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Tags: Tim Kaine

“Post-Constitution Day” for Tim Kaine and the Senate Democrats



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If September 17th was Constitution Day, then the 18th must have been Post-Constitution Day, right? 

Generally I’ve critical of conservative thinkers, such as Mark Levin, when they say we now live in a post-Constitutional order.  I just don’t think that’s accurate, even though we’re rather plausibly on the way there.  But this last Thursday sure provided some uncanny evidence in support of that idea.

Item:  whereas on September 16th, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine published an editorial in the NYT insisting that Obama had to have authorization from Congress to wage war against ISIS, on September 18th, he supported his Democratic Senate colleagues’ decision to delay a vote on the war until after the election!  

This, despite the fact that for many months, Kaine has been talking up his efforts to develop and promote bipartisan legislation, which he calls the War Powers Consultation Act of 2014, that would better allow Congress to resist unilateral attempts by the executive branch to make decisions about war (part of the bill requires a vote after seven days of combat) and peppering this talk with quotations from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and effusions of patriotic love for that wise document, the Constitution.  If Tim Kaine is looking for another illustrious quote of old with which to make his case, allow me to recommend these words from a prayer of the younger Augustine:  “Lord, make me chaste!  But not yet!”

Perhaps that is unfair—for a man like Kaine has to work with the Democratic Senate, and the Democratic base, that he’s got.  Time will win them over to his view, and to a more consistent application of his principles. 

But no, that’s not it.  Bottom line:  Kaine could have opposed this.   He could have said, “My colleagues aren’t quite with me yet, and the ISIS situation is indeed a confusing one, but eventually they’ll see that their decision to delay a vote on these war actions was a mistake, that the principle of congressional war-initiation-oversight we’re hopefully going to more clearly enshrine always requires Congress to quickly give an initial yea or nay vote.”  Again, that’s not my constitutional principle, but Kaine’s.  I respectfully disagree with it, but regard it as a classic and more-often-than-not salutary American political belief.  But Kaine made no stand for the principle, but reversed his whole position—at least until after the election—and hoped no-one would notice.  


Item:  whereas by Congressional legislation and Presidential declaration, September 17th has for many years now been celebrated by all government offices as Constitution Day, on September 18th, fifty Democratic Senators, with Tim Kaine among them, voted against a bill’s amendment that would have allowed a congressional vote upon President Obama’s promise to unilaterally issue an unprecedented in scope and baldly unconstitutional amnesty for many millions of illegal immigrants.  

When does Obama promise to do this? After the election, when else?

How would Obama’s promise, if kept, violate the Constitution?  Let us count the clauses. There’s the 1) take-care clause, 2) the presentment clause, 3) the clauses pertaining to the veto, of course understood in the light of judicial rulings that they do not permit line-item vetoes, and finally 4), there’s that pesky clause right at the beginning of Article 1:  “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” But the Senate refuses to even cast a vote upon this promise to steal their own power!

A few hardy souls, such as Eric Posner, have tried to argue that the promised amnesty would not violate the take-care clause, and that the action in is no way de facto legislation.  The embarrassing thing for Democrats, however, is that Posner is an outright Executive-Branch Supremacist, and that his arguments were easily demolished, both by conservative columnist Ross Douthat and by many of the liberal commenters upon his original TNR piece.  But alas, most Americans don’t know the news.  

James Madison, whose wisdom is so extolled by Kaine, wrote in Federalist 51, a document which tens of thousands of teachers have taught to young Americans as representing the truth about their Constitution, that

…the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others.

Congress is supposed to resist when the President encroaches upon their powers.  And one would think, the more blatant the encroachment, the greater the resistance.  But for some reason, our congressional Democrats have lost all motive to resist.  One might compare their attitude with that displayed by quite a few Democratic representatives of 1937, when FDR pushed to expand the Supreme Court, albeit by means of completely-constitutional legislation, and lost the vote in the Democrat-dominated Congress handily.  But the Democrats of these latter days resist nothing, and what BHO promises is even worse, being nothing but an unconstitutional substitute for legislation.

And make no mistake, it might alter our system as much as an enlarged Supreme Court would have.  If the Democrats allow Obama to do this, the next Republican president will win acquiescence from his party to his issuing an executive order of similar magnitude and unconstitutionality, perhaps unleashing a tit-for-tat dynamic that becomes a permanent feature of our system, de facto granting every future president some unspecified number of Super-Executive Orders.  A few smart liberals like Jonathan Chait have issued warnings of this kind, but no-one in Democratic political or MSM circles heeds such, not even the rumored-to-exist moderate-minded Constitution-reverencing Democratic representatives, the kind that Kaine aspires to appear to be. 

