Below is an article from Politico written by former Democratic Governor Wilder on DNC Chairmen Kaine's job performance.
During the 2008 campaign, I strongly endorsed Barack Obama for president. I did so early, when many Democratic leaders — including many prominent African-American politicians — believed the safe bet was to back then-front-runner Hillary Clinton.
I backed Obama not because of skin color but because he convincingly made the case that he stood for “change” that this country needs. Now, across many fronts — in public policy and politics alike — people have rightly been questioning whether the change has been for the better. Unfortunately, the answer so far is clear: not yet.
I still believe Obama can stand for positive change. But first he must make some hard changes of his own.
The need is becoming more obvious by the day: He must overhaul his own team, replacing the admittedly brilliant advisers who helped elect him with others more capable of helping him govern. Getting elected and getting things done for the people are two different jobs.
I am an admirer of Tim Kaine, whom I backed in his current position and as one of my successors as Virginia governor and even recommended for the vice presidency. But a spate of recent losses in races that Democrats should have won underscores what has been obvious to me for a long time: The chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is the wrong job for him.
The changes must go much deeper. Obama’s West Wing is filled with people who are in their jobs because of their Chicago connections or because they signed on with Obama early during his presidential campaign.
One problem is that they do not have sufficient experience at governing at the executive branch level. The deeper problem is that they are not listening to the people.
Hearing is one thing; listening is another.
Some are even questioning whether Obama has forgotten how he got elected and the promises he made to the people who elected him.
Don't take my word for any of this. Look at the clear message the American people have been sending at the polls these past few months.
In my native Virginia, voters went to the polls and turned the Democrats out of the Executive Mansion with more votes and by a higher percentage than had ever happened since we ended one-party government rule 50 years ago. I told the president that this could very well happen and did not support his candidate.
Indeed, even before Bob McDonnell’s resounding victory, the canary had been dead on the floor for months. In Virginia's most Democratic-friendly regions, the Democrats had been narrowly winning — or outright losing — special elections that should have been taken easily.
The same trends that are evident in Virginia are obvious elsewhere — even in states that historically are much more Democratic. New Jersey voters, given a chance to reelect a Democratic governor who promised to be the president's partner in the state capital and for whom Obama vigorously campaigned, instead chose a Republican prosecutor who had been appointed to his job by George W. Bush.
After both these debacles, people at the DNC and the White House insisted these were local results with no deeper meaning.
Then came Massachusetts. When Scott Brown promised voters he would be the 41st vote in the U.S. Senate to halt the Obama agenda, generally, and the health care plan, in particular, his rise in the polls was meteoric.
It's not rocket science where the American public wants the president to concentrate his energies. In all the above elections I cited, voters were practically screaming one word with four simple letters: Jobs.
People will rightly hold Obama accountable. Obama must in turn hold the people on his own team accountable.
Tim Kaine is a friend whom I respect. I personally pushed for his consideration by Obama for the vice presidency because he was the first governor outside of Obama's home state to endorse him, and it was a bold step away from our state's past history.
Though I discussed with Tim what I was doing relative to the vice presidency, he and I never had any discussions as to whether he should be the national party chairman. There are several reasons why I felt then, and do now, that it is not a good fit for Tim, the party or Obama.
Positioning Democrats as "tax and spend" has been a favorite pastime of Republicans. Another has been "soft on crime." Republicans are surely going to remind voters, nationwide, that Chairman Kaine tried to balance his budget in his last days as governor by proposing a $1 billion-plus personal income tax increase. This measure was "shot down" in the first week of the legislative session with not a single person, including Democrats, voting for it (0-97). Even the patron of the bill abstained.
Kaine's recommendation to the Justice Department to transfer one of Virginia's inmates to a federal jurisdiction, and ultimately to Germany, for possible parole in two years was almost immediately withdrawn by the incoming Republican governor and Republican attorney general. Because of the serious nature of these heinous murders and the clearest evidence of guilt, many are still asking why.
Is that who this president wants to be arm in arm with as we enter a pivotal election year? For his sake, it shouldn't be. The president has enough to worry about and defend without this detracting sideshow as to feckless party leadership.
The president was the one elected to lead, not the people around him. He was elected to be in front, to take charge. Leadership is a tautology; it defines itself.
Obama's job approval ratings are sliding, but we Democrats are told not to worry. We are told that he remains personally popular with the American people.
It would be a grave mistake for the president and those around him to misread the current polls and analyses. They suggest that 1) the American people do not like the direction in which the country is heading; 2) they do not believe that either Democrats or Republicans are showing that they get the message and are doing the business of the people; 3) they hold Congress in very low regard; but 4) they really like the president. Yet, they keep going to the polls to rebuke him resoundingly every chance it is presented.
Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.
The president should keep uppermost in his mind the biblical admonition as to what happens to those trees that do not bear "good fruit": The ax is already at the tree.