristics of a sociopath or clinical narcissist."


Like many, I didn't recall a lot about Tim Kaine.  I'm embarrassed to admit that in some respects I even had him a bit confused with the current Virginia governor, who I don't much like.  But everything I've read about him today has me believing that he's an excellent choice for Clinton's vice-president.

It's been clear for a few days that he was going to be the choice, especially once Clinton said that her top priority was someone who could take on the job of President immediately, if necessary, and who had foreign policy experience. Apart from the sitting Senators that were considered earlier, only Kaine qualified in both respects.

 It's worth noting in this regard that Kaine was on the shortlist for Obama's vp in 2008, and his lack of foreign policy experience then was a factor against him.  It was after that he ran for the Senate and made sure he got on armed services and foreign affairs committees. That's something that Tom Perez and others mentioned should consider if they have national aspirations.  Perez (as I noted) would be a politically galvanizing choice, but Hillary probably judged him as not quite ready for the big chair in terms of experience.

In any case, Kaine is a good choice.  In most respects, he is the Anti-Trump: he is genial, self-effacing, compassionate, positive, respected for working across party lines, knowledgeable and free of scandal.  He is deeply experienced at governing, moving up from city council to governor of Virginia to the U.S. Senate.  He's never lost an election.

Politically he has a perfect score on women's issues from Planned Parenthood, and an F from the NRA.  He's got a pretty strong environmental record (though nobody mentioned was especially known for focusing on the Climate Crisis.)  He was the first major officeholder to back Barack Obama in 2008.

The Bernicrats seem to hold two things against him.  One is his support of trade agreements--reasonable people can differ on this, though I believe the effect of trade agreements on jobs is overdrawn, especially in comparison to other factors. (I know for example that the loss of Big Steel in Pittsburgh had little to do with it, and I was there.)

The second is his recent request that the differences between community banks and credit unions on the one hand, and big commercial banks on the other, be considered in banking regulations.  Some Bernicrats say this means he's for bank de-regulation, which is the kind of nonsense that may get donations for your organization but which is a destructive distortion.  (Maybe people in urban areas don't appreciate the roles of community banks and credit unions, but in small places we do.)

When Trump went all fear and hate, the opportunity that the Dems are likely to take is to go all hope and we're in this together.  Kaine is perfect for that.  Not only is he basically positive, even his negative campaigning includes the positive, as when he asked the Hillary crowd: Do you want a ‘You’re fired’ president or a ‘You’re hired’ president? Do you want a trash-talker president or a bridge-builder president?"

What's especially going to make Kaine an effective candidate (if the campaign plays these cards right) has more to do with the details of his story.  He grew up in the Midwest and succeeded as a liberal in a fairly conservative southern state.  As Governor, he managed the state through the Virginia Tech gun violence aftermath and became a strong advocate for gun control.

As a lawyer he represented death row prisoners and victims of housing discrimination.  Even Republicans admire him both for being bipartisan and for being true to his convictions.  He didn't waver or waffle, one said.

 His son is an infantry officer.  He attends a mostly black Catholic church (and sings in the gospel choir), and lived in an integrated neighborhood in Richmond.  He speaks Spanish, having learned it teaching in a Jesuit school in central America.

He's low-key and says he's boring.  But he plays the harmonica.  He carries one with him, loves to play with bluegrass bands.  Anybody who does that is not, to my mind, boring.  Even if he may not be that good.  (He says his wife says 'Hey, you ought to play anytime they ask you because as soon as you're not in elected office, they're not going to ask you anymore.' ")

Elizabeth Warren is still a superstar, and her appearances with and without Hillary will still electrify crowds.  Same with Cory Booker. Tom Perez is less known generally but still can be helpful with Latino voters.  And of course there's Bernie, Bill and the most popular politician in America at the moment: President Obama.

Kaine brings out the best parts of Hillary's biography and record, and balances against the worst.  I hope they are working overtime to get this across at the Dem convention next week.

For that's the opportunity here: like me, most people don't know much about Tim Kaine.  Everybody knows way too much about Hillary and Trump (or they think they do.)  The GOPers blew whatever opportunity they had to introduce Mike Pence as a real person.  The ball is now in the Dems court, and they better not drop it.

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