So, whatever the future holds for us, which I hope and pray will include a return to more serious allegiance to the Constitution, every teacher of Federalist 51 will from now on struggle to respond to a single pungent argument against its reasoning: “But, 2014!” 


It’s all pretty “Scary Stuff,” Senator Kaine.  And I say that after last week, that’s as much your foot trampling the Constitution there as it is Obama’s. Any possibility that you might give us some reassurances to the contrary?  You don’t face election for four years.  Are you going to step up and lead in matters constitutional?  Say, by finally answering questions like this one?  I’m sure those Republicans who take your position on what the Constitution requires with war-powers would like to believe you that you have some level of sincere devotion to the document, before they consider supporting your bill.  I’m looking to the broader future, however,  If you are not, as I think is now apparent, going to be the leader these polarized times call for, might you know of any up-and-coming Democratic stars, who are prepared to more fully assure their non-Democratic brothers and sisters that the Constitution still rules us all?  

You can get back to me anytime.  Even, if you wish, after the election.

Tags: Tim Kaine , Constitution , amnesty , war-powers

Scary Stuff



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If our president keeps flouting the Separation of P’s,

just what should a good D say? 

Say little, say nothing, or cheerfully reply,

“Okay!”

Jonathan Chait writes a piece titled “Obama’s Immigration Plan Should Scare Liberals, Too.”  He supports the policy content of the plan, which would grant “temporary” legal status to up to 5 million illegal aliens, but opposes the manner of its proposed effectuation, which would be an executive declaration followed by non-enforcement of the existing law against those granted the legal status.   For more details on the rumored-to-be-in-consideration plan, which I call “Big Amnesty,” see Ross Douthat’s important editorial against it.  I have noticed only one weak denial that it is in consideration from a White House spokesperson, and there has certainly been no promise from Obama that it is now off the table for good.

Liberals should be scared by this, definitely.  I applaud Chait for saying so.  His piece has a few flaws, however.

First, he never uses the word “unconstitutional.”  Odd, isn’t it?  Well, if you read his piece twice, you’ll notice that Chait actually speaks of this as a debate not about violations of the Constitution, but about violations of nowhere-written-down “norms” of congressional and presidential behavior that he says are needed to maintain our Constitution.  Apparently, none of Obama’s actions (unlike several taken by the Republican House) have so far violated those “norms,” but the Big Amnesty would violate them.  Chait’s framing of things in this way lets him avoid having to say whether Obama’s previous law-suspension actions violated the Constitution or not.  Clever.

Second, his piece is too short, and too drained of passion.  Where are the two-thousand words of outrage against what has been an obscene lack of liberal opposition to this proposal?  Where are the high-toned calls for Democrats to forthrightly support the Constitution?  My self-promoting joking aside, his piece does lack the requisite urgency of tone.  And its timing, coming two-and-a-half weeks after Obama first floated of the Big Amnesty idea, similarly undercuts the feeling that this is something worth being scared about.    

Finally, nowhere in the piece does he demand of Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) an answer to this simple question posed to him many months ago by a Weekly Standard reporter:  “Are there any parts of Obamacare that the president can’t suspend?”  

I bring it up here, because that question that cuts to the heart of the debate.  I think reporters should be asking every Democratic representative and candidate that question.  For clarity’s sake I’d rephrase it this way:

“Are there any parts of Obamacare that it would be unconstitutional for the president to suspend?”   

Senator Kaine’s response to the question was to dodge it, and to excuse his not replying on the grounds that “he is not a scholar.”  Of course, upon other more complex topics regarding executive power he presents himself as rather scholarly, quite concerned with the Founders’ intentions, and ready to answer all questions of constitutional and legal detail. 

Few Democrats will prove willing to answer the question, because even though it might seem to make intuitive sense to allow a president to make a few minor changes to a very complex law so as to allow its main work to be done effectively, they can find nothing in the Constitution that permits such.  In fact, no non-arbitrary rule for limiting such could be formulated for any constitution.  How few is few?  How minor is minor?  How complex must the law be?  Etc.

Thus, the real answer to the question would either be that 1) our actual politics allow every president as many violations of the Constitution as he or she can get away with in the court of public opinion, so that the “not getting away with it” prospect of Obama’s Big Amnesty plan, and the “Republican presidents might now do the same” prospect are the only really scary things about it, or 2) that presidents can refuse to enforce any parts of any law, up to all parts of said “laws.” 

2) means a Republican president could refuse to enforce Obamacare entirely, and any other law they dislike.  If you accept 2), you accept reducing the separation of powers merely to this:  a president can’t exactly pass a law by himself, but out the mass of federal laws on the books, he can “carve out” via non-enforcement suspensions whatever new legal landscape he wishes.  Such non-enforcement suspensions are de facto vetoes, but are not, like constitutional vetoes, subject to being overridden nor prohibited from being “line-item.”   

