Saturday, July 02, 2016

Well... At Least Kaine Isn't As Bad As Lieberman Or A Republican


Could Obama have found 2 worse DNC chairs?

The first thing Rahm Emanuel wanted to do once Obama made him chief of staff was to fire Howard Dean as heard of the DNC. Kicking out Dean and his 50-state strategy was the beginning of Emanuel's catastrophic stint as "Obama's prime minister," a stint that led directly to the loss of 63 seats in the House-- replacing Pelosi with Boehner as Speaker-- and 6 seats in the Senate. Rahm wanted a harmless order-taker to replace the opinionated Dean as DNC Chair. The perfect candidate was the mediocre termed out governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, who has since gone on to be an unoffensive mediocre U.S. senator. A perfect example of the Peter Principle in action, Kaine is now a front-runner for the Clinton VP slot. He's just a cardboard demographic who stands for nothing and brings nothing to the ticket to encourage anyone who harbors any shred of hope that Clinton plans to respond to the populist sentiments rolling the whole western world. He's certainly not an Elizabeth Warren-- or even a Sherrod Brown. But he's available and he'd be replaced in the Senate by a Democratic governor.

Although... now it looks like a little scandal may derail him. Politico reported yesterday that he "took advantage of the state’s lax gift laws to receive an $18,000 Caribbean vacation, $5,500 in clothes and a trip to watch George Mason University play in the NCAA basketball Final Four during his years as lieutenant governor and governor... Kaine reported more than $160,000 in gifts from 2001 to 2009, mostly for travel to and from political events and conferences."

He didn't break any laws-- and no one has accused him of accepting these obvious bribes for an particular quid pro quos-- at least not yet-- but "Virginia’s standards are widely perceived as too permissive, especially in the wake of the McDonnell case. And even the appearance of lower standards could become an issue in the national spotlight."
“The danger here is that there’s already a narrative on Hillary Clinton: It’s crooked cronyism, and any pick or any other action that drives that narrative is going to be bad for her,” said Matt Moon, a former Republican National Committee deputy research director, communications director for the 2014 reelection campaign of Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and now executive vice president of opposition research consulting firm Delve. “If you’re on the Clinton campaign side, you want to look at potential vulnerabilities in how a VP pick would drive an opposition narrative.”

Kaine has acknowledged the defects with his state’s policies, especially compared with the federal restrictions he now faces as senator. “With no limit on the amount of such gifts and with the exceptions for friends and family so broad, Virginia’s system is all but guaranteed to create problems,” he wrote in a 2013 Washington Post op-ed. “The benefits of the federal rule are obvious. I regret that I didn’t propose adopting it when I was governor.”

Shortly after winning the governorship in 2005, Kaine and his family vacationed on the exclusive West Indies island of Mustique in a house belonging to Charlottesville-area investor James B. Murray Jr. Murray made a fortune investing in cellphones together with Kaine’s Senate predecessor, Mark Warner. Murray invited Kaine to spend a week at his house to relax after the campaign.

...Kaine also accepted $5,500 worth of clothes in 2003 and 2005 from Stuart C. Siegel, a close friend and campaign booster who was then chairman of a Virginia-based discount menswear company. The disclosure also lists a baccarat crystal vase, valued at $0. Siegel didn’t answer a request for comment through a foundation of which he’s a board member.

Most of the gifts came in the form of travel to conferences or campaign events. President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign gave Kaine $45,000 for airfare and lodging. Kaine’s own leadership committee, Moving Virginia Forward, footed $20,000 of travel expenses. The Democratic Party of Virginia paid almost $11,000.

Richmond-based power company Dominion gave Kaine $2,000 for travel to meetings of the Democratic Governors Association and Southern Governors Association and to watch George Mason University play in the NCAA Final Four in 2006. Kaine rode on Dominion’s jet because he missed the commercial flight he booked to attend a state legislator’s funeral. A regulated utility, Dominion lobbies the state on energy policy.

