Gorgeous George played slow-pitch political T-ball Sunday with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who continued his stealth campaign for President of the United States by again playing coy about his intentions for a White House run in 2016. “You’re not going to get a good answer” to that question he joked with ABC Sunday “This Week” talk show host George Stephanopoulos.
Calling in back up help early on in his short, upbeat exchange with President Bill Clinton’s former “War Room” PR guru, the mercurial governor invoked his always-present higher authority, saying what he’s done is because that’s “what the Lord wants him to do.” Ohio’s low-vote governor, who couldn’t even get 25 percent of registered voters in the state to vote for him on Nov. 4., cast himself as a compassionate uniter. This now widely accepted but fundamentally flawed narrative has been repeated so often that big buck pundits like Stephanopoulos and Dan Balz, the Washington Post’s national echo chamber pundit, routinely accept it as undisputed Kasichlore.
Elected by a wide margin this fall in what turned out to be the lowest voter turnout election since the 1940s, Gov. Kasich said economic growth should lead to helping people living in the shadows, the drug addicted and the working poor move beyond their conditions to prosperity. Stephanopoulos could have asked Ohio’s high priest why he’s fallen short for 24 consecutive months to meet the average national job growth. Stephanopoulos could have pinned Kasich into a corner on his poor job performance to date, especially in light of the really great job numbers released by President Obama last week. But he didn’t.
Slipping in a tidbit of his economic class warfare spiel, Gov. Kasich said the successful shouldn’t be torn down to build someone else up. He talked about Ohio as if he were an outsider looking in instead of a chief executive whose had his hand on the control switch for four years. From getting people on their feet to treating the mentally ill and the drug addicted, Ohio’s top elected official said Buckeyes now have a positive outlook. Ohio’s now term-limited governor warned that he “can fight with the best of them,” then said leaders like himself must be uniters not dividers, a sugary phrase remembered best because it was the mantra of the last and maybe worst President of the United States, George W. Bush, who Kasich schmoozed back in 2000, when the young admirer of President Richard M. Nixon tried in his short and unsuccessful campaign to curry favor with GOP president makers.
Kasich’s cheering squad, The Ohio Republican Party, was quick to tout the governor’s “strong leadership these last four years,” saying via email that “Ohioans want results and it’s hard to argue with Gov. Kasich’s jobs record and agenda that is creating better opportunities for all Ohioans.” Kasich bruiser Matt Borges, ORP Chairman, said, “Our great state is setting an example for other states and the nation to follow.” Borges is wrong, of course, because it’s very easy to argue that King Kasich has done right by workers, their families and seniors, all of whom have sacrificed so his wealthy benefactors can become even more wealthy at their expense.
But for anyone who has spent more than a minute at the statehouse since Citizen Kasich took control, his so-called Ohio Model, the one other states are supposed to follow like Dorothy following the Yellow Brick Road to Oz, only works when a hard-right governor like John Kasich, who’s views of the world haven’t changed a wit over the decades, has a hard-right legislature that embraces virtually any policy or program he proposes.
Even a professional performance politico like John Kasich knows his so-called “Ohio Miracle” can only work when Republicans control the legislative process. Democrats in Ohio, of which there are fewer and fewer these days, would certainly have curbed many of Kasich’s most egregious attempts to fatten the wallets of the already rich at the expense of the poor and shrinking middle class by sequestering billions in revenue that have forced local governments and schools to do the same with far less or tap local voters for tax hikes to make up the difference.