Lazy Saturday Reads: Clinton-Kaine vs. Trump-PutinPosted: July 23, 2016
I woke up this morning feeling very good about the Democratic ticket. I know I have been saying Tim Kaine is boring; but now I that know more about him I realize I was wrong. He’s not a screamer, and he won’t get the Bernie-or-busters excited, but there aren’t that many of those selfish jerks and they aren’t going to vote for Hillary anyway. But Kaine is a lot more interesting than I originally thought.
Here’s Hillary herself on why she chose him (from campaign email):
Tim is a lifelong fighter for progressive causes and one of the most qualified vice presidential candidates in our nation’s history.
But his credentials alone aren’t why I asked him to run alongside me.
Like me, Tim grew up in the Midwest. During law school, he too took an unconventional path — he took time off and went to Honduras to work with missionaries, practicing both his faith and his Spanish.
When he returned to the states and graduated from Harvard Law, he could have done anything. But instead of going to some big corporate firm, he chose to fight housing discrimination as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond. Most car accident lawyers charge clients in a fairly unique way — as opposed to the hourly fee that many firms charge in other types of cases. The typical auto accident lawyer will charge a “contingency fee” to take an injury case.
Tim says his experience on city council taught him everything he knows about politics. To the people in Richmond, an underfunded school wasn’t a Democratic or Republican problem. It was simply a problem that needed fixing, and his constituents were counting on him to solve it. So Tim would do it. He’d roll up his sleeves and get the job done, no matter what.
He’s a man of relentless optimism who believes no problem is unsolvable if you’re willing to put in the work. That commitment to delivering results has stayed with him throughout his decades-long career as a public servant. So I could give you a laundry list of things he went on to accomplish — as mayor of Richmond, governor of Virginia, and in the United States Senate.
But this is what’s important: Tim has never taken a job for the glory or the title. He’s the same person whether the cameras are on or off. He’s sincerely motivated by the belief that you can make a difference in people’s lives through public service.
Emily Kadei at Newsweek (July 15, 2016) says Tim Kaine is not a “boring” choice.
Personable but unassuming, he’s not the type who, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, will engage in Twitter wars with Trump. In Virginia, he built a reputation as a consensus-builder, not a bold thinker, while governing as a Democrat in a traditionally conservative state. Dig beneath the surface, however, and another picture starts to emerge, one that’s a lot more colorful than the vanilla first impression. It turns out that this career politician actually has a pretty radical streak running through him: a fierce, Jesuit-inspired commitment to social justice and racial equality that was very much at odds with the consensus in his Southern state at the time he was building his career.
Kaine declined to be interviewed for this article, but in the past he has credited his deep Catholic faith and a life-changing year as a missionary in poverty-stricken Central America for his foray into public service and politics. Speaking to Charlie Rose in 2008, Kaine said the year he took off during law school to volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in rural Honduras “really reenergized my faith, it gave me a role model…it gave me a sense of mission generally and specifically and it taught me a lot about our country.”
He harkens back to the experience regularly, including on Thursday. Speaking at a community college in Northern Virginia with Clinton looking on, Kaine recounted, “When I lived in Honduras, the best compliment you could make to someone…was to say that they were ‘listo,’ to say that they were ready”—a reference to the Clinton campaign slogan “Ready for Hillary.” Showing off his fluent Spanish, he explained, “What ready means is more than just on time, it means well-prepared, it means they’re ready to get on the ballot!” The crowd roared.
Kaine spent 17 years as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond, VA.
Kaine’s time in Honduras also pointed the way toward the civil rights work he did in Richmond. It was there that he read the famous Martin Luther King Jr. line: “the most segregated hour of the week is 11 o’clock Sunday morning.”
“When I read that, you know, my experience growing up in a very white suburb of Kansas City, and not really knowing many people different from me, boy the scales really fell from my eyes,” he recounted to Rose. “I just decided whatever I did I was always going to try to make racial reconciliation a core of what I did.”
Kaine’s wife Anne is also a fighter for social justice.
Her father, former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton, made national headlines in 1970 by sending his daughters to a predominantly black school as part of a push to desegregate Richmond’s public education system.
