Saturday, July 23, 2016


I'm not going to dance in the streets because Virginia senator Tim Kaine is Hillary Clinton's VP pick, but there's a lot to like about him -- his years as a civil rights lawyer fighting housing discrimination; his opposition to the NRA and seriousness about curbing gun violence; his support for the Iran deal and boycott of Benjamin Netanyahu's thoroughly political speech to Congress; his comfort with a diverse America (he attends a predominantly black church and he and his wife send their kids to predominantly black public schools, and he speaks fluent Spanish); and so on.

He's a Catholic and says he's personally opposed to abortion, but fellow Catholic Joe Biden has said the same thing, and that hasn't been a problem in the Obama years. I lived for years in a state governed by Mario Cuomo, yet another Catholic who proclaimed personal opposition to abortion, and his commitment to choice was rock solid. Kaine has 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

On the other hand, I don't trust Kaine's equivocation on TPP:
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) reportedly told Hillary Clinton he would oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership before she selected him as her running mate -- but as recently as Thursday, the Virginia senator was praising the massive trade deal.

The Huffington Post reported Friday night that Kaine told Clinton he would oppose the trade deal between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. According to the report, Kaine said he agreed with Clinton ... that the TPP did not meet certain standards on wages and national security.

But one day prior, the pro-trade senator still had warm words for the Pacific trade pact.

"I am having discussions with a lot of groups around Virginia about the treaty itself. I see much in it to like,” Kaine said Thursday during a series of roundtable events in suburban northern Virginia. “I think it's an upgrade of labor standards, I think it's an upgrade of environmental standards. I think it's an upgrade of intellectual property protections."
And the pro-bank talk is not encouraging:
... a bipartisan letter that Kaine signed on Monday urg[ed] the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to “carefully tailor its rulemaking” regarding community banks and credit unions so as not to “unduly burden” these institutions with regulations aimed at commercial banks.
Politico notes that even Elizabeth Warren "has supported targeted regulatory changes that would benefit a narrower group of smaller lenders" -- though presumably not Capital One, the tenth-largest bank in America, which is based in Virginia and is, as Politico notes, clearly on the mind of Kaine (and his Virginia Senate colleague, Mark Warner, who also signed the letter).

But a deregulatory free-for-all is inevitable if Donald Trump becomes president and leaves all the boring stuff in the hands of Reaganite Koch puppet Mike Pence working hand in glove with the likes of Ayn Rand fanboy Paul Ryan. We can work to push Clinton-Kaine to the left on this issue, and they're already on the left on so many other issues. With the Republicans, there's no hope.

And yet Trump is faking populism on this issue:

This is a big reason why the conventional wisdom about Kaine is dead wrong:
As a staunch Catholic with blue-collar roots, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., he is likely to give Mrs. Clinton a needed boost among white men....
The Clintonites think demography is destiny. So does the mainstream media. They think she'll do better with Middle American white men because she's picked a Middle American white man.

That's not how it works. As the GOP and Fox News have proven, white male heartlanders respond to coastal elites, women, and sometimes non-whites if they say what the white male heartlanders want to hear. New York billionaire Donald Trump is the obvious example, but heartlanders respond well to Fox's East Coast-centric talent pool (Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro). They love Sheriff David Clarke, a black gun nut and Black Lives Matter foe, who spoke at Trump's convention and is a frequent Fox guest. They admire Clarence Thomas and (until recently) Ted Cruz. They love Sarah Palin and Joni Ernst.

And they responded to New York-born, Vermont-based, Jewish agnostic socialist Bernie Sanders this year. That's the problem: Working-class whites are in an anti-elite frame of mind right now, and Clinton just picked someone who's easy to dismiss as a friend of the elites.

And even before the year of Trump and Sanders, Kaine didn't have great appeal to white males. Here's the exit poll result on that from his 2012 Senate race against George "Macaca" Allen:

Allen is the son of a revered football coach, so he started with a reservoir of goodwill among men. Allen, like Trump, has a history of ethnically insensitive remarks. Yes, Kaine beat Allen, but Allen clobbered Kaine among white men, 63%-37%. (And Kaine didn't fare much better among white women.)

Kaine is, as The New York Times says, "a self-effacing senator in a sharp-elbows era." That's going to appeal to white men? This year?

