The Vestigial Organ
OK, let's get to the multiple events of yesterday. First of all, Tim Kaine will be named the DNC Chair, which appears to be the consolation prize for him not being made Vice President. Kaine's most memorable public appearance was an awful rebuttal to the State of the Union Address, but since then he has gotten marginally better, and was not terrible on the stump and in the media for Barack Obama. Typically the President handpicks the DNC chair, and the body is a different animal when the party is in power. Without the White House, the DNC was an activist body the last two cycles. Terry McAuliffe had no electoral success, but raised a crapload of money. Howard Dean implemented the 50-state strategy, got the party's technical chops up to the level of the Republicans, and successfully navigated two campaign cycles. With the White House, it becomes more of an organ of the President.
Kaine did oversee some very good party-building in Virginia, which has 2 more Democratic Senators, 3 more House members and the majority of the State Senate since he became Governor. And Virginia went blue in November for the first time since 1964. Jonathan Singer likes the choice.
Beyond that, in recent years the DNC Chairmanship has been split into two posts while the Democrats have controlled the White House, with a dignitary serving as General Chairman and a strategist running the day-to-day operations of the committee. Under Bill Clinton, this strategy predominated, with Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Colorado Governor Roy Romer and then-former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell serving as General Chairmen -- the spokesmen of the party -- while others were left to handle the details. Indeed, this appears to be the thinking of Obama in tapping Kaine, also choosing the director of his battleground state strategy, Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, to run the committee's operations.
So I see the Kaine pick as a fine one and have few quarrels with it.
The key to me is whether he keeps the 50-state strategy in place. Coming from a state that benefited from those efforts, I hope he will see the value in it.