Is Ohio Gov. John Kasich thinking about and actively pursuing a presidential run in 2016 despite repeated weasel comments that he’s not? You would be fooling yourself if you answered no. Gov. Kasich, now 62-years old, has reached his highest office to date in his long and lucrative career as an elected public official. From state senator to congressman to governor, the messiah of reform knows his last chance to grab the national spotlight in his totally transparent campaign to both downplay and accelerate his name as a real presidential contender in two years won’t last long.
Having already jetted out to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of Sin City’s biggest casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, whose fabulous wealth is seeking a Republican who can get their ticket punched to live in the White House, it’s no surprise that Johnny Pennsylvania would show up at exactly the kind of big buck event he dreams to be at while playing the role at home of just another commonsense conservative whose ideas have proved to not work even though he’s had virtually no challenges from a Republican legislature who’s given him almost everything he wants.
But reports from the event, published by Bloomberg News, said the Lord’s choice for reelection this year in Ohio was anything more than ho-hum. According national political whiz Mark Halperin, Kasich followed Kentucky Senator Rand Paul but preceded New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was in Ohio recently to continue his love fest with Kasich. John Kasich was the only member of the troupe that trooped to 834 Fifth Avenue, the glittering home of New York Jets owner Wood Johnson, that was up for reelection. Halperin remarked that one big black limousine after another depositing well-heeled Republican donors in front of the Upper East Side apartment, which happens to be on the market for $75 million in cash.
If political watchers have learned anything over the years, it’s that John Kasich is in love with John Kasich, and that even when he’s supposed to talk about someone else—like he did in 2012 when he stumped for Mitt Romney in Ohio—he can’t talk about anyone else but John Kasich. And so it was in NYC, where the haul for the evening according to Halperin was over $2 million, Kasich “highlighted his record in Ohio, including his programs for treating the mentally ill.”
Aside from the reality that Kasich inherited a recovering economy that outpaced the national average but has since underperformed the national average going on 22 straight months since he and his pet secret agency JobsOhio showed up, his favorite but false narrative that he wants to uplift people by reducing income tax rates and making government the handmaiden of the private sector was on full display again before a crowd that included GOP stalwarts like Rupert Murdock and others who can dump millions at a pen stroke into political campaigns.
According to Halperin, “Once again, the feeling in the room was pretty low energy as Kasich concluded.” Low energy? Who knew that Kasich’s ah-shucks ma style, a delivery that plays well with low-information voters who swallow his narrative that he wants to help “people living in the shadows” would bomb with the fat-wallet crowd. But it did, at least in NYC. In Ohio, where he won by a skinny margin in 2010 and could win by double digits this time, the hokum of his story, dipped for good measure in cryptic Bible babble, plays well enough that he could be on his way to more opportunities to sell himself as the GOP’s next viable candidate for presidential or vice president.
Will Kasich’s oversized ego accept anything less than president, or will he hide his hard-right talons, as he’s done successfully this election cycle, enough that he comes across not as the stubborn non-thinker who’s as mean today as he was during his early years in office but as a so-called moderate because he expanded Medicaid over objections of his Tea Party wing? Time will tell, but time has already told us that John Kasich is still as lost and wrong today as he was years ago, when his first attempt at the White House in 2000 crashed before it every took off.