The choice of Virginia senator Tim Kaine to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate was not really a surprise. She was unlikely to pick the other names being dropped (Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker) because they are all senators from states that have Republican governors which means that if Clinton wins, the appointee who replaces the senator will be a Republican. Since the Senate has been so obstructionist of Barack Obama, you have to think that Clinton would not take any action that harms her chances of getting a Democratic majority.
Kaine’s choice has upset some progressives because of his friendly ties to Wall Street and his support of trade deals and the TPP in particular. With the nomination of Clinton, those issues are a lost cause because she firmly holds those same positions. During the campaign, Clinton has switched positions on TPP and Kaine has followed suit but I fully expect them to reverse course and support it if they win. However progressive a vice-president is, Clinton will never be swayed on those issues. Neither will she be swayed on her anti-Palestinian stance since she is completely in the pocket of the Israel lobby.
The question is where Kaine stands on a lot of issues for which she does not seem to have such fixed positions. On social issues, he seems to be quite good but a key issue is when the inevitable time comes when the US considers yet another war or other forms of military action, whether Kaine will adopt the neoconservative and bellicose attitude towards Russia and China that Clinton does or whether he will argue against war.
Kaine has been in politics long enough that is unlikely to have any unknown skeletons in his closet or to make some major blunder and he seems to have got off to a good start.
Kaine seems to be a safe choice and if he can build on his reputation for progressive stands on social issues, he may be able to generate at least some of the enthusiasm among progressives that Clinton lacks.