Tim Kaine received a good reception for his speech last Saturday in Miami when Hillary Clinton introduced him as her running mate. It was half-autobiographical, half-tribute to his new boss. It was cheerful and well-delivered, and showed off Kaine’s affability, his impressive résumé, and his command of Spanish. So it wasn’t surprising when he started delivering it again in Philadelphia tonight — for a while.
Suddenly, at about the time that I was beginning to write a piece on the speech tentatively headlined “A Return to Normalcy,” Kaine shifted gears and began mocking Donald Trump with an impersonation of his distinctive language and — yes — even his voice. “Believe me,” sneered the often goofily upbeat Virginian. “Be-lieeeeve me!” And then Kaine was off to the races with repeated attacks on Trump’s credibility, returning to the vaguely Trumpian rendition of “Believe me,” again and again.
It was like watching a cute puppy suddenly bare his teeth, and then bark incessantly for a solid 20 minutes, pausing only to look pleased at his audacity.
Speaking of canines: If Kaine wanted to prove he wasn’t too nice to play the attack dog when called upon, he passed the test.
Bill Clinton and other speakers have worked mightily to rehabilitate Hillary Clinton’s once-strong reputation for integrity. Others appearing at the podium today, especially Leon Panetta and Michael Bloomberg, have gone after Trump’s competence and patriotism, and even his sanity. But what Kaine’s wild outburst of humor and venom showed more than anything is that the campaign he has joined believes that the competition to show which damaged presidential candidate is the least dishonest and untrustworthy could be the ballgame.