Now that the political conventions have concluded with their series of firsts (first woman who managed to remain married to Bill Clinton ever nominated, first clinical narcissist ever nominated, first person to have a name that’s a unit of British currency ever nominated), there was one noteworthy first that got very little attention.
This is the first time a truly Regular Guy has ever been nominated for national office.
America, meet Tim Kaine, the most painfully under-the-top Regular Guy politician, ever.
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Of course, we have had some people who were somewhat close to regular guys as presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Harry Truman, with his failed haberdashery, poker games, Hawaiian shirts and a wife named “Bess,” was pretty much a Regular Guy, but that’s about it in the modern era. Gerald Ford was also a regular guy; he made his own English muffins and had Michigan roots, but then he picked Nelson Rockefeller as his vice president, blowing away his Regular Guy bona fides.
Tim Kaine’s Regular Guyness exceeds anything I can recall in politics.
With his my-wife-picked-out-my-shirt-and-tie look, his oh-so-regular-ya-sure-you-betcha St. Paul, Minn., birthplace and Missouri residency, and the level of geniality you would encounter borrowing your neighbor’s lawn edger while discussing the fortunes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Kaine screams normal.
Kaine’s regular guy checklist:
▪ Lives in the same not-bad-but-not-spectacular house he bought 24 years ago (Hey! Saves dough! Got it paid down!)
▪ Had a Harvard Law degree (not regular at all), but then sat on that money-printing machine in favor of being a civil rights lawyer.
▪ Same wife for 32 years, who was, granted, the daughter of a Virginia governor, but looks like she would be more than happy to bring a carrot and raisin salad to the block party.
Most politicians I am aware of fall into two categories:
1. They have run for every single office they ever could seek starting at age 5.
2. They have run for every single office they ever could seek starting at age 6.
No, Kaine waited until he was 36 to run for office, and when he did, it was for the Richmond, Va., City Council, which could be charitably described as a body no one associates with the first step on the ladder to the presidency.
Being a Regular Guy in an Irregular Person world is increasingly rare. The plaid button-down shirts, the size 36 waist Dockers, the energy one must summon to be nice all the time, the ability to navigate through Home Depot (yep, that’s the metric Allen wrench set I need) often collides with Hip America, which disdains Allen wrench knowledge in favor of Arabica bean-blending knowledge.
Meh. Give me a Regular Guy any time.
In this current political environment, where the boomer Clintons have hogged the remote for a quarter century, where you are tearfully muttering that you’d kill for Ted Cruz’s relative normalcy as the GOP nominee, and where late-night tweets pass for policy speeches #IwasthinkingofaKardashianforVP, the Kaine nomination opens the door to the end of charisma and the beginning of something much different: predictability.
If Kaine is elected vice president, will we see him having news conferences about how to properly grout? Will there be some broken, sun-bleached plastic toys still rotting in his backyard? Will there be a 1999 Dodge Caravan One? Will there be a new era of $8 haircuts? Will there be a two-car garage in the vice presidential mansion with a bucket full of broken fishing rods?
I hope so.
Because after this election, that’ll be change upon which we can all agree.
And who doesn’t like plaid button-downs?