I don’t see how this ditching of our Constitution’s basic structure isn’t precisely what Eric Posner advocated last week when he offered one of the only serious defenses of the legality of the president’s proposal.  When the bells and whistles of his argument are removed, it basically boils down to this:  when a president decides Congress is “in gridlock” about an issue he believes is pressing, he may suspend the enforcement of laws as he sees fit to resolve said issue, and public opinion will provide the necessary restraint against unlimited use of this remarkable power.  Eric Posner’s truly scary TNR editorial is here, and Ross Douthat’s reply to it is here.  

But here’s the thing:  forthright scholar that he is, Posner is simply illustrating with clarity and consistency the position on domestic executive power that most Democrats actually now hold, whether they can admit it to themselves or not.  Chait would resist the idea that he has to agree with Posner, and that is to his credit.  But nonetheless, he is in a tricky position, for unlike those, such as the liberal scholar Jonathan Turley, who unambiguously denounced Obama’s various non-enforcement suspensions of 2013-2014 as—there’s that pesky word again!–unconstitutional, Chait’s now opposing the proposed Big Amnesty law-suspension has to be squared with his not opposing the smaller instances of the same type of action.  I’m not a Chait-watcher, but I take it that he either played the ignorance card about those earlier violations, as Kaine did, or if that was too ridiculous for him, tried to change the subject of the debate to one about policy, or to one about abrogation of his posited constitution-supporting “norms.”  But the main question, about whether this proposed action would violate and the earlier actions did violate the Constitution itself, is very easy to answer.  No, the Constitution does not allow a president to repeal laws or parts of laws.  And to say or imply that the “little repeals” are allowed, is to logically endorse larger ones. 

The Democratic Party’s dodging all serious talk about the constitutionality of the little repeals may have invited Obama’s scary Big Amnesty trial balloon; and alas, its continued silence even as that omen of constitution-abandonment malevolently hovers over there on the edge of our current affairs, a silence interrupted only by a few disgruntled noises such as Chait’s piece, indicates that Posner’s “okay, president” position really could become the one that the Democratic Party openly endorses from here on out.

P.S.  Mr. Chait, or sure, Mr. Posner, if you happen to see this, what would your answer be to the question put to Senator Kaine?

P.P.S–UPDATE:  Looks likelier now that Chait’s delayed timing in addressing the Big Amnesty proposal was due to his hearing new indications that Obama is going to do it.  That seems to also be what Mark Krikorian is hearing, who has an excellent piece today that walks you through the constitutional issues he compares Obama’s “little Amnesty” action in 2012, his pre-2012 delaying of enforcement, and pre-Obama era executive grants of temporary status, to the Big Amnesty proposal.  The constitutional issues here are slightly less straightforward than with his suspensions of Obamacare provisions, but Mark helps you sort them out.  The guiding question nonetheless remains, ““Are there any parts of Obamacare, or immigration law, that it would be unconstitutional for the president to suspend?”     

Tags: Jonathan Chait , Tim Kaine , Eric Posner , Constitution

Virginia’s Long Tradition of Expensive Gifts to Governors



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It’s bothersome when an elected official accepts an expensive gift from a donor or person who has business before the state or federal government; even when there’s no explicit quid pro quo, there’s the nagging sense that the official is profiting off their office.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, is ending his term with a daily stream of odious stories of accepting gifts from donors – more than $150,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a nutritional supplement maker.

However, it’s worth noting that McDonnell is not the first Virginia governor to accept large gifts from donors while in office. He seems to just be the first one to get a lot of grief from the Washington Post day after day about it.

There was McDonnell’s immediate predecessor, Tim Kaine, now one of the state’s two senators:

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, accepted an $18,000 Caribbean vacation last year, putting him atop the list of Virginia elected officials who in 2005 accepted nearly $315,000 in gifts, trips, concert tickets and other gratuities from corporations, interest groups and wealthy persons.

The newly elected governor’s winter getaway on Mustique — a private island playground for rock stars and royalty — was paid for by Albemarle County investor James B. Murray Jr.

Murray had contributed $41,000 to Kaine’s campaigns up to that point, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Kaine reappointed Murray to the Virginia Commission on Higher Education Appointments.

The VPAP site reveals that since 2001, Kaine received $186,899 in gifts and travel – Redskins tickets, cases of wine, etc.

Before Kaine, Virginia’s governor was Mark Warner, now the state’s other senator. Between 2001 and 2004, Warner received $190,362 in gifts and travel – $495 bottles of wine, a $450 “handmade dulcimer,” etc.

