Snarking on going to Iowa, the first primary state where leaders can lose and nobodies become somebodies overnight, Ohio Gov. John Kasich routinely made fun of having to spend time in the Hawkeye State.

“Whenever they say something to me, I say, ‘OK — so you’re ready to go to Iowa?’ And then that’s the end of the conversation, and we move onto the next subject,” Kasich snarked to acolytes enthralled with his dream to out fox the circus of GOP hounds who already have or soon will enter the race to face off against Democrats next year.

Now it looks like some Iowans will get their chance to see Ohio’s executive leader up close and personal. Many in Ohio would prefer Kasich keep traveling, but he’ll have to return home to face a budget bill mostly not his, and choices in it that will need explanation that also pose problems as national media starts to look deeper into Kasichlore.

Kasich is scheduled to speak at the Greater Des Moines Partnership on June 24. He’ll necessarily have to make many visits if he wants Iowans to take him seriously. So far, the governor of Ohio has made stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two early primaries states. Iowans vote about a week before New Hampshire voters. Gov. Kasich may be well known in Ohio, but not anywhere else. The best he could do in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll was two percent. That tied him for 12th place behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who earned first-place with 17 percent. Reports say Kasich “half-apologized” to Iowa last year for appearing to criticize Hawkeyes for the way Iowa stages its caucuses.

Gov. ‘Harold Hill’ Kasich Goes To Iowa

What’s so fascinating and funny about John Kasich going to Iowa is that it matches up so well with the Music Man, a Broadway play that went big screen in 1962 about a flim flam salesman duping the rubes in a small Iowa town. The plot is simple: A traveling salesman, Professor Harold Hill, sees a small town ripe for the picking. He proceeds to concoct a scheme to fleece them out of money they pay him to build a band of town kids replete with uniforms and instruments. The idea for the band is to be a moral alternative to spending time in the town pool hall, owned by the mayor. Hill’s plan is to sell his bogus schene, get the money, then bolt town.

A good casting director would hire Ohio’s governor as a perfect fit for the lead role of Music Man, promising how great life will be if only his brand of belief and politics is followed. And if not, beware, because Ohio’s CEO governor, as Mr. Kasich described himself to NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press last Sunday, is in tune with what the Lord wants. But his time as governor shows how poorly his Music Man policies work for average folks here, and how bad they’ll be for Iowans or anyone else. From trying to union bust public sector workers in 2011 to to his recent rescinding of collective bargaining rights for about 10,000 home health care and child care workers, Gov. Kasich sees all paths leading to income tax cuts paid for by raising other taxes. He steals funds directed to local governments and schools, then tells them to do more with less while close off their options to fund service levels.

Known for his attention-getting remarks, he made one aimed at Jeb Bush that Todd called him on. During his appearance nearly a week ago on the venerated Sunday political talk show, Chuck Todd nailed the Governor of Ohio for his snarky remark about “Right to Rise,” Jeb Bush’s political action committee. For those who know the governor, they know he uses his iconic brand of humor as a weapon, slinging out subtle insults to challengers or competitors. Making his second run at being leader of the free world, John Kasich, as reported in Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, said of Mitt Romney in 2012, “he’s terrible.” No matter how terrible Romney was in Kasich’s eyes, the governor who squeaked to a win in 2010 and promised to be a firewall to a second Obama term showed up at Romney rallies, where he talked about himself. Basic Kasich says if he didn’t think of it or do it, it’s not right and needs reform, his reforms.

John Kasich’s so-called “Ohio Story” of turning around a state that was dead, as he told Todd Ohio was when he inherited a rising tide as Gov. Strickland guided the Buckeye State through tough times and put it on the road to recovery, is mostly fiction. But Iowans won’t know that, and Kasich will ply them like Professor Hill played the citizens of River City for chumps. He’ll deliver his now familiar homily about living up to his god-given potential, his miracle working that has produced to few jobs too slowly, cutting income taxes and replenishing Ohio’s rainy day fund. He won’t say how he did it, but Iowans who want to know can easily learn that he did it by shortchanging local governments and schools by billions. In the Music Man, the actor Robert Preston has a change of heart and delivers the promised instruments and uniforms. Gov. Harold Hill Kasich won’t make that same mistake.

Ohio’s Music Man governor is spending record amounts of taxpayer dollars, even though he wants a federal balanced budget amendment, an idea that all but the ideologically bound think would lead to real disaster if it ever became the law of the land.

Gov. Kasich will soon be in Iowa, where he doesn’t want to be as he’s already said. He’ll flim flam GOP primary caucus goers of their votes, should he actually be on the primary ballot there, as Iowans will learn they are just a stepping stone Mr. Kasich is forced to tread upon because his polling is so low and his path to victory is so cluttered with other obstacles, especially the growing stable of GOP candidates ready to push him down to get themselves ahead.

Maybe Iowans will make a somebody out of John Kasich. Or maybe they will see him as snarky loser scheming to bamboozle them with false hype and send him packing.

 

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