The selection of Joe Biden, the oldest functioning white liberal senator with a foreign policy background who is Catholic with hair-plugs in the Democratic party, must have come as quite a shock to many people, but none so much as Kathleen Sebelius.
Remember her? You won’t for long. The governor of Kansas, who, until last weekend’s text message, thought she was but one shoe-click away from being transported from the political tundra of Kansas to the humidified compost of Washington, D.C., has her TV moment in Denver tonight.
She will talk about energy or women or energetic women. She’ll also mention change. She may also come down hard on the side of the economy, which she favors, and the environment, which she thinks should be green — a dream of many Kansans. Then she’ll vanish. Next stop: the capital of Kansas and the relative obscurity of a Midwestern governorship in a country that has only two Democratic precincts that count: East Coast and West Coast.
She could’ve been a contender. Conventional wisdom has it that she was passed over because Clinton tribal leaders would have rioted if somebody other than their woman got the vice-presidential nomination.
But there are at least a half-dozen other reasons why Sebelius is addressing the convention tonight instead of tomorrow night, when Joe Biden steps into the limelight (and, given his playful way with words, possibly into his own mouth).
She’s another political novelty.
The Democrats are nominating an African-American guy most people had never heard of when spring training began. That’s different. But nominating a woman most Americans have never heard of is double jeopardy. Outside Kansas, “Kathleen Sebelius” is a household name only to people whose houses are condos inside a beltway. The single note of familiarity: she shares that lacquered gray-helmet hair-do made famous, if not popular, by John Kerry.
The similarity ends there. Ideologically, she’s far more liberal than Kerry and, in many respects, more liberal than even Obama.
She’s another environmental extremist.
Henry Payne has already reported Sebelius’s nutty embrace of the environmental movement in blocking the expansion of a badly needed power plant in western Kansas, far from any meaningful vote tallies. She did this on health grounds, by the way, arguing that power plants emit carbon dioxide and babies have to breathe that stuff. (Because if they didn’t, they’d die.) She advocated instead a reliance on “renewable” energy sources. Plain-English translation: When it comes to energy sources, Sebelius tilts toward windmills. But in blocking the construction of that power plant, she also blocked construction of the power lines that would have given the windmills some use other than conking birds, of which Kansas has many, on their little beaky noggins.