John Kasich took to the CNN airwaves (or cable-waves) over the weekend to weigh in on everything from the White House’s firing of Steve Bannon to the North Korean nuclear issue to the fighting in Afghanistan.
Kasich, you might recall, is the governor of Ohio, at least until the end of 2018.
So why is Ohio’s Republican governor regularly appearing on CNN – the most anti-Trump cable network on television – commenting on national and world affairs?
Cleveland.com speculated about that Monday, noting “In what’s become a regular occurrence, Ohio Gov. John Kasich appeared on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday. Host Jake Tapper asked Kasich about various national and international topics. Almost as if he is still running for president…”
That’s because he is still running for president. On CNN, Kasich was asked about speculation that he would take on Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries.
“I don’t have any plans to do anything like that,” replied Kasich, according to Cleveland.com. Kasich added, “I’m rooting for him to get it together. We all are. We’re only like seven months into this presidency.”
Clever. Notice how even using words indicating support – “I’m rooting for him…” – it’s to set up a jab – “to get it together.” He adds, “We all are.”
We all are? I hope he wasn’t trying to speak for Jake Tapper, or CNN’s White House reporter Jim Acosta, or almost anyone else on the network. The only rooting CNN does for President Trump is for the opposite of success.
I believe Kasich when he says he has no plans to run in the Republican primaries against Trump or anyone else in 2020. Kasich was painfully slow to accept reality during his bid for the GOP presidential nomination last year, but it had to eventually dawn even on him that he cannot win Republican primaries outside of his own state – despite the ignominious honor (for a Republican) of winning the endorsement of the New York Times.
No, what Kasich will almost certainly do in 2020 – for sure if Trump seeks re-election, and still likely even if he doesn’t – is run for president as an independent. Kasich has long been trying to position himself as a common-sense, adult-in-the-room “compassionate conservative” who is above petty partisan squabbles and just wants to do what’s best for everyone.
As for being governor, well, that’s so yesterday. Cleveland.com also quotes from an article by Tyler Buchanan of the Athens Messenger, who laments Kasich’s focus on appearing on national TV programs while disappearing from Ohio by noting, “You might have forgotten that Kasich is still Ohio’s governor. He certainly has.”
Our governor has long considered himself a national player. He first offered himself up for president way back in 2000, but withdrew quickly. He has become one of the mainstream media’s favorite creatures – a Republican you can go to if you need someone to be critical of his own party and the Republican president.
But that’s OK since Kasich will run for president as an independent. He’ll talk about how the two-party system is broken, how both parties have lost sight of what’s best for average American families like the one he came from (his father was a mailman, if you managed to miss that tidbit during one of the million times Kasich has mentioned it), how we need to focus on what’s best for real people instead of the narrow interests of Republicans and Democrats.
But “Kasich the Unifier” revealed his truer self when it became clear last year that Republicans weren’t voting for him. When the GOP convention was held in his home state and he had a chance to welcome everyone to the big convention hall and unify the party, he refused to attend – except for some ancillary events like a celebration of himself at the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. When it came time to vote last November, he said he wrote in John McCain for president. Bitter much?
The biggest problem Kasich has with the president is that Trump presents that rarest of phenomena – an ego as large as Kasich’s. Each man exhibits the traits of their vast sense of self-worth in different ways. While Kasich doesn’t posture and boast in the same strutting-peacock fashion as the president, the governor reveals his smugness through his preachy style, his posing of questions he claims are asked of him that inevitably lead to self-aggrandizing answers, and his obvious belief that he is always the smartest person in any room.
An interview Kasich did with the Columbus Dispatch in 2008 – focusing on whether Kasich would run for governor – offers perfect examples of Kasich using the device of answering “concerns” shared, in reality, by absolutely no one.
“The important thing for people to know is that the success I’ve had in the private sector is not going to keep me from doing this,” said Kasich.
“In terms of people feeling that I’ve got a great life and might be unwilling to give it up, I’m beyond that now,” he said.
And my favorite, on the subject of how much he is loved: “Everywhere I go, people have been so enthusiastic. … I tell them I’m thinking about (running for governor) and get a standing ovation,” he said.
Kasich enjoys the standing ovations, and the ones he received from even the smallest gatherings on last year’s campaign trail offer enough motivation to do it again. Kasich 2020. Count on it.
Gary Abernathy is publisher and editor of The Times-Gazette. Reach him at (937) 393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.