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Tim Kaine’s Advocacy for Obama Will Haunt His Campaign

The former Virginia governor has been one of the most visible of the president's supporters during the last three years.

by
Neil Snyder

Bio

April 20, 2012 - 12:00 am

The campaign to replace retiring U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) is a dead heat right now between two presumptive nominees who are former Virginia governors: George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D). But polls taken this early in an election cycle can be deceiving, and in this instance, they are probably downright misleading. Here’s why: Tim Kaine is tied so closely to Barack Obama that they are virtually joined at the hip, and Virginia voters are coming to grips with the fact that the Obama they helped to elect in 2008 is not the same Obama who has been governing this nation since 2009. For that deception, there should be hell to pay on Election Day.

Tim Kaine isn’t just another Democratic governor who supported Barack Obama. He was the first governor outside Illinois to endorse Obama for president.  What did Kaine see in Obama that led him to believe that Obama would be a good president? It wasn’t his accomplishments as an Illinois state senator, because he didn’t have any; it wasn’t his accomplishments in the United States Senate, because Obama was too busy campaigning for the presidency to waste his time trying to advance a legislative agenda; and it couldn’t have been his remarkable achievements outside of politics, since Obama’s experience is void of anything noteworthy. There was absolutely nothing in Obama’s record indicating that he had the makings of a good president, and his record as president bears that out.  Tim Kaine will have to explain to Virginia voters why he supported Barack Obama and his programs in a sensible way and that will be a daunting task because it makes no sense at all unless it was for political reasons only. Virginia voters are smart. In due course, they will come to terms with that reality.

But there’s more. From January 2009 to April 2011, Tim Kaine was chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In that job, he became Obama’s front man, pitching the president’s programs to a bewildered nation — programs such as ObamaCare, environmental regulations that have strangled large and small businesses all across the fruited plain, “investments” in green energy firms that turned out to be nothing more than payback to individuals and groups that supported candidate Obama in 2008, and government spending on a myriad of handout initiatives without regard for our nation’s critical deficit and debt problems. Kaine will need to explain those things to Virginia voters as well, and it won’t be easy.

Obama’s assault on the coal industry in particular is becoming the stuff of legend. He promised to bankrupt the coal industry if he became president, and that’s one promise that he has tried his best to keep. After failing in his effort to pass a national energy tax, Obama resorted to backdoor maneuvers to accomplish the same thing via EPA regulations and executive orders. Those slick schemes may amuse residents in Northern Virginia’s trendy suburbs of Washington, D.C., where Obamanistas like to gather, but since Virginia is a coal-producing state, they aren’t appreciated by people in the rest of the Commonwealth.

Despite his record of support for the coal industry as Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine will have to share responsibility with the president for attacking coal producers since leaving office because Kaine wasn’t an innocent bystander while it was taking place.  He proudly hawked the president’s policies with his advocacy on the Sunday morning talk show circuit and elsewhere as a key player on Team Obama. Virginia voters won’t forget that, and neither will George Allen.  He’ll remind Virginians about it on the campaign trail until the polls close.

As a member of the House of Delegates, as a congressman, as governor, and as a United States senator, Allen was the epitome of a pro-business government official. Kaine, too, was regarded as pro-business, but that was B.O. — Before Obama.  On Election Day, I have a strong hunch that Virginians will prove once and for all that they understand political gimmickry when they see it and correctly conclude that Tim Kaine is just another smooth-talking politician like Democrats before him who stood for one set of principles when they ran for state office and another set when they sought advancement in the Democratic Party at the national level.

Barack Obama is a noose around Tim Kaine’s neck, and Kaine ended up on the gallows by choice. The 2012 presidential election will be a referendum on Obama’s performance as president. Forget promises about hope and change and personalities this time around. This election will be about the president’s dismal record, and Tim Kaine can’t hide from the role that he played as an Obama enabler.

In 2008, candidate Obama promised to heal a polarized nation, but he has surprised even his most ardent critics with his bafflingly stubborn political brinkmanship. Obama is the most polarizing president that our nation has ever seen.  His signature piece of legislation, ObamaCare, is a perfect example.  He literally shoved it down the throats of legislators from both political parties and totally ignored strong objections from a majority of voters. No one even read the bill before Obama signed it into law, and that includes the president, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Tim Kaine. Yet all of them, including Kaine, did their utmost to sell it to the nation as the cure for our country’s healthcare ills. The Supreme Court is in the process of deciding if ObamaCare is constitutional — an issue that was raised by many before the bill was passed and blithely swept aside by the president while Tim Kaine applauded.

As I said, President Obama is in serious trouble in Virginia, and so is Tim Kaine even though the polls don’t show that convincingly at this point. Compared to Kaine, George Allen looks like a knight in shining armor despite the fact that he made mistakes in 2006 that cost him re-election to the Senate. Allen’s two most significant missteps in 2006 were calling one of Jim Webb’s aides a “macaca” and making disparaging remarks about his role as senator.

“Macaca” is regarded by some as a racial slur, and Allen paid the price for using that word.  He also paid the price for demeaning the role that senators play while he was seeking re-election. Those things are ancient history now, and they pale by comparison with Kaine’s support for President Obama and his misguided programs and tactics.  Interestingly, Allen’s frustration with the Senate had to do with its slow pace of activity and the fact that very little is accomplished in that august body. Those are frustrations that most Virginia voters share.  When they enter the voting booth and pull the lever, the last thing that most of them will want to do is send another Democratic senator to Washington to take a seat in a chamber that’s led by do-nothing Democrats who can’t even pass a budget. Virginia voters want real change.  George Allen offers them that hope, especially if Republicans take control in the Senate.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled "If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You’re Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You’re Not an Idiot".
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