Teva Pharmaceuticals gave him $12,000 for the August 2006 Democratic Governors Association meeting in Aspen. The Israeli drug company lobbied the state government and later bought a facility in Forest, Virginia. BET co-founder Sheila C. Johnson treated him to $4,250 for two dinners, travel to a charity benefit and a trip to Denver. ADR Software CEO E. Scott Kasprowicz, a conservationist and an environmental advocate, paid $3,000 for travel to political and charity galas.
Politico had already noted earlier this week that Bernie supporters didn't like the idea of Kaine even before the scandal. Bill Scher reported that the safe, boring Kaine might be perfect for Hillary but is seen by the progressive wing of the party as "an establishment Wall Street Democrat [who] will do nothing but confirm to progressives she's learned nothing from this primary."
As many as 22 million potential voters in November are thought to be Sanders-leaning Democrats, and they’re looking for evidence that Clinton is paying some heed to the surprisingly strong insurgency of the socialist from Vermont. Bernie’s success was a clear anti-establishment uprising, strong enough that his supporters expect their agenda will now help shape the future of the party. But choosing Kaine may send them the opposite message: This is her party now, and you aren’t the ones calling the shots.

“Tim Kaine would be a perfect addition to the ticket,” said People for Bernie co-founder Charles Lenchner when asked by Politico Magazine how he would interpret such a pick “in that he would add no progressive backbone that might inconvenience Team Hillary when it's time to govern.”

...Kaine also appears partial to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, loathed by Sanders and his backers. He voted for the “fast track” bill protecting trade agreements from Senate filibusters, a necessary step for TPP ratification (though he said at the time that his vote was “not a blind endorsement of any pending trade negotiation.") And he welcomed the release of the TPP text by pushing back on a main criticism from the left about the process: “Contrary to claims that this is a ‘secret deal,’ the text is being made available—significantly earlier than required ... ” (Last week’s rejection of an anti-TPP plank in the initial Democratic platform by the drafting committee is roiling the left and may make the trade issue a major flash point at the convention.)

Kaine’s maneuvering is typical of a politician in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Which is exactly the problem: Sanders supporters don’t want a politician in the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

“Picking Kaine, a centrist, DLC [the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council] Democrat, who happens to have some scary positions on abortion and the deficit, would just confirm that Clinton is the triangulating, centrist, DLC Democrat who many Sanders supporters have claimed her to be,” scoffed Bernie-backer Katie Halper, host of her eponymous radio show on New York’s WBAI, to Politico Magazine, “It would send a message that she's not even pretending to pander to us, which is both refreshingly honest and alarming.”

The Republican National Committee is fully aware that Kaine could potentially widen the rift between populists and the Democratic establishment, dropping an unusual oppo dump this week which captured every right-leaning position Kaine has ever taken-- including support for offshore oil drilling off the Virginia coast-- and declaring, “Tapping The Virginia Senator Would Be A Slap in The Face To Bernie Backers.” (This may have been the first time in history the RNC publicly expressed concern for the feelings of democratic socialists.)

It’s clear that a Kaine pick would be beyond disappointing for Bernie loyalists, especially after a season of electrifying rallies and primary wins that demonstrated the genuine populist energy in the party’s young base. But would Kaine really damage Clinton’s bottom line in the main thing she cares about, the popular vote total in November?

Even in Sanders circles, opinions diverge. Shaun King, the New York Daily News' senior Justice writer and Black Lives Matter activist, a Bernie booster, warned that Kaine could be a huge bust: “Her choice of VP, if not someone truly progressive, will seal the deal for many of us to vote elsewhere.” But Halper argues Clinton need not worry: “Neither I, nor any single Sanders supporter I know, is on the fence about who they want to win the general. And nobody is saying, ‘If Clinton names Elizabeth Warren, she has my vote. If she names Kaine, I'm voting for Trump’ … The role of vice president is largely symbolic.”

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At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So perfectly typical of my Dem Party's establishment to sabotage its biggest outright general election win of the modern era, 2008, by throwing overboard Dean and his strategy to engage Dems everywhere, which brought a synergy and passionate hope to the party. 2008 could have easily become a huge generational shift to the Dems, if the party only would have consolidated its wins and momentum. Instead it said screw the party's heartfelt majority and tie us to Wall Street tighter and for longer. Now in 2016 we'll be lucky to hold on with our fingernails as America's underlying White Backlash (backwash?!) erupts violently into our politics, because we threw away our advantages.

At 3:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely coorect. There is nothing "wrong" with Tim Kaine. And there is nothing right with him either. He just occupies space, breathes air, says "yes" when told to, and has a (D) next to his name. He is the perfect lieutenant – a place holder, nothing more and nothing less.


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