Monday, July 4, 2016

The progressive case for Tim Kaine as Clinton's VP

photo by Patrick McDermott, Getty Images.

Former MSNBC host and candidate for congress herself, Krystal Ball wrote an article to debunk the notion that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) would be a "boring," "safe," and "centrist" pick for Hillary Clinton's vice president running mate.  [see my comments on June 27th post about VP short list]   Krystal Ball is from Virginia, and she says that the complaint about this former governor has always been that he's "too liberal."    So she presents a few things you should know about why, though a progressive Sanders fan herself, she loves Tim Kaine.
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"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. . . .

"[Nor did he abandon] 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 signing an executive order following the Virginia Tech massacre to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. It also didn’t stop him from pushing additional gun control measures as governor like eliminating the gun show loophole, and it hasn’t stopped him as Senator from continuing to lead the charge for sensible rules like increased background checks. . . .  [P]erhaps the definition of political courage for a Southern Dem is willingness to buck the gun lobby. Tim Kaine has been unflinching. . . .

"[Nor was his liberal stance on guns just to balance a right of center stance on everything else.   Rather, as governor of Virginia]  ". . . . Kaine raised taxes, spearheaded efforts for universal pre-K, made Virginia the first Southern state to ban smoking in public places, and consistently opposed the death penalty. . . . [He] vetoed eight different bills that would have expanded capital punishment. . . . 

"Speaking of Catholic values, shouldn’t pro-choice progressives be terrified of Tim Kaine on the ticket? After all, he has said he is personally opposed to abortion. . . .  [But] Kaine has consistently supported Roe v Wade. In the Senate, he actually enjoys a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood. . . .  He has been quite clear that while he may have his own personal objections to abortion, he has no interest in policing the lives of others. . . .

"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. In fact, Kaine was a big part of turning Virginia into the state we see today which went twice for Obama and currently has a Democrat in every single statewide office. . . .  Obviously, he’s from an important swing state but the way Kaine won in Virginia is important too. He precisely targeted and outperformed in the kind of suburban and exurban counties where Republican leaning voters may be feeling the most uncomfortable with the charlatan who has won the Republican presidential nomination. 

" . . . .  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." 

[Krystal Ball concludes this personal account of Sen. Kaine by saying that she drove 12 hours to be able to cast her vote at home for Bernie Sanders -- and that she would be delighted to see Tim Kaine on the Democratic ticket.]  "He won over skeptical Virginians when it was supposedly impossible. I’d love to see what he can do to help Secretary Clinton win over America."
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OK.   I'm convinced he'd be a great vice president.  And, for anyone who looks carefully at the facts, his liberal values and credentials are convincing.   I'm worried about what is being referred to -- derisively now -- as the "optics."    How will "another white man" from a conservative Southern state look to the short-attention-span-challenged average voter?   Maybe the Clinton team thinks her greatest deficit is with the white, less educated working class men -- and maybe Kaine can bring them in.

Or maybe Kaine is the one she wants at her side in the White House as she has to make tough decisions.   That's the most important thing.


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