Today Terry McAuliffe called on Ken Cuccinelli to give back $18,000 in gifts from Williams. (Compared with Williams’ gifts to McDonnell, perhaps he didn’t like Cuccinelli that much.) We’ll see if McAuliffe finds the gifts to Kaine and Warner bothersome. My guess is, McAuliffe – whose life’s work is ensuring wealthy donors feel sufficiently rewarded by lawmakers – is only bothered by donor gifts to Republican lawmakers. 

Tags: Tim Kaine , Mark Warner , Bob McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

Did the Post Forget Who Was Virginia’s Governor in 2008?



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The University of Virginia’s governing board of visitors suddenly dismissed university president Teresa Sullivan, a move that has generated a lot of confusion and anger on the campus. Sullivan had been in the position only two years, and it seems almost no one on campus knew the board was contemplating this move.

The Washington Post covers the story, with an . . . odd sentence:

In a telephone interview Monday, the leader of the board, Rector Helen E. Dragas, said the board would be vindicated in due time.

“It’s really too early to judge this decision,’’ Dragas said. “This decision should be judged after a new president is installed.”

Dragas, a Virginia Beach developer who was named to the board by a Democratic governor in 2008, said the board had voiced “overwhelming support” for replacing Sullivan. Dragas denied the move had any “political considerations.”

Didn’t that Democratic governor have a name? Wasn’t it “Tim Kaine”? The same Tim Kaine who’s running for U.S. Senate this year?

What’s really odd is that Kaine does get mentioned a few paragraphs later:

The board’s decision, made last week, was unanimous, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The board, with 16 voting members, is split equally between those appointed by McDonnell and by his predecessor, Timothy M. Kaine.

So what was this? Poor editing, or an effort to obscure Kaine’s connection to a board’s controversial decision?

Tags: Tim Kaine , Washington Post

Debt Increases Nearly $49K Per Second Under Obama



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In the middle of verifying a Tim Kaine accusation against George Allen in the Virginia Senate race, PolitiFact offers a jaw dropping figure that any critic of Obama would find useful:

So, the real period of influence Allen had on federal spending ran from Oct. 1, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2007. The national debt rose by $3.202 billion during that span and, as we pointed out in a Truth-O-Meter earlier this year, Allen voted for each of about four dozen appropriation bills that came to the Senate floor during his term.

In other words, Allen voted for budgets that increased the debt by $16,896.68 every second he was in the Senate. That’s slightly higher than Kaine’s estimate.

But before you get angry at Allen, consider this: The debt has increased by $48,994.13 a second since Barack Obama became president. And Kaine, who served as Obama’s hand-picked chairman of the Democratic National Committee for two years before resigning in April, is a staunch defender of the president.

Sounds like a ready-made ad, no? “When Obama’s administration spends* more than $48,000 per second, how can any of us afford four more years?”

* As noted in the comments, the issue isn’t really that the Obama administration spends more than $48,000 per second, but that they increase the debt by more than $48,000 per second!

Tags: Barack Obama , George Allen , Tim Kaine

The NRSC Has a Feeling About Tim Kaine’s Feeling



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Is Barack Obama a liability in Virginia, the swing state he’s traveling through today? The National Republican Senatorial Committee certainly thinks so, in this ad unveiled this morning:

Tim Kaine will have a tougher time separating himself from Obama than your average Democrat, as he was Obama’s pick to be DNC chair and served in that role during his final year as governor.

Notice this line in today’s Washington Post:

The White House had considered stops in Danville, Newport News, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg. But prominent Democrats in Virginia — where Obama’s approval rating hovers around 50 percent — encouraged the White House to alter the schedule so he would no longer visit districts where members of his party were involved in tight elections. Instead, Obama will speak at a high school in Emporia on Tuesday, and Langley Air Force Base in Hampton and a fire station in Chesterfield County outside Richmond on Wednesday. He will be joined by first lady Michelle Obama in Hampton.

Guess who isn’t appearing with Obama during this trip through the state? Tim Kaine.

So when the Post refers to “prominent Democrats in Virginia” — who else could they be talking about besides Tim Kaine?

Tags: Barack Obama , Tim Kaine

A Tale of Two Governors, Two States, and Two Parties



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This morning the Republican Governors Association is chuckling over the newest sharp contrast between their chairman and the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (and governor of a neighboring state).

Just days after Virginia governor Bob McDonnell announced a $544 million surplus, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley told county leaders Saturday that Maryland may need to increase taxes to solve a $1 billion budget gap next year.

What makes the contrast even more striking is the fact that McDonnell previously balanced an inherited $4.2 billion budget deficit that Gov. Tim Kaine had said could only be closed with a $2 billion tax increase, while O’Malley has already signed the largest tax increase in Maryland history during his first term.

