For a day or two, Lima, Ohio dressed itself up as the proud center of the universe to welcome the governor. From the reports I read, the Kasich-led assault on the town with a mobile army of politicians, media and curiosity seekers from Columbus had to be the biggest quake since a ruptured crude oil line sent 77,000 gallons into Lima’s sewers, with the ensuing explosions and fires forcing the evacuation of 7,000 residents. That happened in the days of Gov. Jim Rhodes, no shy huckster himself even though it never occurred to him to move the State of the State address out of the state capital to, say, Jackson County, his childhood home..
That makes Kasich, who doesn’t mind reminding you with his own steely rhetoric, that he is an even bigger thinker than Rhodes. As he told us in a speech I watched on TV in the security of home, “We must not fear big ideas”.
Before he uttered that challenge, everybody seemed to have had a grand time in town. The Lima News reported that he had “enjoyed a quick Kewpee Burger” and his wife Karen delightedly bought a new outfit while shopping at Nitza’s, which I’m guessing is one of Lima’s iconic women’s stores.
We also learned from the hometown paper that state officials, including Ohio Board of Regents Interim Chancellor Stephanie Davidson, sat down to lunch prepared by the Apollo Career Center culinary arts students and ate well. (State officials always do.)
Once everyone made it to the Veterans Memorial Civic Center amid the big photos of the governor stuck to every Lima News coin box, most of the thrill of an out-of-town junket seems to have worn off when they settled into their seats.
Oh, they managed polite applause for each saber-like thrust from the the governor’s jutting lower lip and rocking shoulders, but you must remember that they had heard all of the words in the earlier reports leading up to Lima. In this soaring moment, they were merely hearing the music and clapping to the beat.
Kasich doesn’t deal with anything unless it is in brusque hyperbole. Europeans are so impressed with Ohio’s progress, he told us, that some will be arriving along the Olentangy River soon to start building stuff. That’s if they get to the Buckeye State before all of the real estate is bought up by eager companies from other states who want to call Ohio their home. Once again, there was no mention in the closing credits of the Obama administration’s bailout of the auto industry that is the mainstay of rising employment health in the state. Instead:
Jobs are increasing faster than Ohio’s State’s grid victories and he’s proud to be in the forefront of this great economic revival that will permit him to cut taxes, reform education and fix bridges. His enthusiasm has never been in doubt for his “big ideas”.
Of course, the governor’s big ideas are already driving some nervous Republican conservatives to the seclusion of the legislative cave. And that’s not his only problem: There’s an outfit called the Ohio Liberty Coalition – Tea Partyers, if you haven’t already guessed – that has threatened with extinction any politician who supports the governor’s expansion of Medicaid and sales tax base.
As we’ve seen in other states, Teabagger -invaded Republican primaries can create a helluva mess for any incumbent trying to escape the consequences. And there aren’t enough people living in Lima to save them.