It is a difficult thing to wrangle the moral and political degradation of Tim Kaine, my senator from Virginia and a fellow who has debased himself to an almost-comical degree over the past year. You may not be aware that, for years, Kaine had, and ran for office on, a rather justified reputation as a “moderate” or a “centrist” who was committed to “compromise” and “problem solving.” That’s not to say that he was a great politician—being a “centrist” for Tim Kaine generally meant choosing the median of two bad policies—but he tried to present at least a pretense of thoughtfulness in his doings, like a kid who carefully and quietly stuffs all of his junk underneath his bed in order to make his room look clean.
Those days are over. I suspect that standing too close to the Clinton political machine for too long will taint any man’s heart and break his integrity: there is an event horizon surrounding the Clintons from which nothing, not even Midwestern-turned-Virginian ex-governors-turned-senators, can escape. Kaine has revealed himself to be both a consummate coward and a hack liar, a surprisingly cold and calculative opportunist whose own smart goofball harmonica-playing public image has been eclipsed by a rank, depressing partisan mania. Don’t get me wrong: I was never much of a Kaine fan to begin with, not professionally anyway. But, as I’ve written before, his reputation for nice-guy affability was well deserved, both in the room where it happens and outside of it. He has changed.
Kaine’s latest political pronouncement was a stated intent to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s path to the Supreme Court. Kaine is upset, you see, that Gorsuch once upheld the right of corporations and individuals to refuse to cover contraceptives on their employer-provided health care plans. In and of itself it is not surprising that Kaine is opposed to Gorsuch’s nomination: the Democratic Party, currently construed, has decided as a matter of immutable public policy that life for women is not worth living unless they have near-constant “access” to “free” birth control. It is hard to overstate how strongly Democrats believe that women are inseparable from birth control; in this climate, a judge’s ruling that a company should have control over its own health care coverage is seen by liberals more or less as an act of sex-specific, state-sponsored terrorism. (For all the sexual she-power politics of modern liberalism, the Left is generally convinced that women are effectively helpless and useless without a full slate of chemicals and copper implants to suppress their fertility.)
Anyway, this kind of partisan blindness is bad enough, but it’s at least understandable: it’s an ideological stand, in any case, and Kaine has shown himself to be nothing if not willing to go along with the Democrats to get along with the Democrats. But he has also shown himself willing to lie, repeatedly and eagerly, if he hopes it will advance his career prospects and his political goals—and here he does not disappoint:
He has cavalierly referred to contraceptive use – a constitutionally protected right for 50+ yrs – as ‘the wrongdoing of others.’
— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) March 29, 2017
This is false—and I don’t mean false in the sense that Tim Kaine just made some sort of innocent mistake in characterizing Judge Gorsuch’s words, but that Kaine is knowingly and willfully lying in order to score a couple of cheap points and gin up his gullible voting base. Gorsuch did not, in any way, refer to contraceptive use as “the wrongdoing of others.” Tim Kaine knows this; he also knows that you yourself probably do not know it, which is precisely what he’s counting on.
What does Gorsuch himself say about “the wrongdoing of others?” Here is the full quote, in full context:
All of us face the problem of complicity. All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others. For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability. The Green family members are among those who seek guidance from their faith on these questions. Understanding that is the key to understanding this case.
When Gorsuch’s words are laid out in full, Kaine’s intellectual dishonesty becomes shockingly self-evident. Gorsuch was not referring to “contraceptive use” as “the wrongdoing of others;” rather, he was stating a general principle about complicity and then correctly pointing out that “the key to understanding” the case was in seeing that the plaintiffs “seek guidance from their faith” to determine “what constitutes wrongful conduct.” Gorsuch did not, at all, in any way, in any form, tie contraceptive behavior to “wrongdoing.” At all.
What is on display here is not just Kaine’s newfound affinity for lying and cowardice, but also the now-ubiquitous tendency for the Democrats to overplay their hand in our current political climate. The Trump administration and the GOP together deserve a great deal of criticism, both objectively and on partisan grounds; it is not hard to find some stupid and/or politically combative thing to call them out over. But congressional liberals cannot simply be satisfied with attacking the authentic: they have to resort to both mass hysteria and outright falsehoods, hoping to sweep an hysterical and impressionable constituency along with them. Hence why we have an ongoing pitched hysteria battle over Trump’s alleged nefarious Russia-sponsored treason, say—or why a smart fellow like Tim Kaine feels comfortable openly lying to his constituents about a judge’s political opinions.
This is indeed a marked change from the outwardly thoughtful purple-state centrism that Kaine exuded a decade or so ago. It says a great deal about how much a man can lose himself in Washington (and also in Chappaqua). It is also a poignant commentary on how deeply dysfunctional the modern Democratic party is; how, for all the serious flaws of the GOP (chief among them the man currently leading it), Democrats are increasingly incapable of behaving like rational adults (and at a time when we most badly need rational adults).
Kaine, for one, is welcome to filibuster Gorsuch. He is also encouraged to be honest about why he is filibustering. I suppose it’s possible he’s simply laying the groundwork for a re-election bid in 2019, along with a shot at the White House in 2020. If so, then it’s clear—if any more indication were needed—that Tim Kaine, famed moderate and Good Guy, has simply become yet another desperate and craven political fraud—a sad declension now becoming all-too-familiar in the Age of Trump.