The record will show that Calbuzz prophetically picked John Kasich, who quit the Republican presidential race Wednesday, as the #3 candidate in the field eight months ago, after first touting him as a #5 dark horse a month before he even got in:
The rooting favorite of our founders, who hail from Cincinnati and Cleveland respectively, Kasich is at risk from the Tea Party because of his disgraceful act of accepting Obama’s money to provide health care for poor people, but if Bush falters, he’s the only other grown-up in the room.
Oh sure, we whiffed on that whole Donald Trump thing, along with the rest of the punditry universe, although in defense of our Department of Prognostications and Las Vegas Cheap Fares, we did better than most of the Beltway geniuses, ranking him #5 back in August 2015 with some pretty prescient language:
We wouldn’t put it past deranged GOP primary voters actually to cast ballots for the guy (and remember, we warned you not to write him off) but look for him to set his two pounds of hair on fire by Halloween.
At least we were half right.
Why Kasich Mattered: Self congratulation and self-criticism aside, the withdrawal of Kasich, despite his failure to win more than his own state, represents an unalterable, profound transformation of America’s political landscape: only one of the nation’s major parties in 2016 will field a nominee capable of speaking in complete sentences and who routinely employs rationality, logic and Actual Facts.
There’s plenty of time to handicap and analyze the extraordinarily bizarre Clinton-Trump match-up, but this is the Ohio governor’s day, so let us briefly enumerate the traits he brought to the race, which once were just table stakes for any presidential nominee but are utterly lacking in the whack job neo-fascist the Party of Lincoln lists at the top of its ticket:
Hope, not fear: Kasich was positive and pragmatic, and never succumbed to the dark and dystopian style that characterized virtually every other member of what once was a 17-person field. Unlike Trump, he was neither paranoid, perfidious nor vicious and, despite our big disagreements with him on policy (hello, Planned Parenthood), it was clear that he understood that being president actually is about, you know, the country — unlike Trump, who behaves as if it’s all about him, not to mention his pathological need to convince himself his hands are really big as a way of masking what apparently is a severe sex problem.
Government 101: Kasich’s notion of leadership, based on experience in Congress and as chief executive of a large, diverse state, appeared to be rooted in the world we live in, which is to say the real world. Trump appears to have skipped Social Studies class on the day the teacher talked about the Separation of Powers, and his insistence that he, Trump, will solve the nation’s problems owes less to Adams, Jefferson and Madison than to Mussolini, Kim Il-Sung and Attila the Hun.
Compromise: Kasich, although a soldier in the Gingrich Revolution, not only allowed the essential importance of the federal government in shaping domestic policy, the economy and providing a social safety net, but also acknowledged the need to account for — and even accommodate! — viewpoints different than his own. Trump by contrast not only believes he has all the answers, despite his massive ignorance of the complexities and issues he would face as president, but also presumes that browbeating, intimidation and force are the paramount tools of politics, the logical culmination, evolutionary consequence and most monstrous mutation of every hot-shot corporate executive who recklessly thinks politics is just a second-rate form of business.
A partial exception was Governor John Kasich, In the Republicans’ first debate in August 2015, he was willing to break with party orthodoxy by offering an unambiguous defense of his push to have Ohio accept an expansion of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act. He offered a stirring defense of the interests of the working poor and seemed, for a moment at least, to be the incarnation of a compassionate conservative coming back to life. In late October, Kasich excoriated his party’s moves rightward on issues ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the flat tax. “What has happened to our party,” he asked. “What has happened to the conservative movement?”
Guess we’ll find out, governor.
P.S. Forget everything we said about Kasich if he runs as Trump’s veep.