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July 22, 2016


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My daughter appears to be having a very Northeastern yuppie reaction to her Alabama corn dog.

As you should know Alabama has this identity politics in abundance.

Roll Tide Roll. War Damn Eagle.

To no pick a side is to betray the civic religion of Alabama (college football).

More seriously what is the beef with Tim Kaine? Is it that he is a white man or something less symbolic?

Hm, your identity politics drives you to hope that Hillary doesn't pick a Catholic of faith who attends a minority-majority Catholic Church who fought housing discrimination as a young lawyer and spent time with Jesuit missionaries in Central America?

I'm sorry but WTF?

Logan, allow me to explain what the F is. You've heard this elsewhere.

First, just to be clear, I don't think the pick will have much an impact in November. I suspect that Warren might have moved the needle (positively) in Colorado and Ohio, by appealing to a very specific voter group, but I also have to agree with the logic that she would have been a bad fit with Clinton given that modern veeps have to be either co-presidents or silent log lumps. I would have preferred Booker or Perez, but I doubt that either would have made much difference in the fall.

Second, Kaine is a good person and a good politician. He's also a good administrator. But others meet that description. Booker certainly does. (I am aware that we have a mutual acquaintance who thinks Booker is unready.) Perez certainly meets the administrative hurdle, although his electoral appeal is untested.

The electoral and practical unimportance of the pick, however, increases its symbolic value.

Kaine was picked because he was "safe" and picking him was "responsible" -- the campaign has been open about that -- which implies that picking Booker or Perez would have been unsafe and irresponsible. That is an unpleasant message to send, especially when the results of the '08 and '12 general elections pretty strongly show that it is no longer true. As a mutual friend said, "I am not sure how comfy I'd be in a party where I was considered a risky choice."

On a practical level, Kaine's seat is uncertain to go to a Democrat in 2017, whereas a D is almost certain to win in New Jersey. On the other hand, Kaine gets you an additional senator for that first year in office. Of course, you can just pick Perez and get around that.

So, yes, identity politics --- which I think you and I would be well-served to just call "politics" --- led me to hope that Kaine would not be the pick. At the same time, I'm not particularly worked up over it.

P.S. I would recommend that everyone read a bit about New York politics in the 20th century, where "ethnic balance" was a thing until the 1990s.

Jamelle Bouie predicted it months ago, and he's had an insanely high batting average this season. (Probably because he pays close attention to the political science literature without following it blindly.)

Keep in mind, it's still not proven that "woman candidate" is a "safe" or "responsible" pick for the executive branch. It's not a problem to anyone who reads this blog, I hope, but good God in heaven the misogyny *shown by nominal Democrats* during the primary season was horrible.

So. It's going to be boring, old school football that is strong in the fundamentals versus a gimmick team filled with retreads and lightweights. It's a pretty good gimmick, but there's so much tape now, they know to counter it. The only way the gimmick team wins now if it gets deep inside the old school's decision loop (or injury to the QB), but its coach is the GM who has fired all the old staff and replaced it with his kids.

Isn't the QB also serving as coach on the gimmick team?

Yes, he thinks he's a triple threat.

The Times article today by Patrick Healy suggests that Kaine may be a more effective VP than Warren or Booker or Perez, and that by picking him, Clinton is looking past the election toward actual governing.

As a general rule, I'm skeptical of claims that Kaine is a governing pick: Perez, for example, is one hella administrator!

The column, though, says nothing about Kaine's governing skills. Healy's first two points are that Kaine won't challenge Hillary; his third point is that he won't challenge her husband.

It reads like damnation with faint praise. If you're skeptical that Kaine was the best available choice, there's nothing in the column to cause you to change your mind.


For impact in November, I think Kaine clearly moves the needle in Virginia, and with Virginia Hillary pretty much just has to keep Florida in order to win. It puts Trump in a very difficult position. But your mileage may vary on electoral impacts of VP picks.

Perez is a really difficult pick to analyze because we don't have many VP Leo McGarry examples in the real world to compare it to. Small N set and all, I genuinely respect the counter-argument that picky an administrative VP without significant electoral experience is what made Perez risky, not identity politics.

And that I think is the issue here. When you hear someone say that Kaine is the safe and responsible pick, and that therefore Perez and Booker are unsafe and irresponsible, you're assuming that it has to do with their race and not other factors, like the aforementioned electoral experience, or issues with Wall Street, or a guaranteed Republican Senator during the honeymoon period of the Clinton Presidency vs. a potential GOP pickup in the fall of 2017.

So yeah, call me out on being naive, but I'm seeing this as real politic and not bad identity politics. But that's how I see things from my vantage point.

There's a bigger issue and a smaller one.

The bigger one is simply that there is no such thing as "identity politics" separate from, you know, politics politics. I worry that I'm not making that clear and we're therefore talking past each other. Your penultimate sentence is worrying.

The smaller issue has to do with the politics. Unless you have evidence that Kaine "moves the needle" in Virginia, your other arguments are small potatoes. Hillary will have thrown out a (small!) long-term gain for, well, some personal satisfaction.

That logic would be different if Kaine really could influence outcomes in Virginia. But where is the evidence for that? Perhaps Hillary has some controlled polls and focus group evidence. But absent confidential information from inside the campaign, how can we know that?

Well, there is this. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-overrated-vice-presidential-home-state-effect/

So there's your case: a 2-point additional swing in Virginia could put the race in bag. The countercase? Well, same website: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/tim-kaine-probably-wouldnt-win-clinton-the-election/ A world in which Virginia is at threat without Tim Kaine is world where she's also in trouble in other states; VA is unlikely to be decisive.

Of course, to bring it around, the above paragraph is a clear case of identity politics. Which is a phrase we really need to stop using: it's become way too much like Potter Stewart's definition of "obscenity."

Noel, do you think the ultimate argument against Booker was that he was black, or that he was inexperienced, opened the door to continued criticism about too close ties to Wall Street, and would upset education unions?

Also open to a third option.

There's also the honeymoon period in the Senate race.

I think the pick was a mistake, on the margin, but I'm pretty clear here that I also don't think it matters very much.

there is no such thing as "identity politics" separate from, you know, politics politics.

If that is so (and I'm not convinced) then perhaps the simplest explanation is that Clinton picked Kaine to stem her losses among white men (compared to a ticket with a diversity pick).

Perhaps she'd sees non-electoral reasons why she'd rather not fall below 25% support among white men.

The main problem with picking Kaine is that it's caused a renewed bout of screaming and whining among the Bernie dead-enders.

But I doubt it will matter much materially. At this point the Bernie-or-Busters don't even give a damn that Sanders has endorsed Clinton. Some of the ones I know are now actively saying they're hoping for Trump to win; Hillary Clinton is as Satanic in their eyes as to any Fox News fan.

Yeah, I find it personally unconscionable right now to throw support behind Clinton, I genuinely don't believe that the system at large or I will lose or gain enough in this election for me to give a shit. We are slowly improving because of globalization but the incrementalism (one step forward, two steps back) of the politics that surround our economy is fucking us in a time of decreased need for work and incredible productivity. My vote for Green is a protest toward this.

You're white, right?

Identity politics is not "all politics" - it's a way for multimillionaires who pledge to uphold the interests of multimillionaires to convince the rest of us to vote for them.

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