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Could either of these become the greatest Tim in history?

July 5th, 2008

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    Are Kaine (left) and Pawlenty (right) on-track for the Vice-Presidency?

“If Henman ever wants to win Wimbledon, he’ll have to change his name. Henman was the first person named Tim to achieve anything at all… The (name’s) association is with ‘timid’ and ‘timorous’ from the Latin ‘timere’: to fear … The real puzzle is that the Tims do as well as they do.”

Amis was wrong in at least one respect – the name Timothy has Greek roots (Τιμόθεος – meaning ‘honouring God’) – but he did pick up an interesting point: that, given its comparitive popularity, very few Tims (including Henman) have ever achieved greatness. The only other two who came to mind when I faced this challenge were Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the internet) and Tim Russert, the great American journalist who sadly passed away only weeks ago.

Now that the unbearable weight of Wimbledon-based expectation has been passed onto the young shoulders of Andy Murray, there is also a vacancy for the world’s most successful Tim (in the eyes of Amis at least). There is a reasonable chance that the next great Tim will in fact be the next Vice President of the United States.

Betting on the Vice-Presidential race is, in the view of most serious political punters (including Mike Smithson), little better than a crap-shoot. Too much of it relies on personal relationship (or lack thereof), and the sensible electoral calculus of the commentariat and psephologists is torn asunder by the ravages of internal party politicking or a lack of personal chemistry. That said, I still find it one of the most enjoyable horse races in politics, and pre-evaluating the impact that each potential choice would have on the Presidential contest should give us a head-start if the markets move when an annoucement is finally made.

TIM PAWLENTY is the Governor of Minnesota, and has been one of the most loyal McCain supporters since the very beginning, by agreeing to co-chair the Exploratory Committee back in January 2007. That sort of personal loyalty goes a long way with McCain, given that this was far from the smoothest of paths to the nomination. He is also well-regarded in the GOP, even allowing Norm Coleman to take the Republican nomination for an open US Senate seat unopposed at the behest of Vice-President Dick Cheney. He is fiscally very conservative, and although he has never performed brilliantly in his election or re-election campaigns (never more than 50% of the vote), his popularity will have been boosted by bringing the GOP Convention in a Presidential election year to the twin cities of Minneapolis-St Paul.

I suspect he would provide ballast for McCain on domestic issues, given his executive experience, and would be a popular choice amongst most conservative voters – certainly nothing to scare the horses. His support for ethanol could help John McCain in Iowa (McCain has opposed subsidies, essentially giving this corn-growing Bush State to the candidate it launched – Barack Obama), and given the wafer thin margin of Democratic victories in both Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2004, he may be a smart choice to force the Democrats to tend to their own swing states. There is an interesting piece from Real Clear Politics here.

TIM KAINE is the Governor of Virginia, and whose endorsement of Barack Obama was, in my view, one of the more important endorsements that the presumptive Democratic nominee received. Virginia is high on the list of Bush states that Obama is hoping to take – former Governor Mark Warner is also running to join Jim Webb in the US Senate.

Kaine is, by all accounts, a good Governor, and has built on the foundations (some would say travelled on the coattails) of the work Mark Warner did previously. A Southern Governor would balance the ticket, and would provide executive experience to Obama’s relatively short legislative record. His position on social issues may ameliorate some Republicans as well – he opposes the death penalty in principle but has allowed six exections as Governor, he opposes abortion personally (not legislatively) and has voted against partial-birth, and disagrees with same-sex marriage though vetoed an amendment to ban it. This could be seen as flip-flopping, or it could be that Democrats will see someone who votes their way, and Republicans will see an influence on Obama that accords with their values. I think he would be an interesting choice.

Interestingly, both Kaine and Pawlenty were invited to a joint-interview/debate on Fox News Sunday back at the beginning of June, an both were asked about their respective chances of the Vice-Presidency. A transcript of this segment can be found here. For my part, I think Pawlenty is significantly more likely to be chosen than Kaine, although both could expect a prominent role in the enxt administration if their chosen candidate is successful.

So there may not be many great men in history called Tim, but in spite of the dangers of this unpredictable betting market, I can’t help but feel that the next Vice President of the United States (and possibly the next POTUS-but-one) could well go one step further in proving Martin Amis wrong.

Morus

Latest betting on the GOP VP nominee can be found here

Latest betting on the Democratic VP nominee can be found here






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