So, as you may recall, I was not very enthusiastic when Virginia Senator Tim Kaine emerged as the leading candidate for Hillary Clinton's veep slot.
But a funny thing happened when I started actually researching Kaine (and not relying on the mainstream media's assessment of him): I discovered that I really like him!
It's almost like Hillary Clinton is really smart and knows what she's doing or something!
Naturally, I have a piece up at BNR at her pick: Tim Kaine Is a Nice Guy; Mike Pence Just Pretends to Be One.
Hillary has oft said that she believes politics needs more love and kindness, and that she's trying to run a campaign that centers both. So it makes perfect sense to me that she'd choose as her running mate a man whom I've read described as a nice guy in a dozen or more articles in the past few days.There is much more at the link! And I'll be honest: That video clip of Kaine on Meet the Press really endeared him to me. Granted, that was after I had already immersed myself in his (rather impressive) ratings based on his voting record, but still. He is definitely a likable dude.
(I'll also note that competence has been central to her campaign as well, so it's also unsurprising that the rollout of her running mate was handled with both care and dignity, unlike some Donald Trumps I could mention.)
Kaine, I've read, is "vanilla nice"–he's "humble-but-sturdy" and "squeaky-clean." A "steady hand" with unassailable ethics. He's "personable but unassuming." He charmingly burst out laughing on Meet the Press when asked about his reputation for being boring.
"I am boring," he said with a grin. "But boring is the fastest growing demographic in this country!"
...If Hillary chose Tim Kaine, in part or in whole, because he's a "nice guy," because he gets what it means to want to be someone who injects more love and kindness into politics, I'm on board. I'll take all the love and kindness I can get.
Kaine was a civil rights lawyer for more than a decade, before he became a politician. He has been the only white mayor of Richmond, Virginia, in about 25 years. He's an anti-death penalty Catholic very much in the mold of the Kennedys:
Kaine is also fluent in Spanish, thanks in part to the year he spent in Honduras as a Catholic missionary before graduating from law school.I also want to recommend this enlightening piece by Krystal Ball, a Virginian Bernie supporter who believes that Kaine is someone who can help Clinton win over progressives and the rest of the country:
He speaks openly about his faith and its impact on his views on social justice. He and his wife, Anne Holton, are longtime members of Richmond's St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, a predominantly black congregation in a poor part of town. And as a private attorney before he entered politics, he made a name for himself advocating for fair-housing.
Kaine is the son of a welder who graduated from a Jesuit high school, flew through University of Missouri and then landed at Harvard Law. While his classmates were hanging out in Cambridge fielding offers from big firms, Kaine took a year off to do mission work in Honduras where he worked with young boys growing up in brutal poverty. The year abroad left him fluent in Spanish and with a deep commitment to using his Harvard law degree for the public good. After law school he made good on his commitment to service and rather than cashing in on his degree, spent much of his legal career fighting against housing discrimination. Now you just tell me, does that sound like the bio of a chamber-backed, blue dog, corporate Dem?The stuff about Kaine's courage in taking on the NRA makes me feel even more reassured that Clinton is serious about gun reform—and maybe she will put Kaine on point for getting something meaningful done.
Ahh but perhaps Kaine abandoned all his lofty principles in a quest for political power in a conservative Southern state! If that’s your concern, perhaps you should just ask the NRA how they feel about Tim Kaine. Here’s how his elections in Virginia typically go: the NRA gives him an F rating, fear mongers about how he’s going to take everyone’s guns, spends massively against him, and then Tim goes on to win anyway. Keep in mind, the NRA is literally headquartered in Virginia. If they are powerful anywhere they are powerful in the Old Dominion but that didn’t stop Kaine from [pursuing gun reform]. As someone who ran for Congress, in Virginia, I can tell you that perhaps the definition of political courage for a Southern Dem is willingness to buck the gun lobby. Tim Kaine has been unflinching.
Maybe though, Kaine was able to be bold on guns because he was right of center on everything else. Yeah, not so much…
…But, but, but Kaine is so boring! Surely he won’t bring the energy the ticket needs to win, right? If you think so, here’s something to consider: Tim Kaine has won every single election he’s ever run in. He’s won everything from Mayor of the majority African-American city of Richmond, to governor of a conservative Southern state…
…Look, anyone who has served as long and in as many ways as Tim Kaine is going to have taken positions you don’t agree with. I’m not saying the guy is perfect. But having watched a long time and gotten to see the man up close, I can tell you he is courageous, principled, and value driven.
One of the biggest criticisms of Kaine, as noted in the above-excerpted piece, is that he's boring. Well, here's what I have to say about that:
I'm significantly less inclined to consider "boring" a quality deserving of criticism after writing about not-boring Trump for 174 years.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) July 22, 2016
Anyway. Those are the basic outlines. I don't agree with him on everything (some policy differences on financial regulation and trade, for a start), but I'm on board.
Clinton-Kaine 2016. I'm with them.