Barack Obama can summon 200,000 swooning Teutons to Berlin to hear him speak. Barack Obama can sink a three-pointer on his first try--nothing but net. Barack Obama can even part the Red Sea, provided you ask nicely. But can Barack Obama do this?
(Hat tip to TNR's Michael Crowley)
Yes, that's Virginia governor--and "main object of [Obama veepwatch] speculation"--Tim Kaine playing the mouth organ with a group of Crooked Road country musicians. In a jean jacket. And not humiliating himself. I'd say this vaults him into first place, at least among shortlisters, for the coveted role of Obama's "Ambassador to Appalachia." Unless, of course, Evan Bayh breaks out a mandolin.
And yet: I'm starting to suspect that Kaine, though "able," may not by "rising" as fast as the Great Mentioner would have us believe. Mainly it's because the guy can't seem to shut up. First, he was all "my mom loves the [veep buzz]." Then he bragged to a Virginia carnivalgoer that the list "seems to be getting shorter and I’m still being mentioned." He even chuckled when a friend said he was Obama's top choice. In the past two days alone, he's done interviews with WTOP Radio, NBC News and Charlie Rose. Given the radio silence from Obama's other rumored veeps--Bayh, Biden, Sebelius et al.--and given that the buzz originally came from Kaine's associates, not Obama's, the governor's sudden obsession with the spotlight certainly seems purposeful.
There are only three explanations, really. Either a) Kaine is acting alone, b) Obama is releasing a trial balloon or c) the campaign is using Kaine to divert the media's attention from the real contenders. None of these options bodes particularly well for Kaine. A trial balloon is the least likely, given Chicago's insistence on total secrecy, and even then, assessments of Kaine have hardly been glowing. The lone gunman theory is more plausible--but it's safe bet, in that case, that Kaine's loose lips have hurt, not helped, his chances with Obama's disciplined crew. And if Kaine is serving as a distraction at the nominee's behest--admittedly a pretty convoluted hypothesis--he was never worth obsessing over in the first place.
Not that I necessarily subscribe to any of this, but it's important to maintain a little bit of perspective in these heady, substance-free days of vice-presidential speculation. Even with all the bitchin' harmonica solos.