Nope. Clinton can certainly win the election with Kaine, but he won't help her with that demographic.


Unknown said...

In talking out of both sides of his mouth about TPP and being deep in the pocket of the banks, not to mention his slavish fealty to Israel, Kaine is a perfect fit with his new boss.

mlbxxxxxx said...

I don't think it was an appeal to white men, per se. More of an appeal to the center -- and I think a pretty good bet. HRC needs to reassure the centrists that are, rightly, repelled by Trump that she has not gone full-Bernie. The center is the only place there are really any votes in play. Are these centrists primarily white? Probably, but that's not the point; it's not about ethnicity, it's about where you are on the political spectrum. I'm actually pretty pleased with her choice, though I didn't want Kaine at first. I think it suggests that the campaign thinks they've got the left nailed down. I hope they are correct.

Victor said...

Look, he's not my first choice, but H & B Clinton like him, and get along with him.

I wanted Perez. But I think he was too pro-labor for Hillary and today's politics.

I'd have loved Warren or Brown, but they have GOP Governors, so, if the Dem's want to capture the Senate, that would have lost at least one seat.

Kaine is a safe pick.
The VA Governor is a Democrat, so, all around, a nice safe pick.
Too safe?
WTF knows?

Herbert Freeman said...

I am not reflexively anti-TPP. Obama is for it and I trust his judgement in most things. If it can be made better go for it. I like the fact that it is a stick in the eye to Chinese hegemony.

I am not sure what Kaine means by community banking but Credit Unions are definitely not the same thing as commercial banks and should be encouraged.

Josh Fennell said...

It's been said here and there, but it bears repeating because most folks seem laser-focused on some version of single-item, short-term benefit from this choice (eg, a few more votes in VA or, in the case of the OP, a few more white male votes): Kaine is a long-term best choice. Not one of the other people on the short list (Brown, who I love, wasn't on it, let's be honest) could actually be president if something happens to HRC. Bernie? Warren? Maaaaaaybe Perez, but probably not. Vilsack... well. Kaine is the only one who can actually be a colleague, confidant, and solid backup for HRC at this point in time; as that is the case, he is the only choice in point of fact.

And though I know Steve is going gray over the possibility that Trump can win, I simply don't believe it. You want to see massive numbers of Dem voters go to the polls? Trump guarantees it. All this freakout is almost entirely among white people on the left end of the spectrum; despite our best efforts, my fellow white liberals still can't grasp what they already know: non-white people will decide this election, and they are super-motivated to kick Trump's ass at the polls. Bernie's people want to sit it out? Cool. (Not cool at all, but if it happens it happens.) Most white Dems not excited (whatever the fuck that means)? OK, fine. Most will still vote. Black Dems? All going to vote, and making sure everyone they know votes, too.

Seriously. Black Americans know how to do politics. Choosing Tim Kaine didn't put even so much as a tiny dent in HRC's chances and her actual base - which is not white Dems at all, even if they can't yet accept that - is going to show up. Add the other blocs of Americans that Trump has shit all over, and this thing is done. It's interesting to me that whites on both ends of the political spectrum are so angsty about not being the center of attention; Dems just seem like the ones in more denial at the moment. I guess we're all Bernie Bros on some level, huh?

Herbert Freeman said...

I am also pretty sure that the Libertarian ticket will siphon-off a not insignificant number of White male voters from both Trump and Clinton. The Obama coalition will win this election for Clinton.

Josh Fennell said...

I agree with you, Herbert Freeman.

Never Ben Better said...

Jim Wright weighs in on the Kaine pick:

CF2K said...

Kaine's speech this morning kicked ass, frankly. I think this wasn't just a smart pick, I think it was a good pick.

Feud Turgidson said...

NBB, I agree: Wright makes a powerful, compelling rational even intellectual argument.

KenRight said...

You accuse Trump of "fake populism."
Trump is more likely to engender a populist movement against financialization and banksterism than Clinton.
But even if you believed this, you would support Clinton for other reasons which trump, no pun intended, the immediate context of the
gratuitous accusation.

sdhays said...

