“Political operatives” is somewhat of a pejorative term to begin with, but there are times when they make egregious mistakes that show how removed they can be from the lives that many Americans live. Last night’s Vice-Presidential Debate was one of those times.
As we have previously written, going into the debate Tim Kaine had a built-in advantage over Mike Pence. He had a progressive agenda to defend, or more precisely, to present. It is a perspective that has comprehensive solutions to often-complex problems. But it would be hard to know that from the debate because Kaine was seemingly forced to play the role of attack-dog and could not be himself. Perhaps metaphorically, he could not be Tom Hanks.
That is what kind of guy Tim Kaine seems to be. He is friendly, avuncular, wise, compassionate and witty, all characteristics that Tom Hanks has when playing a “good guy.” [In fairness, I do not know what kind of guy Tom Hanks is in real life, but I’ll be that he’s pretty close to the “good guy.”]
Instead, the operatives told Kaine to attack with incessant interrupting of Pence. At first impact, it was jarring, shocking. Why is Kaine trying to play Donald Trump? He was worse than Trump because Trump’s interruptions of Hillary Clinton were brief and snide. Kaine did not sting like a bee; rather he tried to run over Pence like a bulldozer. He outshouted Pence and actually made Pence look like a victim and a sympathetic character. It’s hard to do that to a man who has tried to summarily deprive so many Hoosiers of basic human rights.
According to the CNN/ORC post-debate poll, Pence “won,” 48% – 42%. The methodology was seemingly fair with 472 randomly selected registered voters as the sample base with a plus-minus margin of error of 4.5%. Victory was Kaine’s to lose. By nature, he is friendlier, smarter, more compassionate, and more relatable to people than Pence. Most of all he has that elusive “authentic” quality that everyone in politics seeks to have. Somehow the operatives of the campaign did not think that was enough.
Hillary Clinton made a fine choice in selecting Tim Kaine to be her running mate. As has been suggested to her many times before, look for advice beyond what the inside operatives are telling you. In this case, let Kaine be Hanks, er Kaine.