Tim and Anne embraced a similar ethos in the life they built together in Richmond. They joined St. Elizabeth, a Catholic church in the low-income Highland Park neighborhood, at a time when few white people were part of the parish. Even now, the neighborhood is “mostly black folks,” says Rev. James Arsenault, St. Elizabeth’s pastor. The Kaines play an active role in the church, with Tim even being known to sing with the gospel choir from time to time. “I know they’ve been godparents for some kids from the parish and go to graduations and wedding anniversaries,” Father Arsenault says. “They’re friends, people call them Tim and Anne.”
After reading that, I can understand why Hillary chose him. His social justice Catholicism is a very good match for her social justice Methodism.
The USA Today Editorial Board: Tim Kaine is the right pick for veep: Our view.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is not Mr. Excitement, as he’d be the first to say, but he is the smartest vice presidential pick Hillary Clinton could have made.
Kaine is not going to fire up the Bernie-or-bust crowd and he is, there’s no way to avoid noticing, a middle-aged white guy (58, to be exact). But he does have the virtue of checking every other box on Clinton’s wish list – starting with the confidence that, as she put it in an interview with Charlie Rose, her running mate “could literally get up one day and be the president of the United States.”
She called that her top priority. It is ours as well.
If resume is destiny, Kaine was inevitable. He is a former city council member, mayor, lieutenant governor and governor who has become a student of war and foreign policy in the Senate. As governor he even had to prove himself in the tragic role presidents must play all too often, as consoler in chief after a mass shooting (the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 people dead).
Kaine’s political credentials are also unmatched. A former national party chairman and a former Catholic missionary to Honduras, he has never lost an election and has asolid approval rating in his state. He may not be Hispanic, but he speaks fluent Spanish. He comes from an important swing state with 13 electoral votes – more than twice as many as Iowa (home of another finalist, Agriculture secretary and former governor Tom Vilsack). And, key to Democratic dreams of a Senate majority, Kaine’s successor will be named by a Democrat — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Frankly, Hillary is not going to need her VP to be an attack dog against Trump and the Republicans. She will have Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and yes, Bernie Sanders to fill that role. Kaine is said to be very loyal and self-effacing; he will not overshadow her, and that is very important for the first woman to run for POTUS on a major party ticket.
Hillary and Tim’s optimism and competence will be a welcome contrast to the negativity of Donald Trump and the anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-labor Mike Pence.
Finally, Al Giordano loves Tim Kaine.
And on the other side of the 2016 presidential campaign . . .
The Washington Post editorial board: Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy.
DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.
Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.
Why are we so sure? Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower. Leading the Allied campaign to liberate Europe from the Nazis required strategic and political skills of the first order, and Eisenhower — though he liked to emphasize his common touch as he faced the intellectual Democrat Adlai Stevenson — was shrewd, diligent, humble and thoughtful.
In contrast, there is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him. Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.
The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact. Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jerseycelebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that heopposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie. It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief.
There’s a whole lot more of this kind of analysis at the link.
Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard (!): Donald Trump Is Crazy, and So Is the GOP for Embracing Him.
Yes, Donald Trump is crazy. And, yes, the Republican party owns his insanity.
Fewer than twelve hours after Republicans rallied in support of his nomination for the presidency, Trump once again implied that Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father, was involved in the JFK assassination. At a press availability during an event to thank campaign volunteers Friday morning, Trump revived suggestions that the elder Cruz was an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s assassin, and that they two were together months before the assassination.
“I don’t know his father. I met him once. I think he’s a lovely guy. I think he’s a lovely guy. All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead, he said Donald Trump—I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that, frankly, in many respects should be very respected.”
He continued: “Did anybody ever deny that it was the father? They’re not saying: ‘Oh, that wasn’t really my father.’ It was a little hard to do. It looked like him.”
Trump is still running against his GOP primary opponents! Read more at the link.
Quite a few journalists have begun examining Trump’s ties to Russia and his vocal admiration for Vladimir Putin. Some examples:
The Washington Post: Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin.
The NY Review of Books: Trump’s Putin Fantasy.
Paul Krugman: Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate.
Jeffrey Goldberg: It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin.
So . . . What do you think? And what other stories are you following today?