Saying that "Kaine's a white man, so more white men will now support Hillary" is stupid analysis, but it's no surprise our vapid media thinks in such simplistic terms. I think Booman's take is spot on - Kaine makes it easier for people (mostly white people because just about everyone else is terrified of Trump and his party by now) who really don't like Trump and usually don't vote for Democrats to say "just this once" and support Hillary. Hillary's running on a very progressive platform, but it's still an incremental platform, not a "burn it all down" progressive platform. "Burn it all down" clearly has a great deal of appeal, but it turns off a lot of people too. Picking Kaine, Hillary's sort of saying "this election isn't about realizing the first female President or having the first Latino VP on a national ticket or telling white people how terrible they are (although it's pretty embarrassing to be a white person these days...), it's about normal things and I'll be a normal President."

That does not strike me as a stupid political strategy. It might not be the right one, but it strikes me as perfectly valid. To be honest, it's sort of the non-evil version of Nixon's "silent majority" strategy.

Steve M. said...

Trump is more likely to engender a populist movement against financialization and banksterism than Clinton.

That might be true if he weren't a complete fraud. Alas for you, Ken, he is a complete fraud.

Ten Bears said...

Wall Street, the Trans-National Corporations and the International Bankers and Insurers are smiling that secret smile. I agree vis-a-v the Burden/Kaine analogy, the "safeness" of it all, but I don't think it'll make any difference. Donald T Rump on the ballot is as good a guarantee of a high lib - Liberal and Libertarian alike - voters as marijuana on the ballot.

I am impressed with his Spanish, though as a multi-lingual don't think it's as big a deal as the white dogs who can barely speak 'Meircia (and even those who do) do. The ability to communicate directly with a growing and still somewhat ambiguous population is naught but good business.

Ten Bears said...

That should be high lib voter turnout. Stupid smart phone. said...

1. Kaine is well networked in Virginia and particularly popular in Richmond (where he has a lot of connections in the Black community and of course Northern Virginia. He will help carry the state for Clinton.

2. If he becomes VP, McAuliffe gets to appoint a Democrat to fill the seat. He could appoint a caretaker and run for it himself as there will be special election (probably the same time the next Governor will be elected in November 2017) or he could appoint Mark Herring. And then there will be another election for the regular 6-year term in 2018, so whoever runs for the Democrats or the Republicans better be a master fund raiser.

3. Trade and trade agreements may not be very popular in the Industrial mid-west and progressive academia, but Virginians operate one of the biggest harbors on the East Coast at Norfolk and Newport News. In addition, the software and financial services industries are huge employers in Northern Virginia and the employees see their interests supported by agreements like TPP etc. So Kaine (like Senators Cantwell, Murray, Boxer, Warner, and Wyden, all Senators from coastal states with lots of businesses with lots of employees (e.g. voters( with overseas sales and investments, vote those states interests.

4. On blogs like this, Israel has become increasingly unpopular (for good reasons), but among the majority Democrats who still call themselves "moderates," Israel is very popular. Israel's politicians, as well as our "friends" in the Republican Party may eventually change that and younger Democrats will be less and less to support Israel, but right now Tim Kaine is a mainstream Democrat on this issue.

5. Clinton (and this her first major decision shows that she will be as expected to make solid, if a little to safe, well thought out decisions on things she does not think of her own private business) should really stress that she is going to implement an industrial and economic policy that will restore economic vitality outside the coastal zones and explain how her views on trade and agreements like NAFTA have changed. This way she may be able to pick up a few percentage points of the white working class vote (she already has the Black and Brown working class vote thanks to Trump and all the other Republicans). said...

to "Kenright" Nothing says "non-elite populist" like campaigning from your own private jet and flying to Scotland to celebrate your son's golf course.

flipyrwhig said...

"Friend of the elites" is an immense, steaming pile of bullshit. Stop saying it. Kaine writes one letter about bank regulation that applies to banks THAT ARE NOT WALL STREET OR EVEN NEAR IT and suddenly all the stupidest Berniac motherfuckers have the one thing that means they've been slapped in the face, because they LIKE feeling like they've been slapped in the face. Show me one thing Tim Kaine has done for elites or banks. This is a ludicrous concern with no basis except worrywartism and innuendo. Shame on anyone who swallowed it. Shame on everyone who sees a goddamn LOW INCOME HOUSING ADVOCATE AND BIG CITY MAYOR AND GUN OPPONENT AND INTERSECTIONAL SOCIAL JUSTICE CATHOLIC who's well respected by the African American community in Richmond and the rest of Virginia and decides to piss and moan about how he's just not progressive enough for them. Fuck you.

