Cassidy’s complacent Kaine counsel

It is a shame Tim Kaine’s name did not start with a C, but such is the imperfect orthography of English. Alas, English’s orthography is far from the only imperfect thing in the world.

Hot on the heels of Clinton’s VP pick, John Cassidy opined on the pick’s suitability and how he would help the ticket. I tend to find Cassidy an intelligent and thoughtful writer, but I think he missed the target this time.

“…many people associated with Clinton’s campaign believe, despite a recent narrowing in the polls, that she is well-placed to win in November.”

As did Team Romney in 2012, right up until they were soundly defeated. Plus, polls before and during the conventions are not particularly predictive of who will win in November. Fivethirtyeight.com in particular has made this point in print and on their politics podcast a couple times at least.

“As long as Trump’s name is on the ballot, Democrats will show up in droves to keep him away from the Oval Office.”

As they thought about defeating Bush #2 in 2004. There’s not much evidence that that “vote for A because she is not B” tactic inspires voters much. Plus, in this cycle we have the two most disliked presidential nominees ever, with Trump being the only one more disliked than Clinton.  “Vote for me because you find me marginally less distasteful than the other guy!” does not make much of a slogan.

“… even a confident Presidential campaign wants to make a Vice-Presidential pick that will help it to win, and it can be argued that Kaine will do that. He comes from a swing state. He speaks fluent Spanish. He has strong ties to the African-American community…”

Okay, I am with him on the swing state, that is somewhat important and the odds of the set of circumstances (Clinton otherwise losing VA by a small margin in a scenario where she isn’t otherwise winning but where VA’s 13 electoral votes would be enough to put them over 269) being in place for the slight home-state bump to matter is about 1 in 140.  but the latter two points are head-scratch-worthy.

Clinton seems to have the Hispanic vote in the bag and imagining large numbers of Hispanics jumping out of that bag to vote for Trump may cause cerebral hemorrhaging. (To say nothing of the sophomoric notion that what Hispanics mostly want in a president is a Spanish-fluent sidekick.) Likewise, blacks seem a solid demographic for Clinton, not as solidly as Hispanics perhaps, but if Team Clinton was serious about cornering the black voter market, she would have picked a black running mate. (Or, if you follow Cassidy’s logic, a running made who speaks Ebonics.)

“…they are cut from the same political cloth. Both are Ivy League-educated lawyers, as well as mainstream Democrats..”

I fail to see this as a plus in an election cycle where a large portion of the electorate is rebelling against the mainstream. Does Cassidy not understand why Trump and Sanders are so popular?

In the end, Clinton, and Trump too for that matter, followed the cardinal rule of picking a running mate (which McCain violated in 2008): do no harm. Kaine’s not going to help the ticket, but he won’t hurt it. Thus, his selection should it no way make you feel better about Clinton’s chances, just relieved that she didn’t pick a Democratic version of Sarah Palin, (I imagine such a person as a quasi-articulate leftist buffoon who has read slightly less than half the Cliff’s Notes on Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei.)

And finally, if you had told anyone, possibly even Trump himself, a year ago that he’d win the GOP nomination, you would have been laughed at. A lot. And yet, here we are.

The odds seem to be in Clinton’s favor, but not all signs are favorable. The weekly terrorist attacks in Europe are surely playing to Trump’s hand, for example. And if this election cycle has reminded us of nothing else, we ought to be more cognizant than ever of how much we suck at predicting the future. So, please, Mr. Cassidy, let us not serve up dull dishwater as if it were just the tonic needed to let the second-most disliked presidential candidate rest on her tarnish laurels.

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