Hillary and Tim News & Views: 08.03.16: Funeral in RI, Tim in FL
All Kauveri wanted for her seventh birthday was to meet Hillary (and a Star Wars Lego set). She got both!
Guest post by rugbymom
On Tuesday Hillary and Bill Clinton took time away from campaigning to attend the funeral of their long-time friend and Democratic activist Mark S. Weiner at Temple Beth-El in Providence, RI (about a mile from my house). A number of other Democratic big-wigs were there, including VA Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., and Sanders campaign consultant Tad Devine (who knew Weiner as students at LaSalle Academy in Providence — RI is a very small world). You may remember Bill mentioning Weiner (who had just died) in passing in his DNC speech. Weiner, a life-long Rhode Islander, was active in Democratic Party political organizing and fundraising for more than thirty years, former chair of the RI Democratic Party, and headed a marketing firm that supplied campaign items to Obama and other Democrats. He was supposed to be a Clinton delegate to the Convention, along with his wife Susan Weiner, but as his leukemia progressed, he relinquished his slot. He had still hoped to get to Philadelphia to hear Hillary’s acceptance speech, but died early Tuesday just before leaving Newport.
During his eulogy, Bill Clinton described Weiner as "forever young, forever exuberant, and always just a little too much." He recalled Hillary Clinton had hired Weiner to oversee an Indiana congressional district during Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign in that state.
He noted Weiner died preparing to go to Democratic convention. "He was always on the job, always trying to advance what he believed in."
* * * *
“No one will ever think of him for more than 30 seconds without breaking into a smile," he said.
After Clinton spoke, Hillary Clinton, looking distraught, followed the casket down the center aisle.
It’s easy to forget that people who work together over decades on a common goal of improving the country forge deep personal bonds that go far beyond ideology, or pragmatic mutual back-scratching. Condolences to the Clintons (and the Weiner family) for this profound loss, and thanks for showing up.
Who was campaigning? Tim Kaine! (What a difference having a two-person team!) He spoke at a rally at Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, FL, part of a
“jobs tour” that emphasizes (per the campaign website) “his and Secretary Clinton’s plans to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.” Before speaking, Kaine toured the culinary labs at the college’s Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management. Kaine also discussed the Zika epidemic that has affected both Florida and Puerto Rico, urging Congress to return from its recess to pass a $1.1 billion bill to combat Zika without the anti-abortion language added by House Republicans. Both campaigns obviously know how important FL is in any Electoral College map; Trump will be holding a rally in Daytona Beach this afternoon.
While I’m focused on Tim Kaine, I’d like to reflect a bit on his bilingual abilities and why that matters in this election. As you may remember, even before he was confirmed as the VP nominee, Kaine was interviewed (in Spanish) on the Univisionprogram Al Punto, comparable to Meet the Press. The Sunday after he was named, right before the Convention, he was interviewed by both Univision and Telemundo, (Links go to full video, if you want to watch/listen.) He’s gotten good marks on his Spanish from the interviewers. During the Convention, the DNC and the Clinton campaign had multiple staff assigned to work with Spanish-language media, providing Spanish texts of speeches, Spanish twitter feeds, and interviews, a sharp contrast to the RNC.
There have been a number of articles (such as this from Buzzfeed) looking at the engagement of Hispanic voters this cycle, intensified by the horror (and terror) generated by Trump’s anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rants. Because of this, Spanish-language media and their audiences are watching the campaign very closely. Jorge Ramos at Univision (referred to as “the Walter Cronkite of Latino America") and Jose Diaz-Balart at Telemundo are among the best and most highly-respected journalists in the country. A campaign that can — and is willing to — promote its candidates through those channels, in Spanish, has a chance to reach voters who rely on those outlets. Clinton has known that from the beginning, with ads, tweets, and now a separate @Hillaryenespanol channel, but Kaine’s presence reinforces the commitment. AsUnivision points out (with great maps), there are enough primary-Spanish voters in FL, OH, and PA to affect the results in those key states.
But there is another dimension that intersects with anti-racism work and my own experience as a non-native Spanish speaker. (I’m drawing here from anti-racism activists like Tim Wise and Andrea Avazian.) If you are a white person whose first language is English — in the privileged position — and you are serious about inclusion and diversity, it isn’t enough, IMO, to just wear a button saying “I welcome everyone.” That translates as “you — the other — are welcome to come over to where I am, on my turf, in my comfort zone.” OK, that’s better than “get out of my rally and my country!” — a lot better. But if we’re serious, we all have to be willing to go out of our comfort zone, onto the other person’s home turf, where we are the “other,” the outsider. We have to go way more than halfway across the bridge. Those of us who are Christian need to observe Ramadan, not just invite Muslims to our Christmas party. Those of us who are white need to go to a black church where we may be the only white person there, the only one who doesn’t know all the words to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by heart. Or, like Tim Kaine and Anne Holton, and Anne’s parents before that, to send our children to majority-black schools. Those of us who are primary-English speakers need to go to places where we have to speak our second language (even badly), rather than expecting everyone else to speak English. We all need to become learners, not already-know-it-all teachers. So Tim Kaine speaking Spanish, on Spanish-language media, has a different resonance than a native speaker like Labor Sec. Tom Perez doing so.
Hillary Clinton gets this, and has for a long time, as shown by her comfort level in African-American churches and other majority-black settings, as well as her clear rhetoric on white anti-racism and her deep listening to the experiences of the Mothers of the Movement, of Karla Ortiz and her family, of so many others. Tim Kaine’s willingness to use his Spanish to build connections — to go way more than halfway across the bridge — demonstrates a similar attitude that goes beyond just pragmatic “outreach” and way beyond “tolerance.” As Kaine himself told Univision, ““Mi español no es perfecto pero puedo escuchar en dos idiomas” — “My Spanish isn’t perfect, but I can listen in two languages.” For Kaine, as for Clinton, listening is the key.
I’ll let el hermano Tim have the last word today (he’s signing his personal tweets -TK, just as Hillary signs hers -H):