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A Drizzly Start

Politicians never learn. An American president died as a result of vanity: William Henry Harrison caught his death of pneumonia after insisting on standing outside in frigid Washington weather for his inauguration.

It wasn't particularly cold at noon today as Tim Kaine took the oath of office as Virginia's new governor. But the rain kept coming, and of course neither Kaine nor outgoing Gov. Mark Warner, nor many of the other elected officials bothered to join the rest of the crowd in donning plastic bags over their finery.

There was a glance of sunshine as Kaine took his place on the podium in Williamsburg, but the rain prevailed, forcing a couple of well-received ad libs in the new governor's address: "This is a glorious day," the prepared text said, and Kaine delivered it verbatim, but added, "The weather is to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously." The crowd ate that up, as they did when Kaine took this line, "As a people, we have come through storm after storm," and added, with extra emphasis, "and storm."

Kaine raced through his speech, which like all inaugural addresses was short on specifics and long on general themes. But his message was clear, from the diversity of people he chose to deliver the invocation ("in Jesus' name"), the pledge and the national anthem (perhaps the longest rendition sung since the British were bombing Fort McHenry.) Kaine spoke repeatedly of appealing to all Virginians. He even delivered a paragraph of his speech in untranslated Spanish. (It turned out to be a promise to be fair and inclusive to all communities.

Kaine came closest to talking policy when he promised to move "immediately" and "urgently" to fix the state's traffic congestion problem. But this was not the day for specifics.

Right now, one of the fastest-moving parades you'll ever see is marching by the filing room where I'm writing, a veritable blur of brightly colored rain ponchos.

Wierd moment of the proceedings: Virginia's odd tradition of having the outgoing governor leave the stage the moment the new governor is sworn in. Within seconds after Kaine completed the oath of office, Mark Warner gave his wife Lisa Collis a little pat on the back and they slipped out the back. Term over. Campaign begins.

By Marc Fisher |  January 14, 2006; 12:47 PM ET
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They should have known it was going to rain. It ALWAYS rains in Williamsburg. At least it did for most of the 4 years I went there.

Posted by: Former W&M student | January 14, 2006 2:40 PM

I don't know where you were in the crowd, but it was VERY cold, windy and wet, high in the bleachers, where I watched Tim being sworn in. It was perhaps the most miserable 2 hours outdoors that I've spent since that long ago scout camping trip. As soon as the proceedings were ended, the whole crowd pushed down the steps and exited asap. And yes, those poor, wet, scantily-dressed majorettes and cheerleaders - I felt sorry for them!

Posted by: tjallen | January 14, 2006 5:01 PM

Especially those poor high school and middle school bands who didn't bring ponchos! One poor majorette was dressed in bikini and shorts while the rest of her band was well-covered. Seemed downright cruel.

Posted by: Fisher | January 14, 2006 5:24 PM

One point Fisher hints at above is the religious aspect of Tim Kaine's personna. I suggest this is something Democrats could watch for lessons, both good and bad. How should a Democrat handle the issues connected to publicly-voiced strong religious beliefs? Democrats have often kept their personal religion private, or were explicitly secular, or vocally favored the seperation of church and state.

Kaine will be different, I think, and it will be interesting to see how it "plays out." Tim Kaine is Roman Catholic and wears it on his sleeve. He was active in St. Elizabeth's Church in Richmond, and sang in their gospel choir (years ago). At an Interfaith Prayer Service at Bruton Parish Church before the inauguration, there were readings from three religions and from three books (Muslim Koran, Jewish Torah and Christian New Testament). A sermon was delivered by Rev. Msg. Micheal Schmeid (who performed Kaine's wedding years ago) in which he urged Kaine, Bolling, and McDonnell to consider the Beatitudes (blessed are the poor... etc.) as they govern.

Yes, this is Virginia, (home of Pat Robertson) where a high percentage of the population believes in God and the devil, heaven and hell, angels and being saved by Jesus. Some might say religion is an important public part of a candidate. Certainly the Republicans have no trouble with it. It will be interesting to see how Democrat Kaine deals with these issues.

Posted by: tjallen | January 14, 2006 7:25 PM

In response to Marc Fishers' column in the Sunday, 15 January 2006 Metro section titled; "As Kaine Dances N.Virginia Taps Its Toes Waiting", NOT!

I don't foresee any improvements to the cluttered N.VA. roads while a democrat is governor. Look, one of Mark Warner’s campaign promises was to alleviate the congestion on the roads in N.VA. Not only did this not happen, it actually worsened. I live in Bristow, VA. and live about 2.3 miles away from a heavily congested Rte. 66 exit. When Mark Warner took his position as governor, it took me about 30 minutes to get to the route 66 exit. As of Friday, 13 January 2006, it takes me 45 minutes to get to the exit. Imagine, 45 minutes just getting to my exit 2.3 miles from home! Instead of using our tax dollars wisely, the left wing insists on using them for social programs to help the illegal aliens live freely. Of course not all our hard earned tax dollars are going to the illegal aliens, but the portions that are not going to that cause are unaccounted for.

Posted by: Mark McGregor | January 15, 2006 9:58 AM

Also on the topic of Marc Fisher's Sunday column, citizens in Northern Virginia are increasingly insisting that transportation is not a crises unto itself -- it is inextricably linked to the burgeoning growth crisis here.

Civic groups cooperating through issued a press release on the need to treat transportation and runaway development as "twin crises"

and many citizens spoke on these concerns at both the Leesburg and Fairfax Town Halls.

If Kaine take the tunnel vision approach of just viewing the challenge as raising money for roads and Metro, he will never come close to fixing the problems, as the growth timetable here is an order of magnitude faster than any transportation construction timeline.

The "adequate public facilities" ordinance Kaine has promised to offer local jurisdictions more control to make sure that infrastructure improvements precede dense residential growth is a critical start, but is just a start. If Kaine puts this off, however, he will be shooting his own transportation solutions, not just in the foot, but in the head.

Posted by: Deborah Reyher | January 15, 2006 2:40 PM

To Mr. McGregor and the like:

I grew up in Fairfax (well... since 1960) and until very recently had never heard of Bristow, Va. Now I see that address everywhere.

You had to know when you moved to Bristow that you were going to spend a lot of time on the road. Complaining about congestion driving to an area that didn't have many people living there until recently is like moving near an existing airport and then complaining about the noise.

Where did you think all those people moving into all those new developments out there were going to work? How did you think they were going to get there? Mark Warner's policies didn't turn your commute into a nightmare; you and your new neighbors did.

Posted by: TBG | January 16, 2006 12:31 PM

Darling, you need a new proofreader. Last paragraph, the word 'weird' is incorrect. FYI.

Posted by: typo, Mark | January 17, 2006 9:38 AM

On my first commute since Gov. Kaine's inauguration, it took me 90 minutes to drive the 12 miles to downtown Richmond. At least there will be fewer fatalities at 8 miles per hour!

Posted by: Bumper 2 Bumper | January 17, 2006 2:17 PM

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