Kaine’s absent, and it’s not all his fault

DNC Chairman and Governor Tim Kaine, no mistake in the order of those titles, should release his past travel schedules, as today’s Virginian-Pilot says.

As they say, what security concerns could there be in telling us where Kaine was last week? Unless terrorists are into time travel.

But FOIA frustrations aside, the fact that Kaine is jaunting around the country at $1,000 a plate dinners telling bad jokes and giving worse speeches isn’t entirely his fault, and it likely won’t change until we change this:

Virginia Governors can’t run for re-election.

I used to have a strong affinity for our one-term-mandated Governors. It ideally puts the Governor in the position of running on a key issue, winning, implementing it, and leaving. When campaigns run that way, Virginia works great.

They haven’t worked that way in a while. The recent template has been:
(1) campaign saying one thing
(2) get elected
(3) break campaign promises and do the opposite
(4) leave, knowing the voters can’t do much about it

Imagine what Tim Kaine’s 4 years would’ve been like if he knew he’d face the voters again at the end of that term. Would he have pushed tax increases? Would he be spending this year flying all over the nation for the DNC?

Not in a zillion years. He’d be at every BBQ, cookout, baseball game in the Commonwealth talking about what he did for the past four years and, knowing he would have to do so, he might have done something during them besides stand close to Obama.

But for me, the overriding principle is the need for elected officials to face the voters at least once after being given the job.

I came to the conclusion a few years back that an elected official who can never run for re-election is about as close to an appointed leader as there is. There is no recourse for voters, no way for Governors to ever need to be accountable to the people, and outside of the rare opportunity to run for the US Senate, no chance Virginia voters will ever voice their opinion about their Governor again.

Many in the General Assembly passionately think that’s fine. They can wait out any “bad” governor for four years, a tick on a General Assembly clock, and do it all over again with the next one.

So, while I think Tim Kaine shouldn’t block the public from seeing what he’s doing and where he’s doing it, and while I think it would be nice to have a Governor whose actually interested in being Governor, I can’t fault Kaine entirely for spending the year auditioning for his next gig.

After all, we forbid him from even attempting an encore.