Citizen Kaine

I like Tim Kaine, Hilary Clinton’s pick for vice-president. I like him so much that I prefer him for president. He’s vibrant, vital, and has a great narrative. There are only 20 Americans who have ever done what he’s done: been a mayor, a governor and a senator.

As a Harvard law student, he didn’t work summers at some white-shoe law firm, he volunteered with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. While he was teaching carpentry to teenagers in that country, they taught him Spanish. Odd, wasn’t it, that when he addressed the crowd in Florida on Saturday, that CNN – who must have known he’d speak some Spanish – had no translation capacity. Unlike most Anglo-Canadian politicians who say a few sentences in French and then utter the same words in English, Kaine did not translate his own material so most of us were left guessing what he might have said.

To be sure, Kaine has some baggage. As a traditional Catholic, he’s against abortion, although he has walked a fine political line, not interfering with a woman’s right to choose. He’s also against capital punishment, but as governor of Virginia sent 11 convicted criminals to their deaths, arguing that he was simply following the law as it was written.

As Kaine spoke, I was intrigued by Hilary’s response as she sat on a stool behind him. When he wasn’t talking about himself, he was talking about her. And every time he did, she sat up a little straighter and her smile broadened as she preened over his blandishments. You’d think after all these years in public life that such accolades wouldn’t matter to her, but obviously they do. It was almost as if she’s running for the praise she receives, not the policy she espouses.

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