The Case for Kasich

During John Kasich's salad days as a congressional budget wonk, George W. Bush referred to him as "the future of the Republican party."  Now, in this tumultuous election year, the question arises whether Kasich – or, indeed, the Republican Party – has any future at all.

Kasich threw his hat in the ring rather late last year.  He was lining up financial supporters, because he knows from past experience that one cannot seriously conduct a nationwide campaign without a war chest of considerable proportions.

In 2000, Kasich formed an exploratory committee to investigate his chances for the Republican presidential nomination.  Unable to get the necessary backing, he abandoned the race even before the Iowa straw polls and threw his support behind the eventual candidate, George W. Bush.

Sixteen years later, he finds himself a distant third among the remaining trio of Republican wannabes, with only 143 delegates to Trump's 739 and Cruz's 465.  He has not caused much of a stir during his run, except for the present controversy as to whether he should stay in the fray or drop out and let the two top dogs duke it out.

Naturally, the Cruz camp is most insistent in urging Kasich's exit, the assumption being that his votes would automatically go to Ted.  Put in graphic terms, Ted would amputate John to avoid the gangrenous demise of the GOP at the tainted hands of the frontrunner.

Ingratiatingly, Cruz has invited Kasich's voters to abandon him and join "our team" in an effort to defeat Donald Trump.  In fact, the complication of Kasich's lingering candidacy has prompted some strange maneuvers in GOP ranks, such as Mitt Romney's campaigning with him, then telling his fellow Utah Republicans, mostly Mormons, to vote for Cruz in the state primary.  Cruzers even insinuate that a vote for spoiler Kasich is a vote for The Donald.  Trump, on the other hand, while welcoming a one-on-one contest with "Lyin' Ted," understands that his chances of besting him improve the longer Kasich sticks around.

The growing personal animosity between Trump and Cruz has spiraled out of control, threatening to implode the GOP as it lurches uncertainly toward the Cleveland convention and beyond.  This was supposed to be the year when any Republican could beat Hillary.  Instead, it has ended up being the year Republicans beat up on themselves.

The escalating ugliness has taken its toll on a worried electorate. Recent polls show that only a third of Republican voters are satisfied with the process of choosing the standard-bearer.  The unprecedented intrusion of GOP bigwigs to influence the outcome has obviously further angered voters.  Well aware of Her Heinous's preconceived lock on the Democrat race, we now find that the GOP hierarchy has stooped to that same low level of duplicity.

So rather than being sucked into the Republican primary maelstrom, John Kasich is clinging to the flotsam of hope.  Everyone would agree that he does not have a "mathematical" path to the nomination.  But there are other factors that could "figure" in.

No love will ever be lost between Cruz and Trump.  If The Donald manages to get the necessary 1,237 delegates to win on the convention's first ballot, that's that.  The anti-Trump die-hards will stay home on election day – or worse, vote for Hillary.

If no candidate goes to Cleveland with the required delegates, neither of the two front-runners will stoop to endorse the other on subsequent ballots.  And a hung jury could mean a public hanging for the Republicans in November.

Enter John Kasich, unarguably the most experienced candidate on both the federal and state level, along with years in the private sector.  Even more important is that recent polls give him a substantial lead in a challenge with Hillary Clinton.  And in the end, Republicans want to win.

Kasich is a rather bland guy, but his non-threatening image could make him generally more voter-acceptable than the divisive front-runners.  Early in the primaries, the consensus was that a competent governor would likely clinch the nomination.  This may yet take precedence over any desire among GOP voters for an "outsider."

Having been largely ignored by the media, John Kasich is making a gradual comeback.  He is gaining ground in the polls in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  So he hopes to stay in the race until the convention, where he'll be positioned as a compromise to two very contentious candidates whose followers will not support the other and whose mutual rancor could doom the Republican Party.

If the GOP wants victory in November, it could do far worse than choosing John Kasich as its standard-bearer.  His résumé is impressive, and, most of all, he could unite the party and go all the way to the White House.

So why hasn't John been embraced with greater enthusiasm?  The answer could lie more in his personal, as opposed to his political, posture.  He looks more folksy than presidential.  Sartorial splendor aside, he at least needs to jettison the windbreakers and checked shirts in favor of more suits and ties.  Rather than hugging trees and disillusioned constituents, he needs to start embracing his own electability.

We already know by now that John's Croatian father was a mail carrier.  We're aware of the governor's successes in Ohio, a crucial bellwether state.  What he needs to do now is inform us how we, as a nation, can benefit from the other aspects of his background: 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee, chairman of the House Budget Committee, key figure in the passage of welfare reform and the 1997 Balanced Budget Act under President Clinton.  Hillary will tout her State Department experience; John needs to counter with his own broad knowledge.

John Kasich is well qualified to be commander in chief.  Democrats, in general, regard him as a good person, someone who can unite, not divide, our country.  Attacks against him won't easily fly.

In this crucial election year, America's future may well depend on Republicans seeing John Kasich again for the first time.