Monday, January 25, 2016

John Kasich and the Politics of Glee

Dateline Amherst NH VFW, Saturday 1/23/2016

You know John Kasich really IS trying to run a sunny upbeat dignified campaign for the GOP Presidential Nomination.  He is running for President "Joyously" which was exactly the schtick that Jeb Bush promised back in 2015 when all things were possible and Donald Trump was Fox News Jobber.  Of course this IS the contemporary GOP so it's all a matter of degree, Kasich declines to spend ninety minutes of Town Meeting Time ranting and raving like Yosemite Sam about Barack Obama's vices and this glum apocalyptic GOP crowd that is enough to bid on veritable "Happy Warrior" status.
And what the hell, Kasich does have a wit, its a gubernatorial wit to be sure and won't stand up to the slightest pressure but in a race where Ted Cruz openly promises his audiences atomic war one has to take one's corny laughs where they can be found.
Some would say he is "comfortable in his own skin" (a phrase I've never understood)...Kasich strikes me as a bit more giddy than anything else, he seems reconciled to his end-run around the venom and anger of the current field, that seems the limit of his grinning self possession.
That is little enough but the GOP race is so sodden with gruesome sentiments that its enough to appear to be a towering humanitarian.
Otherwise Kasich seems a rambling rather orthodox gubernatorial conservative, several fairly pointed questions from the audience were simply not answered at all in favor of long discursive anecdotes.
No Governor of Ohio in living memory has ever been cursed with eloquence but Kasich could not summon anything memorable to say when asked what his greatest challenge was in public life.  The Ohio Governor also has a startling habit for taking undue credit for the balanced budgets submitted by President Clinton back in 1997 when Kasich was a ranking congressman from Ohio. And his national security plan somehow involves cashiering 900,000 Pentagon bureaucrats while giving said institution additional funding of some 100 billion (on top of the 900 billion The President is already allocated too the same).
Kasich made much of his record of tracking non-violent offenders away from prison terms but almost everyone these days is having second thoughts about crowding in potheads with Crips and Bloods.  As for Obama-care here again Kasich took to rambling promising lower deductibles, transparency and a nebulous system of rewards for "better care at a lower price"  how all this is done without funding was never delineated.
I can't say his education notions break new ground either, Kasich wants to bundle up one hundred and four Federal Programs relating to education and drop them back on the States, this is the olde GOP "Federalist Two Step" a great of freedom is dropped on the individual states to "design their own educational utopia" sans the burden of funding.
Bush has been saying something similar, Christie as well (when he stops screaming and shaking his fist of course) its the old republican passive aggressive educational dodge.
He also said nice things about vocational education and like the rest of them he wants to end "social promotion" (that much will be a Federal Initiative to be sure), unlike almost anyone else on the campaign trail though I did not hear John Kasich jump ugly on the teacher's unions or public sector unions at all.
But then again I was late to this particular Town Hall and who knows what his opening schtick covered....?
Nor did he take some particularly obvious bait when asked if he favored term limits for Supreme Court Justices (this has a been a muted topic at other candidate town halls this year), Kasich hemmed and hawed and politely declined to back the notion, but I'd hardly call it Hubert Humphrey coming out for a bombing halt or anything.
On the other hand Kasich talks in vague terms about a "People's Court" wherein the average citizen can interact with the regulatory bureaucracy on terms of equality, this strikes a notion fraught with danger and veritable free fire zone for lobbyists in the making.
So there you have it, John Kasich Happy Warrior.  Its an act that currently is supposedly boosted him into a distant second place in New Hampshire and is sufficient to earn him the usual petulant attack adverts from Jeb Bush's PAC (With each passing day I come to the conclusion that Jeb just wants to take the entire GOP Mid Card down with him nothing more he has written off the big job long ago)....but is it enough to  get Kasich into contention?
Probably not, the second slot in New Hampshire has been a volatile sinecure for the past three months (At various times Carson, Rubio and Christie have all tasted it), this might simply be "Kasich's Week in the Sun".  On the other hand settling himself up as a stylist contrast to the rest of the field might pay off down the line when it's time to select a vice presidential candidate. Ohio is a swing state after all and the GOP has been doing piss poorly above the Mason Dixon in four straight Presidential Elections.
We will see how giddy John Kasich can be when it's "Trump-Kasich in 2016"....

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