The relief on their faces was palpable. “Finally,” they were obviously thinking, “a presidential candidate who’s not a complete bozo!”
The cream of Vermont’s Republican crop was on hand — and visibly on stage — for yeseterday’s Town Hall meeting for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. There’s a wonderful photo by the Burlington Free Press’ April Burbank, showing a handful of top Republicans gazing toward Kasich with the sort of giddiness usually seen on the face of a kid with cancer who’s meeting a star athlete through Make-A-Wish.
Can’t say I blame ‘em. The prospect of running on a ticket with the likes of Donald J. Trump or Ted X. Cruz has to give people like Phil Scott the heebie-jeebies. Kasich, unlike the rest of the Republican Clown Car, offers the image of a reasonable, moderate conservative willing to work with all parties and feeling genuine concern for society’s poor and unfortunate. Couple of problems, though.
First, they’re jumping onto a leaky lifeboat. On the very day of his triumphal visit to Vermont, Kasich was getting his butt handed to him in the South Carolina primary, coming in fifth place behind a guy who “suspended” his campaign as soon as the results were posted, and barely ahead of Dr. Sleepytime, Ben Carson.
How did Kasich characterize his own campaign?
Ohio Gov. John Kasich probably could have used a better phrase for his plan to consolidate establishment voters than “we’re going to keep struggling” in an appearance on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.”
So the VTGOP came out strong for a candidate who’s hanging on by his fingernails, hoping against hope that a first-place finish in Vermont or Massachusetts and maybe second in Michigan will keep his campaign out of the ICU for another week or so.
Second, there’s the Inconvenient Truth about Kasich’s actual record, as previously chronicled in this space. He is not a moderate; he is not, when the rubber hits the road, compassionate. He is one of a number of Republican governors who have advanced the ALEC/Koch Brothers agenda as often and as hard as they can.
And there’s no reason to believe that President John Kasich would be any different. Quite the opposite: his record suggests his current persona is a sham, a Foxy Grandpa act designed to snooker gullible centrists yearning for a candidate who’s not a complete embarrassment.