Both states benefit from the hiring spree and rare layoffs in the federal government, but the unemployment rate in Virginia is 6.1 percent, while the unemployment rate in Maryland is 7.2 percent.

Tags: Bob McDonnell , DGA , Martin O'Malley , RGA , Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine, Quickly Echoing Obama on NLRB



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For weeks, the campaign of Republican Senate candidate George Allen has been trying to get their potential general-election opponent, former DNC Chair and Gov. Tim Kaine, to address the National Labor Relations Board decision barring Boeing from moving operations to a plant in South Carolina.

It is a classic divide-the-opposition move; Virginia is a right-to-work state, and unions are neither particularly powerful nor popular here. Yet as a Democrat, Kaine can’t afford to overtly alienate his party’s most powerful ally in organized labor.

For many weeks, the Kaine campaign had no comment on the ongoing NLRB controversy.

Then, yesterday, in his press conference, President Obama was asked about the NLRB lawsuit: ”It’s an independent agency and it’s going before a judge, so I don’t want to get into all the details of the case. I don’t know all the facts.  That’s going to be up to a judge to decide. What I do know is this — that as a general proposition, companies need to have the freedom to relocate.”

Strangely enough, a few hours later, the Kaine campaign did have a statement on the matter! It went like this: 

Governor Kaine supports the existing law that a company can open, locate or relocate wherever it wants… Of course, it has long been the law that a company cannot retaliate against employees for bargaining activity. The current NLRB case isn’t about the right to locate anywhere, it’s about the narrow question of whether Boeing is acting specifically to retaliate against its own employees. That factual question will be decided by the courts.

The question that remains is the one that haunts all great ventriloquist acts, can Tim Kaine speak while Barack Obama is drinking water?

Tags: Barack Obama , George Allen , Tim Kaine

Poll: Obama’s Approval Rating in Virginia Now 34%



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I’ll admit, I figured that most polling, examining a potential Virginia Senate race matchup between the GOP’s former governor and Sen. George Allen and Democrats’ former Gov. Tim Kaine would show a close race.

But at least one poll says otherwise, at least at this point:

In a very early look at the possible battle for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Webb, registered voters in the Commonwealth preferred former Gov. and U.S. Sen. George Allen, a Republican, over former Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, by 45 percent to 32 percent with 23 percent undecided.

The pollster notes that margin of error for this question was + 5.2 percent because it was asked only of the 360 registered voters in the sample, a little larger than one would like, and note it’s registered voters, not likely voters.

Also note “Among the battleground groups, Kaine led among political moderates (41%-34%), while Allen led among Independent voters (40%-35%). Not surprisingly, Allen led among Republicans (78%-4%) and conservatives (68%-10%) while Kaine led among Democrats (79%-12%) and liberals (83%-10%).”

Hear that? 12 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of self-described liberals would vote for George Allen over Tim Kaine.

My governor, Bob McDonnell, is pretty darn popular, according to this poll; they find his approval rating is now 66 percent, up from 57 percent in December.

Meanwhile, the “Obama can win Virginia again” argument just took a hit: “With regard to the nation, 71 percent of respondents believe that things are on the wrong track with only 20 percent believing that things are going in the right direction. This is essentially unchanged from December. President Obama’s approval rating is now 34 percent, compared to 36 percent in December, well within the polls’ margin of error.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bob McDonnell , George Allen , Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine, Aiming for the Senate in 2012



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As noted in the Corner, Tim Kaine is in.

Peter Hamby of CNN notices that the words “DNC” and “Obama” do not appear in the announcement video.

Pat Mullins, the chairman of the Republican party of Virginia, welcomes Kaine to the race:

For the past two years Tim Kaine has been President Obama’s biggest advocate in Washington.  From the failed stimulus packages, to the budget busting spending bills that have increased our national debt at record levels, Tim Kaine has been there every step of the way making the case for a bigger and more intrusive federal government. 

Now he wants to return to Virginia to run for the U.S. Senate.  I do not believe the people of Virginia want another big spending Senator in Washington, and that is exactly what Tim Kaine would be.  They want someone who will work to cut spending, reduce the size and scope of the federal government, and bring fiscal responsibility to Congress.

UPDATE: I would urge all Campaign Spot readers to put aside any partisan or ideological differences with the new candidate and visit his web site, www.TimKaine.com.

Tags: DNC , Tim Kaine

Class Hears Tim Kaine Is Running For Senate?



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Score one for the frustrated girlfriend: There is now a report that former Virginia governor Tim Kaine has told his University of Richmond class that he is a candidate for U.S. Senate.

