Tuesday, January 31, 2006

NATION EDITOR KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL is peeved at the fact that the Democrats' choice of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to give the party's reply to Bush's State of the Union speech has not been greeted with universal approval in the liberal blogosphere. In particular, vanden Heuvel takes a potshot at Ezra Klein, in her blog today, for referring to Kaine's physical appearance in his post on January 21.

Ezra wrote:

The decision to have Tim Kaine deliver the SOTU response just looks weirder and weirder. Setting aside the ideological objections raised by Shakes and Arianna, the guy just lacks the technical talents for the role. Were he a new face with the rhetorical abilities of, say, Barack Obama, I'd be more sanguine. But Kaine is, at best, a functional speaker, not an orator for the history books. And nor is he a good looking dude who could put an attractive, fresh face on the party. He's a squat, squinty, pug-nosed fellow who just won an election that largely revolved around retail politics and the endorsement of his predecessor. I realize the leadership has read their Wallis and resolved to convince voters that Democrats really do adore the Baby Jesus, but the SOTU-response really isn't the time or the place for straining demonstrations of religiosity.

Katrina's reaction:

Why are so many liberal bloggers up in arms about Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine being picked to give the Democrat's reply to Bush's State of the Union? There's been fury in the blogosphere about everything from Kaine's looks, style, obscurity, his open talk about his faith and his inexperience in national security. Liberal writer Ezra Klein (no Brad Pitt, last time I checked him out) vented that Kaine is "a squat, squinty, pug-nosed fellow."

First of all, Ezra being no Brad Pitt is to Ezra's credit.

Second, Ezra's point was that Gov. Kaine was a bad choice to respond to the SOTU because he is not strongly liberal and isn't even a particularly inspired or dynamic speaker. This being the case, it's hard to understand why the Democrats chose him, since he isn't even great-looking. As Ezra writes in his response to Katrina today, politics is all about looks, so if Kaine were gorgeous, that might explain why he was chosen, despite his liberalism being muddy and his oratorical skills second-rate. But he isn't. So why was he chosen?

Katrina quotes Ezra's words about Kaine's appearance out of the context in which he wrote them, which makes it possible for her to accuse him of shallowness and then pettishly retaliate by telling Ezra he isn't so hot-looking either.

To which I say, she's either blind or has terrible taste in men, because Ezra is quite stunning in the looks department. But don't take my word for it. Check out what Jeralyn Merritt, Digby, and Shakes have to say.

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