So, Hillary has made her ticket selection, and decided on a person considered a "safe" or reliable choice in Virginia Senator Kaine. I know a good number of Democrats were pining for a more... risky pick, something a little more stunning or more stringently Progressive, maybe someone female for an all-woman ticket or someone ethnic for an "Up Yours White Guys" ticket, but in a world filled with Left-Centrist white guys you sometimes got to go draw from the well.
I've ranted about the need for Vice Presidents before, but we're still using that system so let's work with it.
The biggest thing people should take away from a Veep pick is how it signifies what the candidate is going to do as President to select all the other people to fill important roles in his/her administration. This is the first big decision, and the candidate has to nail it. A bad pick - say, McGovern tabbing Eagleton or Mondale tabbing Ferraro or McCain tabbing Palin - indicates bad people skills, poor decision-making, what have you.
This means evaluating Kaine's record (back to the Post):
Kaine comes from a swing state (note: in Electoral value, a popular pick can garner you a slight boost in the Veep's home state and maybe neighboring ones). He has executive and legislative experience. Before going to the Senate, Kaine was governor of Virginia from 2005 to 2009 and mayor of Richmond prior to that. He has a strong Catholic religious background: He was a missionary out of college. He speaks fluent Spanish. He had been vetted favorably by then-Sen. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
And, most importantly, Kaine is a steady presence. He has been in the national spotlight -- both during the 2008 vetting and during his stint as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2009 to 2011. He knows how to handle the media, the scrutiny and the attacks that come with a high-profile perch. He's even-keeled amid chaos.One word to describe Kaine favorably? Competent. He knows how politics works, he's run successful campaigns, he's been a team player, and he can work the halls of Congress and the back rooms to broker deals as needed.
And to be fair, another one word to describe him is Boring. Kaine does not attract much media attention, he's not a brilliant or charismatic orator, he's not a guy the news channels think of to invite onto their shows, he's not going to get voted Prom King any time soon. On the bright side, that also means he's scandal-proof.
His voting record shows a consistent Liberal bent. He may not be full-on Far Left but he's no Blug Dog.
By selecting Kaine, Hillary is showing that she'll value competency and a strong yet not overwhelmingly Liberal lean to her office. Kaine is essentially another Biden: someone stable and reliable for a job that demands (edit: originally had the wrong word there) stability and reliability.
Personally, I'd have gone with Perez, or searched a little harder for a younger Progressive from the Midwest or Pacific coast. I may be damning with praise here, but there's nothing wrong with Kaine as the Democratic Veep nominee.
Now, onto the Democratic convention.