Yastreblyansky said...

@Herbert Freeman. Community backs are those with few branches, and the legislation in question defines them as those with less than $50 billion in assets. Elizabeth Warren also favors giving them a regulatory break--community banks, Main Street banks, George Bailey banks have always been one of her favorite causes, and one reason she wants to take down the giant banks is to protect them. She and Kaine are in total agreement on this, though she didn't sign the letter. The other letter, about banks with assets from $50 to $250 billion in assets, they disagree on.

But, Steve, it doesn't refer to Capital One, which is quite a bit larger than $250B. Politico is reading that wrong.

Yastreblyansky said...

Of course it's also the case that weighing in on banking policy is not something vice presidents do a whole lot. BIden was said (with more justice) to be in the pocket of banking interests, but he couldn't have done much to stop Dodd-Frank if he'd wanted to, which I doubt he did.

Vice presidents have more influence in foreign/security policy, where Kaine has been an important voice for demanding that presidents consult Congress before committing troops (and also, I'm sorry to say, for a more aggressive approach to Assad regime), so there's that.

I think Clinton is looking more for a vice president than a vote-getter. To me the pick is a sign she's confident of winning and not trying to use the choice as a pander for a particular demographic but to have somebody she's especially comfortable with in the office. But it will help with Virginia.

Never Ben Better said...

@ sdhays, wrt your statement that **Picking Kaine, Hillary's sort of saying "this election isn't about realizing the first female President or having the first Latino VP on a national ticket or telling white people how terrible they are (although it's pretty embarrassing to be a white person these days...), it's about normal things and I'll be a normal President."**

P.J.O'Rourke, announcing to utter shock on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" that he was going to vote for Clinton: "She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters."

Herbert Freeman said...

@Yastreblyansky When I opened my first bank account here in Orlando I deliberately chose a small local bank. It was swallowed by an out of state bank last decade and this decade was swallowed again by a Canadian bank. It's depressing.

Ten Bears said...

I don't see anything in the Dem party platform about postal banking. Why is that? Enjoys wide popular support, can be argued constitutionally mandated.

Herbert Freeman said...

I love the postal service, but if you ever have to do any business with them you are always confronted with a slow moving line of customers before you.

Feud Turgidson said...

Yas, tho folks like who comment here are measurably more excited about the actual policies in action and MOVES by Tom Perez, having spent parts of both yesterday and today listen to Kaine CAMPAIGN, all I want to say now, by gawddamn, that man can stump. He's relentlessly likable, he's about as comfortable onstage as anyone I've seen not named Perry Como (that dates me, but actually he was old when as a teen I got a summer job working special events thru Nevada and SoCal. I helped out and had to watch out for just under 600 shows that summer with dozens of repeats, and I never witnessed anyone work the audience more effectively than Como, who basically had nothing else going for him, yet he worked EVERY crowd even packages with teens who didn't want to be there or anywhere. And to have seen on video several of Trump's Traveling Geek Tent then to warch Kaine work a crowd is to see VERY ARGUABLY a greater master at work.

I'm not backing off the Perez thing because the guy's special and truly important - but to GET GOD DAM ELECTED, I very quickly coming to the conclusion she picked The One.

sdhays said...

@Feud Turgidson: That was thing the thing that always made me nervous about Perez. My understanding is that he's been a civil servant for most of his career, and has thus not run one campaign in his life. Of course, the VP candidate isn't running the campaign, but still, it's a huge jump from working in the bowels of the government and then Secretary of Labor to being on the campaign trail 24/7 under the intense media scrutiny involved in modern campaigns. Maybe he could make that transition just fine, but it would have been a gamble.

Yastreblyansky said...

@Ten Bears:


At a time when many of the largest banks have shunned communities across America,
Democrats believe that we need to give Americans affordable banking options, including by
empowering the United States Postal Service to facilitate the delivery of basic banking services.

Apparently mushier than it was in the draft, and certainly not as robust as the proposal Warren's been pushing for two years, but it is in fact there.