So, I'm watching this Clinton campaign video last night about Tim Kaine:
Video Description: Over video of Kaine speaking and/or campaigning with Clinton, audio clips of Kaine speaking: "Remember folks: Tough times don't last, but tough people do last. We've been through tough times as a nation, but we are tough people. ...Do you want a 'me first president,' or a kids and families first president? Do you want a trash-talker president, or a bridge-builder president? ...What leaders do is walk right out into the challenges and embrace them and bring people together. That's what the best leaders have done in this country since we've started. ...Hillary's ready to be our leader. Hillary's ready to make history."And right at the moment where he says, "Hillary's ready to be our leader," it struck me like a ton of bricks: There is a white man standing on the stage in support of a woman running for president, and he is saying that she will be our leader.
And he is standing there in support of her, her second in command, saying he's going to help her make history.
I just feel very overwhelmed with how powerful a message that is in this moment.
When President Obama selected Joe Biden as his running mate, Biden was much older than Obama, who was, at the time, a one-term junior senator. The choice of Biden, already a statesman, was seen as necessary because Obama's lack of experience was a concern. Biden was positioned as his mentor, even though Obama was, as been made abundantly evident, clearly capable of doing the job all on his own.
Here, Clinton is the one with more experience. She's older than Kaine, and she's held a presidential cabinet position. There's no mistaking that she's the boss.
And let's be honest: President Obama was obliged to choose a white man as his running mate (in part) because of racism. People were (rightly) angry about that, but it wasn't Obama's fault. And Clinton was obliged to choose a white man as her running mate (in part) because of misogyny. People are (rightly) angry about that, too, but I'm seeing a lot more of the blame being directed at Clinton than I saw directed at Obama. And I'm not sure that's fair. Because misogyny isn't her fault any more than racism is President Obama's.
To be frank, my thought was that anyone who was prepared to vote for a woman is prepared to vote for two women, or a woman and a man of color. (I also thought the same thing in 2008, replacing woman with Black man.) But friends around the country who are not professionally ensconced in a pro-Hillary bubble the way I am tell me that I'm wrong. That it still matters to a lot of the less progressive Democrats and independents they encounter that there's a white dude on the ticket.
That's discouraging, but I'm listening to what they're telling me. And if that's true, then I have to believe that Team Clinton's incredibly sophisticated research uncovered the same. And I'm not going to hold her to blame for other people's bigotry.
I will, however, give her credit for making an enormously important political calculation regarding a potential Democratic Senate majority, if the above wasn't, in fact, a consideration. Senator Elizabeth Warren would have been replaced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts. Senator Cory Booker would have been replaced by a Republican governor in New Jersey.
Kaine, on the other hand, will be replaced by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who just last night announced he will individually sign thirteen thousand orders for ex-felons to make sure their voting rights restored. That's the kind of governor who will be picking a new Democratic senator.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who was also reportedly in contention, was just found by the US Office of Special Counsel to have violated the Hatch Act. "The agency didn't disclose who made the initial complaint about Castro's interview that prompted the investigation." Yeah, I wonder who it could have been who complained about someone on Clinton's shortlist violating a rule that voters don't care about or understand, making sure there was a ready-made scandal for the media to endlessly discuss if she chose him.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez (who was my preferred pick) is reportedly one of her choices for a cabinet position, where he'd have a lot more to do, and thus a lot more influence, than the average vice-president. If that's right, I'm definitely okay with his not getting the veep nod.
Which brings us back to Kaine. Who has an even lower rating (lol) than his Senate colleagues from the conservative Heritage Foundation. Even lower than Bernie Sanders! The lowest in the entire Senate. Which, in case it's not clear, means he's very progressive.
Since the announcement last night, I've heard from people who have worked with him, and read the accounts of people who have worked with him, and it's remarkable how much what people say about him sounds exactly like what I always hear from people who have worked with Hillary Clinton: He's a pragmatic progressive. He's a great listener; always seeking information; eminently willing to change positions (leftward) if new details demand it. And this:
Also... Not a person I know who's worked for @timkaine that wouldn't do anything for him. The loyalty and love of his staff speaks volumes.— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) July 23, 2016
Also? He, too, is a dork.
I know there's a lot of concern about Kaine's record on choice, which I totally understand, although it's clear that he has moved significantly left on reproductive issues in the last decade. As I noted in comments last night, I would be a lot more concerned about his mixed record were it not for three things:
1. I don't believe that Hillary Clinton would have chosen him were she not certain that he would be 100% committed to supporting pro-choice Supreme Court nominees.
2. I have already been through the "Catholic dude who is personally squishy on choice but is publicly pro-choice" with both John Kerry and Joe Biden, both of whom were more reliable on choice the more influential they became.
3. Normally, when there's someone who's chosen for veep who isn't flawless on choice, I'm super pissed off because it doubles-down the ticket on being insufficiently robust in their support of choice. For the first time ever, because Hillary Clinton is at the top of the ticket, that isn't happening! And that actually isn't a small thing to me.
(And, hey, she pushed Sanders left on Hyde; I've no doubt she can push Kaine left on choice if he needs pushing.)
I'm very excited about indications that my instinct about Kaine's history taking on the NRA figured into Clinton's decision. Clinton hasn't gotten much credit for being bolder than past Democrats on gun reform during this election, but her willingness to give zero fucks about the NRA and campaign with mothers of Black people killed by guns is a big deal. It's not a coincidence that there has been a Senate filibuster and a House sit-in by Democrats on gun reform since she launched her campaign. She seems very serious about gun reform, and it is even more reassuring to me regarding pursuing meaningful gun reform that she chose Kaine. I would very much like to see him lead on that.
And I'm very excited about this, too:
In terms of resume titles, has a ticket ever had more than Clinton-Kaine? SecState, Sen (2x), Gov, LtGov, Mayor, Councilman, FLOTUS, FLOAR.— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) July 23, 2016
Possibly the most qualified presidential ticket in history vs. Donald Trump, who has never served a day in public office. I am down with that big time.
So that's where I'm sitting right now. I respect people's concerns about Kaine, and I'm not telling anyone how they should feel about him. There are no perfect candidates, and we all draw our lines in different places. I'm just telling you what I'm thinking, because lots of y'all have asked for my further thoughts. No one is required to agree.
I probably don't even need to say this, lol, but I genuinely didn't expect to be as enthusiastic about Kaine as I am. I was surprised to discover he is very different than my impressions drawn from the media.
The irony is not lost on me. You'd think I'd have learned, after a decade of pushing back on the bullshit coverage of Clinton, that I can't trust anything but my own research on candidates—especially a candidate who was being covered because of his potential association with her.