Tags: George Allen , Tim Kaine

NRSC Says Tim Kaine Is a Leader, Sort Of



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The National Republican Senatorial Committee prepares the ground for a Tim Kaine senatorial bid, with a pretty funny web ad:

 

The expectation has been that Kaine would run since Webb announced his retirement last month. And yet, Kaine is, at least publicly, still thinking about it.

Recall my theory. At least some part of Tim Kaine doesn’t want to run for Senate.

Maybe he finds the job of running the DNC too… cheery?

Tags: NRSC , Tim Kaine

The Frustrated Girlfriend Theory of Political Decision Making



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A few weeks ago, I correctly predicted that Sen. Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, would not run for reelection. While I pointed to a couple of different pieces of evidence — low fund-raising, Webb’s initial goals when running for office, his previous surprise departures from high-level positions — a key factor is what I’ll call the Frustrated Girlfriend Theory of Political Decision Making.

How many of you know, or have known, a woman who wondered, for a long stretch of time, whether her boyfriend would propose marriage? Looks like a lot of you. The frustrated girlfriends tend to not recognize a pattern in my years of study of human behavior: Men who want to propose tend to tip their hand by actually proposing.*

Sure, there are exceptions, as when the guy is saving up for a ring or other factors. But generally, if a man wants to do something, he does it. He doesn’t spend an enormous amount of time waiting around for the precise right moment to do it. You can chalk it up to impatience, testosterone, or evolutionary psychology; the romantic in me will cite Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

I suspect that when you realize you want to spend the next years of your life duking it out in the political arena, you want to jump into the political arena as soon as possible.

As 2011 began, Webb hadn’t yet announced a decision that is almost pro forma for first-term senators, that he was going to run for reelection. The lack of an announcement suggested Webb wasn’t itching to jump back onto the campaign trail, and those who are looking for reasons to not run tend to find them. Now we see another figure in Virginia politics, Tim Kaine, still publicly undecided on a decision that many seem to think is a foregone conclusion . . .

DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan tells CNN that there’s been no change in the timetable for the former Virginia governor to decide if he’ll make a Senate bid. Earlier this month, after Democratic Sen. Jim Webb announced that he wouldn’t run for re-election next year, the DNC said that Kaine would decide by early March.

Kaine spoke by phone with President Barack Obama last week about a potential Senate bid in Virginia. And the President told television station WWBT in Richmond, Virginia that he thinks Kaine “would be a great senator from Virginia if he chose to do that.”

The conventional wisdom is that the White House is pressuring Kaine to run to keep the seat in party hands, but a source with knowledge of the situation tells CNN that the White House is giving Kaine space on this decision and that there’s “no arm twisting at any level.”

Obama’s made his sales pitch, and Kaine is still undecided. I think we can conclude that if he really wanted to run, he would have announced by now.

* I suppose the genders could be reversed, but I haven’t personally encountered many examples of that.

Tags: Jim Webb , Tim Kaine

Virginia GOP to Kaine: Welcome Back, Timmy



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The Virginia Republican party welcomes back Tim Kaine, expecting that he will indeed run for that state’s Senate seat:

Tags: Tim Kaine

Perriello: No, No, After You, Tim.



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Looks like Virginia Democrats have their Senate candidate pecking order: First former governor Tim Kaine, then former congressman Tom Perriello.

The Post:

Former Rep. Tom Perriello (D) said Wednesday that he would “consider” running to succeed retiring Virginia Sen. James Webb (D) in 2012, but only if Tim Kaine decides not to make the race. In his first interview since Webb announced his decision last week, Perriello said he agreed with other prominent Virginia Democrats in hoping that Kaine — the former governor and current Democratic National Committee chairman — would decide to run for Senate. Virginians from both parties are waiting to hear Kaine’s decision, even as some Democrats make the case that Perriello should run.

Still, there’s potential for an inspiringly casual slogan: “Tom Perriello: He’s Only Running Because No One Else Wanted To.”

Tags: Tim Kaine , Tom Perriello

Is Tim Kaine’s Decision Coming Soon?



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This little bit of news is likely to . . . er . . . well, I was going to say, “raise some eyebrows,” but maybe I should avoid that metaphor in references to Tim Kaine.

Former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is expected to speak with President Barack Obama in the next day or two before deciding whether to re-enter elective politics and run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic incumbent Jim Webb in 2012.

In a brief conversation with the Richmond Times-Dispatch Tuesday morning, Kaine, Obama’s handpicked chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he could discuss the issue with the president as early as today.

UPDATE: A quick way of how to think of this meeting: Obama wouldn’t bother to talk to Kaine to discourage him from running, so it’s pretty likely Obama will ask him to run. And since Kaine’s current day job is head of the Democratic National Committee, appointed by Obama and effectively serving at his pleasure, the chances of Kaine turning down Obama’s request that he run are slim to none.

