Conceit is not only vanity. It can also describe, as Webster says, "a quaint, artificial or affected notion." This is the deadly conceit of John Kasich, for it describes his belief in his own viability in an open convention.
Trump could win on the first ballot, or Cruz on the second or third. This result is being preordained by Republican delegates to state conventions, as they pack their delegations to Cleveland with people who will go to Cruz at the first opportunity. Many of them are required to vote for Trump on the first or second ballot, and they will do so. But they're for Cruz, and they are going to Cleveland to nominate him and will do so at the first opportunity.
Kasich's argument is that only he can beat Clinton, but these delegates don't believe it. They think she's a paper tiger, burdened by a life of scandals, failures, and lies. All she offers is four more years, and people want change. She has platitudes and fantasies, but no real economic path to prosperity. She's the worst nominee in a hundred years, and anyone but Trump will beat her.
Did you see what happened in Maine this weekend? You've seen this movie before, in North Dakota, and Wyoming, and Louisiana, and Colorado. You're going to see it again and again, starting next weekend in Delaware and Alaska and Virginia, and the 20 states that subsequently hold their conventions, and actually select their delegations. It's not so much the Cruz campaign as it is the spontaneous reaction of Republican grassroots activists, as they realize that Cruz is the only hope of stopping Trump.
Right now, the Cruz and Rubio delegates together number 725, or 120 behind Trump. Add the delegates Cruz will win between now and the convention, and to that total add the "hidden" Cruz delegates who are required to vote for Trump on first or second ballots, and you easily get to 1,237.
Kasich may have a few "hidden" delegates of his own in places like Indiana. But as these state conventions continue to add to Cruz's second- and third-round strength, and fail to give Kasich any support, his plan of winning an open convention is revealed as a fantasy. Cruz will have those votes, and Kasich won't.
As the weeks go by, and the actual Cruz delegate count expands, it will become more and more apparent that Kasich is on a fool's errand. He can't win himself. But it's possible that by staying in, he can deliver the nomination to Trump, and the election to Clinton.
Then John Kasich will make the most important public decision of his life, one for which he knows he will be held accountable. He knows full well the calamity that a Clinton presidency would bring. If his bullheadedness gives Trump the nomination, he will go down in history as the ultimate spoiler, the man who aided and abetted the destruction of the modern conservative movement he's been a part of since he was at Ohio State and a volunteer for Ronald Reagan.
Will Kasich, at some point in May, see the light? Will his financial backers? The media is hell-bent on nominating Trump and electing Clinton. It really boils down to a simple question.
What kind of a man, and an American, is John Kasich?
Fritz Pettyjohn was the chairman of Reagan for President, Alaska, 1979-80. He blogs daily at ReaganProject.com.