Pret-a-Reporter

Tim Kaine and the Internet Obsession With Dad Culture

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Leave it to Twitter to turn the politician into a lovable sitcom stereotype.

In the days since Hillary Clinton announced Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her running mate, several explainers have been written about the 58-year-old on the Democratic ticket. 

However, those articles that outline Kaine's education, political résumé and his voting track record have been far outnumbered by articles pertaining to a whole other side of the politician: Tim Kaine the Dad. 

Articles like "Did Tim Kaine Remind You of Anyone Last Night?" "Vice Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine Was Also a Super Hot Young Dad," and "Twitter Just Turned VP Nominee Tim Kaine Into Your Dad" fall in line with internet culture's current obsession with all things #Dad and offer more insight into the average life of middle America's father figures than the vp candidate himself.

Like most World Wide Web trends, the dad discussion grew out of the dark corners of tumblr around 2009, when #DadJokes started to fester and caused eyes to roll around the globe. But soon, dad culture found its way into the mainstream, culminating in a nostalgic peak '90s dad image (a middle-aged man wearing a T-shirt tucked into cargo shorts with tube socks, sneakers and a hat) that added vocabulary such as "dad hat," "dad jeans" and "dadbod" to the internet lexicon.

This new wave of dad obsession also gave way to the latest iteration of the DILF — one that is less about conventionally hot fathers (think David Beckham) and more about fathers whose attraction stems from their goofy or adorkable nature (think Chevy Chase in Vacation). The movement generated memes about schoolgirl-style crushes that are partly sarcastic for the sake of retweets and internet clout — but also kind of genuine.

A prime example of this half ironic, half sincere fangirling is the web's reaction to Dean Strang, one of Steven Avery's lawyers on the Netflix docuseries Making a Murderer. While Strang is no leading man in the looks department, his compassionate nature caused the hearts of America's young people to flutter.

Lucky for Kaine, vintage photographs prove that he was, in fact, pretty good-looking back in his prime. And even now, in all his baggy blazer, red-white-and-blue necktie glory, he's still got a glint in his eye. The bigger question should (probably) be whether Kaine's dad image is a good look for the country. The answer? To be determined.

 

A photo posted by Tim Kaine (@timkaine) on

 

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