Tags: Tim Kaine

As Predicted, Jim Webb Won’t Run for Reelection in 2012



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I don’t want to say “see, I told you so” . . .

Virginia Senator Jim Webb plans to announce today that he won’t seek reelection, a senior Senate source said.

. . . but see, I did tell you so:

“Call me crazy, but I think Virginia Sen. Jim Webb’s not going to run for reelection next year.”

Always trust Campaign Spot!

UPDATE: A confident but less accurate prediction from the man most Virginia Democrats expect will run for this seat: “My full expectation is that I’m going to be supporting a great Virginia Democrat and I believe that Virginia Democrat will be Jim Webb for the Senate seat,” DNC chair Tim Kaine said.

In that interview, Kaine said he wouldn’t run if Webb retired, but . . . that decision may change now that the possibility of an open seat is a reality.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Republican party of Virginia is preparing for a Kaine bid. From RPV Chairman Pat Mullins:

With Senator Webb’s announcement today that he will retire rather than face Virginia voters and have to defend his record, the Democrats efforts to cling to a thin majority in the U.S. Senate took a big hit.

This couldn’t be worse news for the Democrats. Now, instead of facing the most hotly contested Senate race in the country with the advantages of incumbency, they must deal with a nomination contest and then face a Republican candidate in the fall in a state that has overwhelming rejected nearly every Democrat since President Obama was sworn into office.  Senator Webb’s announcement makes their slim majority in the U.S. Senate look all the more precarious. 

I expect that in the days ahead we will learn that our former part-time Governor and full-time partisan-in-chief DNC Chairman Tim Kaine will announce his intention to run and we look forward to reminding Virginians of his legacy of broken promises, higher taxes, and unbridled support of President Obama’s agenda.

Meanwhile, here’s George Allen’s response to the news:

I respect Senator Webb’s service to our country and the very personal decision that he and his family have made. I did not enter into this race to run against any one person, but to fight for the families of Virginia to improve their opportunities in life. My campaign will continue to focus on achievable reforms that will help reinvigorate our economy, end reckless, runaway spending, and unleash our plentiful energy resources.

Tags: Jim Webb , Tim Kaine

Yes We Can? No, He Kaine Not



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From the first Morning Jolt of 2011 . . .

The Kaine Monotony

Yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union, guest host Ed Henry pressed Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine on why President Obama had not successfully reduced the unemployment rate during his first two years in office. Kaine’s answer hemmed and hawed and meandered here and there in the manner of the Mississippi River, but it offered enough excuses to set up a headline at The Blaze declaring: “DNC Chair Kaine Admits Obama Was Too Busy With Wars and Obamacare to Care About American Jobs.” Er, not in those particular words, exactly, but you can watch the video to judge for yourself.

Jim Hoft yawns: “Of course, this comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been following this regime the past two years . . . DNC Chairman Tim Kaine admitted that Barack Obama was too busy with ‘wars and Obamacare’ to care about jobs.”

“. . . and golfing, vacationing, snuffing out American exceptionalism etc.,” adds Weasel Zippers.

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey takes issue with two of Kaine’s other lines: “‘He stopped one of them’? Actually, that was George Bush who ‘stopped’ the war in Iraq, thanks to the surge strategy that Obama opposed and repeatedly assailed in public . . . until it worked. It was Bush that signed the Status of Forces Agreement with the Nouri al-Maliki government, which Obama has wisely chosen to follow rather than implement the 16-month withdrawal he demanded as a candidate on the campaign trail. You’ll notice that Obama has been in office 24 months, and that we still have tens of thousands of troops in Iraq, don’t you, Governor Kaine? Bush ‘stopped’ the war in Iraq by winning it. On jobs, Kaine wants to argue that ObamaCare has been a net job creator as well as a significant deficit reducer. Thanks to the doc-fix legislation passed this year, the latter claim is now defunct. I’d also love to see the actual dynamic analysis as to how many actual jobs — outside of government — ObamaCare has produced, and then we can compare that to the drag on private-sector job creation it has caused with its additional cost burdens and uncertainties.”

Also breaking yesterday was word that Kaine is sticking around as DNC chair: “Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said Sunday that he plans to stay at the helm of the national party another two years because that’s where President Obama wants him to serve.

“‘My agreement with the president is I was going to do what he wants me to do,’ Kaine said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘And what I know sitting here today is he wants me to continue in this spot and that’s what I’m going to do with excitement, you know, traveling all around the country, going through the TSA lines like everybody else, going out and being the president’s advocate and promoter. And it’s a wonderful job and I intend continue it.’”

