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For It After He Was Against It After He Was For It

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Tom-Perez-AP-IAMGASJH

As a follow-up to my piece yesterday, Tim Kaine has decided to change his changed position on the Hyde Amendment:

You can see the interview from this morning here. The quote in Quigley’s tweet isn’t unfairly taken out of context; it’s not preceded or succeeded by him saying that “of course I will support the party’s platform irrespective of my personal views” or something like that.

A few implications of this:

  • Substantively, as vice president it doesn’t matter at all. He’s not going to have any effect on Hillary Clinton’s abortion policy and he’s not going to have any effect on how the public views abortion policy. In terms of the direction of the party, Clinton’s stated views are obviously vastly more important than Kaine’s.
  • If he becomes president because Hillary Clinton has to leave office and the Republicans retain at least one house of Congress, it doesn’t matter at all. Because it’s not a stand-alone provision it’s nearly impossible to veto, so all a president can do to affect abortion policy is nominate Supreme Court justices. And when picking nominees, Kaine’s views on the Hyde Amendment will matter about as much as Obama’s nominal opposition to same-sex marriage mattered.
  • It matters if he becomes president and the Democrats somehow assemble a governing majority before 2024. Very unlikely, given the Republican structural advantage in the House, but not impossible. Given what some of the marginal members of the House would look like if the Democrats were to take it back I suspect the president’s views would be the least of the problems with putting together a majority to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, but it certainly doesn’t help.
  • It’s a reason to oppose him for the Democratic nomination even if he runs for president in 2024. Even if he adopts the position on the party’s platform now, he won’t be trusted and shouldn’t be. (Obama took too long to come out for same-sex marriage, but he didn’t flip back after 2 days.)
  • This is really bad form from Kaine. If he wanted to just say something like “whatever my personal views, our nominee for president and the party platform support repealing the Hyde Amendment,” and stick with it, OK. His comments on the 27th, although not the 29th, are acceptablish. But this immediate flip-flop and miscommunication with Clinton’s staff, while not the biggest deal in the world, is a thumb in the eye to an important part of the Democratic coalition. When the rationale for picking someone is that he’s a boring but experienced politician, he’s not supposed to make mistakes like this.
  • The case for Perez over Kaine was obvious — he’s more progressive than Kaine, he represents a crucial and growing Democratic constituency, and he doesn’t but a crucial Senate seat at risk. Against Perez was the idea that because of the magic of his having held statewide elected office Kaine would be much less likely to make political mistakes. Hmmmm. I don’t really see the basis for this — experienced pols commit blunders all the time. (Cf. Joe Biden, who worked out fine anyway.) I still think the idea that Perez wouldn’t the minimum standards of a vice presidential nominee is baseless and insulting.
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