John Kasich is trying to sell himself as the compassionate Christian politician who rises above crass politics to “lift [people] up no matter their circumstance,” as he promised Ohio voters last year. But that turns into bait and switch when people learn that Kasich is cranky, mean and dismissive.
And if your ego is so big that your path to victory relies on knocking others out of the race by engaging political operatives who willingly use Nixon-era dirty tricks to protect you, you won’t escape clear eyed criticism by saying you’re doing the Lord’s work.
Gov. Kasich’s multiple personalities may not be the best attribute for the leader of the free world, who needs to get along with other world leaders who may not see reality in the same way. Mr. Kasich’s grating personality, mentioned by many who get a chance to interview him as what strikes them after they leave, is fast becoming his cross to bear.
That theme came through loud and clear in an article posted at NBC.com that summed up what many think about Ohio’s Music Man governor. “Is John Kasich Too Cranky To Be President?” asks the question on many minds not paid to like him. Those who make their living off him are forced, for lack of a better explanation, to turn his irascible, self-basting and self-righteous personality into a virtue.
Mr. Kasich is at his best when the deck is stacked in his favor, as it was last year when he ran the Ohio Libertarian Party’s candidate for governor off the ballot. Gov. Kasich tires easily of reporters, especially reporters like myself who have known him from before he won his first election, when he was the legislative aide for a thoroughly moral delinquent state senator. After covering Mr. Kasich from his run for the office in 2010 to last year, when I was banned from covering his media events then again denied media credentials last February when Kasich’s press secretary Rob Nichols called me to personally convey the sad news that I was being denied access to cover his last State of the State [SOTS] speech, an event the showman politician has turned into his traveling PR circus, it’s no surprise he’s deep in the weeds of his own making. It’s also no surprise to anyone who knows him that he doesn’t much like the press and wouldn’t indulge them if he didn’t have to demonstrate a tiny bit of respect for the First Amendment.
For the record, Plunderbund has made a public records request to the governor’s office seeking information that might shed light on why I became a pool of one banned from reporting on his SOTS address, and the traditional post-speech exchange between media and legislative leaders. Fourth months after the request was made, Team Kasich has yet to release the requested records. But that’s also no surprise, because Gov. Kasich isn’t keen on public transparency to begin with. From exempting his pet, private agency JobsOhio from public scrutiny to not sharing his tax returns, as other Republican candidates like Jeb Bush are prepared to do, Gov. Kasich loves to keep prying eyes out of his affairs.
Article author Perry Bacon Jr writes, “He [Kasich] could be a top contender for the GOP nomination. But first, he might want to get people to stop calling him a jerk.” Republicans both privately and publicly say that Kasich’s style is grating, Bacon says, which means they are skeptical of whether it can be effective in a long presidential campaign. “In private settings and sometimes even in public ones, Kasich is known to be brusque, confrontational and dismissive of others’ views, even fellow conservatives.”
It may be too late to rehabilitate his reputation as an off-putting jerk, because that would demand John Kasich not be John Kasich. Being the mean maverick—he likes to say he’s normal because he’s unorthodox—is central to what he thinks is his main feature, marching in the GOP band but a little out of step with the rest. A hard-right governor on all important issues, his one shinning example of being a GOP contrarian has been accepting $2.5 billion to expand Medicaid. But Kasich’s personality is already an issue and was on display again last week in New Hampshire.
As the Concord Monitor reported, “The prickly Republican began with a tone of irritability.” After nearly an hour of facing media, the governor of Ohio had had enough. Kasich suggested that he was bored, Bacon wrote, even though a key part of his campaign strategy is winning in New Hampshire, where voters are more moderate. “I’m getting ready to be done with this. Are we getting close?”
One of Gov. Kasich’s new campaign hires, Fred Davis, is the media maven who produced the “I’m Not A Witch” spot for failed Delaware senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. Her campaign turned into a big joke after she responded to her wichtery claims. Maybe John Kasich’s first Fred Davis ad will be “I’m Not A Jerk.”