Video Unlikely To Go Viral: The Tim Kaine Channel
Psst, pass it on: Check out the video from Tim Kaine. No, Virginia's governor isn't doing stupid human tricks. Rather, he's got his own YouTube channel where you can, for example, find Kaine expounding on the importance of saving energy. It's pretty stultifying, standard fare: Use efficient bulbs, the always-popular "set your thermostat a little higher in the summer," and, of course, use mass transit.
This is about four rungs below public access cable fare. But wait, the Kaine Channel has better programming, if you hunt around a bit. Here's the governor hanging out with kids in the AP Government class at Martinsville High School.
Note the handheld camera and the amateurish sound production. The kids seem eager to get the heck out of the room, but Kaine manages to tell a couple of decent stories and he comes off as genuine, honest and straightforward.
"You can kind of get tunnel vision being on Capitol Square," the governor says of his time in Richmond's government center. So he's at this high school taking questions from students. They obviously haven't been prepped, nor do they seem to know much about Virginia politics or government, so the questions end up being as generic as they come:
How did you get inspired to enter public service? Kaine tells the story of his missionary work in Honduras and explains that he "Never thought I'd run for office." But his law work brought him before the Richmond City Council and after he decided he didn't like how business was being done, he ran and won.
What do you like most about being governor? one student asks. Going out to find and hire great people to run agencies, Kaine replies.
Then the governor turns the tables on the students and asks seniors, "How about you guys? What are you going to do next year?"
He points to a girl who pauses and then replies, "Um, I just got a rejection letter from JMU (James Madison University) like yesterday and that's where I really wanted to go."
Kaine quickly moves on to the next kid, but then regroups and tells about how he couldn't go to any of the colleges he had applied to and been accepted at because he didn't get financial aid and "my family couldn't afford any of them." So he had to go beg his way into the University of Missouri and "It worked out fantastic, so you're going to do fine."
Undaunted by that awkward bit, Kaine asks, "Any of you thought about politics?"
One girl said she's thought about it, but "it's intimidating." Kaine encourages her to check it out, but to consider doing something else first to get real world experiences. "Politics shouldn't be a career; I think politics should be something that you come to once you've had a career," he says.
But if you're looking for such interesting and candid moments, you'll come up mostly empty on the Kaine Channel. Mostly, you'll find mind-numbing prattle such as the governor's pitch to join him in taking a walk on National Employee Health and Fitness Day, which, as we all know, is coming right up on May 21.
Kaine is a step ahead of other local leaders in getting on the YouTube bandwagon. The Adrian Fenty Collection on the site consists mainly of old campaign appearances and a few news clips in which the Washington mayor is pushing for Barack Obama for president. Similarly, the clips of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley are mostly news interviews and bits from old campaign ads--no evidence that the governor's staff is looking to burnish his image on YouTube.
Which means that the regional leader who is least likely to ever run for elective office again is the one with the most exposure on YouTube. Hmm--maybe the man does harbor dreams of the vice presidency. Still, my bet is that this term as governor is the end of the road in elective politics for Kaine--he's probably got a whole other career bubbling around somewhere in his head. What do you see him doing next?
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