Hillary Clinton is supposedly rock solid in her commitment to women’s rights, with reproductive rights at the top of the list. Unlike in other areas, such as trade, military adventurism, energy policy, and LGBT rights, to name a few, she hasn’t wavered when it comes to reproductive choice.
That commitment has given her a huge boost in this election cycle. Planned Parenthood departed from past practice and endorsed her over Bernie Sanders, also a staunch advocate for reproductive choice. More significantly, she’s energized millions of women to support her campaign with everything they have to give. They’ve opened their wallets (including some very big wallets) and have flooded social media with supportive posts. They’ve even broken friendships with those who see things differently.
They are really, really Ready for Hillary.
They know she is committed to their cause in a way that Bernie Sanders could never be.
But you can tell a lot about a person by the company she keeps.
Or, in Hillary Clinton’s case, the company she is considering keeping.
It’s no secret that Hillary’s short list for VP consists of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.
These are the three people she’s considering placing a heartbeat away from the Presidency and, equally important, giving the inside track to the 2020 or 2024 nomination for President. Mondale, Gore and George HW Bush all used the Vice-Presidency as a springboard to the nomination.
So, why oh why is Tim Kaine being considered by a Presidential candidate so supposedly committed to reproductive rights of women? Kaine’s history on abortion is not exactly a secret. Here’s a summary from Michael Corcoran at Truthout in Hillary Clinton’s VP Short List Is Short on Progressives:
One aspect of Tim Kaine’s record that will no doubt generate controversy is his waffling on reproductive rights. Kaine, a vocal Catholic, was once described by the anti-choice group Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) as a “friend” of the organization and a longtime “pro-life Democrat.” The group’s executive director Kristen Day stated in October 2012, “We support [then DNC] Chairman Kaine because of his record and work with DFLA. While Chair of the DNC, he supported pro-life Democrats and his policies help elect pro-life elected officials.”
Day also praised Kaine, then the governor of Virginia, for signing into law a bill that enabled pro-life license plates to be issued (though not with public funds). Abortion rights activists said the act “runs afoul of his obligations as [DNC] chairman,” according to The Washington Post.
Kaine changed the language on his website in 2012 to say he personally opposed abortion, but would support pro-choice policies as a matter of public policy. Groups like the DFLA promptly rescinded their endorsements. Still, Kaine’s personal position and reputation as a “pro-life Democrat” remains a major political concern for many Democrats. As recently as 2014 ThinkProgress reported that Kaine was urging President Obama to appoint a “pro-life, pro-gun” judge for a lifetime term to the federal bench, to the anger of many liberals and progressives.
Clinton is making reproductive rights a major emphasis of her presidential campaign and, as a Vox article observes, “picking Kaine would result in a very mixed message about the ticket’s commitment to reproductive rights.” Clinton has already been attacking the GOP nominee, rightly, for his “horrific” comment about punishing women who have abortions. Donald Trump has also changed his position on the issue to suit his political needs. Clinton’s attacks on Trump concerning issues of reproductive rights may seem less credible if her running mate is not strong or consistent on these issues.
This speaks volumes, whether or not Clinton ultimately chooses Kaine. It says that despite all she’s said (and she has said some really good things about reproductive rights) she would consider naming as the person most likely to succeed her as President someone who at best is agnostic on and may still secretly oppose the principles her most devoted supporters hold so dear.
And make no mistake: Hillary is well aware why those millions of supporters have given so much to help her get past the finish line. It’s not because of her great experience at statecraft or because she’ll manage the economy so well. Heck, many of them might even prefer Sanders on that front. It’s because they believe, deeply, that as President she will stand for principles so important to women that too many men have been unwilling to make a priority.
Yet, she’s still willing to jeopardize the future advancement of those principles by naming Tim Kaine?
Unless those principles are less important to Hillary than they are to her supporters.
The good thing, I suppose, is those supporters will not be shattered by this revelation, or anything close. They will find a rationalization for this, and accept it. They’ll channel the person whose spouse comes home four hours late from work on Christmas Eve. It’s easy to believe an almost certain lie if the alternative is knowing your spouse is cheating on you.