This is a small miracle for Republicans. Of course, you can’t lay all of Democrats’ woes for the past two years at the feet of Kaine, but he spent most of 2009 being pilloried for failing to finish his day job as governor of Virginia, and it seems pretty clear that Kaine’s full-time focus wasn’t the big plus the committee was looking for. How, exactly, would Tim Kaine handle an end-of-the-year review at any other organization? “Sure, on my watch, we lost six Senate seats, 63 House seats, six governorships, roughly 680 state legislative seats and since the election, 25 of our guys have flipped to join the other side. But think about how much better I’ll be at this job now that I have two years of experience!”

Tags: DNC , Tim Kaine

Hey, Tim, ‘Nothing’ Beats ‘Harm’ Any Day of the Week



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Via Politico:

DNC CHAIRMAN TIM KAINE’s speech at Penn today (before he scoots back to NYC to tape “The Daily Show,” followed by Vice President Biden on “Colbert”): “President Harry Truman had a phrase for the Republican Party. He called them the ‘do-nothing’ party. It’s been more than 50 years since President Truman leveled that charge, but the name still fits. . . . On Election Day, it will be Americans’ turn to choose. They can choose Republicans who drove our country into a ditch. . . . Or they can choose Democrats who are helping us climb out of that ditch.”

After a stimulus that spent a bunch but didn’t create many jobs, passage of a massive and Byzantine health-care law that a majority of Americans opposed, bailouts of every troubled industry down to AIG bonus checks, one expensive failed housing-rescue effort after another, broken promises on tax hikes, runaway deficits, lawsuits against Arizona, applause for Mexican president Calderon denouncing one of our states, a retracted defense of the Ground Zero mosque and then a retraction of the retraction . . . doesn’t a “do-nothing” party sound pretty good right now?

By the way, it’s pretty striking to see a party chairman, whose side has 59 seats in the Senate and 253 seats in the House, complain that the opposition isn’t getting enough done.

Tags: DNC , Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine: How Dare Anyone Criticize Michelle Obama’s Trip!



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This morning, DNC chair Tim Kaine comes out swinging at those disgruntled by the first lady’s trip to Spain:

Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine is defending first lady Michelle Obama’s vacation trip to Spain, saying critics of her travels are trying to politicize the issue.

Kaine tells NBC’s “Today” show he thinks “it’s wrong” to talk critically about her trips. Critics contend they send a poor message at a time when many Americans are out of work.

Kaine said, “She’s a mom.” He said this was an opportunity for her to take nine-year-old daughter Sasha to a part of the world she hadn’t seen before.

Kaine said President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are “focused on being good parents.”

The New York Times tried to get a handle on the costs:

Officials note that the first lady is paying for her own room, food and transportation, and the friends she brought will pay for theirs as well. The government pays for security, and the Secret Service, not the first lady, determines what is needed.

Officials said some reports of the trip had been exaggerated. Mrs. Obama is not traveling with 40 friends, one official said, but with two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members. The staff is with her because she will pay a courtesy call on King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía on the island of Majorca on Sunday before flying home to Washington.

Every first lady in modern times has flown on government planes with a sizable security detail, and it is hard to pinpoint the cost to taxpayers. The Air Force jet she flew costs $11,351 per hour to operate, according to several reports, meaning a 14-hour round trip would cost nearly $160,000. The first lady would reimburse only the equivalent of first-class commercial tickets for herself and her daughter Sasha, the rest of the seats being occupied mainly by Secret Service. Officials said their friends flew on separate commercial flights.

What’s going on here? I was reminded of a closing passage in Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes:

The White House is the thickest and shiniest bubble of all.

It’s not just that we can’t see him. From the White House, he can’t see anything outside. Why didn’t Bush get it?

Well, the White House was running like a top! Everyone who walked into his office had a wonderful job – and were excited by the swell things they were doing for the country and its people. Every microphone over which he peered had a thousand faces upturned to his, ready to cheer his every applause line. If he left Washington, every tarmac on which Air Force One touched down had a line of prosperous people in suits, to pump Bush’s hand and tell him things were, we were, he was . . . great!

In that context, the cheery tone of the administration’s assessment of the economy makes more sense.

UPDATE: Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times rebukes Gibbs:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at a Wednesday briefing if there was any concern about “the appearance” of Mrs. Obama’s Spain trip.

“The first lady is on a private trip. She is a private citizen and is the mother of a daughter on a private trip. And I think I’d leave it at that,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs is wrong. Mrs. Obama oversees a major Obama domestic initiative, the child health campaign. In April, she flew to Mexico to launch her “international agenda” of youth engagement. And she supervises an East Wing staff that is responsible for every special event in the White House, from bill signings to state dinners. Mrs. Obama is a public figure and it is reasonable to ask how she spends taxpayer resources.

Tags: Barack Obama , Michelle Obama , Tim Kaine

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