KasichMimeSMOhio Gov. John Kasich appears to be counting on the Republican Party base to find its long-lost mind.

He wants to make them understand he only expanded Obamacare out of Christian duty. He wants to convince them there is value in the appeal he feels he’d have beyond the party’s lunatic fringe.

Either he believes he can do this, or New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait is right and Kasich is on a self-consciously futile  “quest for glorious martyrdom,” the purpose of which is never entirely clear.

I’m more inclined to the obvious: simple political ambition greased by sycophants and self-delusion.

The man who is currently convincing Kasich he can draw blood from the stone is chief strategist John Weaver, who last sat on the bus with Huntsman’12 and before that, McCain’00.

In a delightful turn of phrase Chait calls Huntsman’s bid “flamboyantly moderate,” while McCain is recalled as the doomed insurgent and maverick. Well, Weaver, third time’s a charm? Ho ho.

Chait gets to the center of the Tootsie Pop early (spoiler: it has to do with the realities of governance v. hysterical reactionary ideology):

“John Kasich is a highly popular (ED. NOTE: dubious claim) governor of a vital swing state, possessed of national experience and long-standing ties to his party’s financial and ideological elite. He is launching a presidential campaign that stands virtually no chance of success…

(Kasich) came face to face with the actual political choice faced by American politicians: whether to support the (Medicaid expansion) coverage offered under Obamacare for the poor, or to leave them with nothing. Kasich actually came out and said that taking health insurance away from extremely poor people is immoral.

This was completely beyond the pale, infuriating conservative activists. Kasich has found himself increasingly alienated within the party. He courted supply-siders in New York in March, where he met with a frosty reception.”

You can’t appeal beyond the zealot fringe without losing the zealot fringe, Johnny, and the zealot fringe is your party’s base.

My favorite anecdote from the piece actually comes a couple graphs earlier, in which Kasich invites us to “walk in somebody else’s moccasins” and relates a conversation he had with an unnamed Ohio state legislative leader.

“I said, ‘I respect the fact that you believe in small government. I do too. I also happen to know that you’re a person of faith. Now, when you die and get to the, get to the, uh, to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not gonna ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he’s going to ask you what you did for the poor. Better have a good answer.'”

Aw snap. Stuck between unbending ideology and existential terror. I suppose among their ilk “don’t be an asshole” isn’t a very compelling argument.

Meanwhile: NBC News is scratching its chin over whether Kasich is “too cranky to be president.” Harvey Wasserman wonders at Truthdig if Kasich will get an anti-environmental bump in a cynical play for it.

And Henry Gomez at Cleveland.com has Kasich power-ranked at No. 6 in the GOP Family Truckster, otherwise known as sitting bitch in the backseat. Gomez has this wisdom to share:

“Ohio’s governor could be posed for a breakout… But at the moment, Kasich’s path to victory relies a little too much on factors outside his control – such as a Jeb Bush implosion.”

The need for such an implosion, Gomez tells us in another article, is because “an emerging Kasich… appeals to the same establishment donors and center-right voters” as Bush.

This was an elaboration on the musings of the Washington Post‘s Robert Costa during CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday morning.

Costa recently witnessed Kasich joyfully pronouncing Nevada with the locally-preferred emphasis while there to court the favor of Willard Mitt Romney.

From Gomez:

“‘Keep an eye on Ohio Gov. John Kasich,’ Costa said. ‘I have never – you talk about wanting to run joyfully. I have never seen someone more comfortable out at that Romney retreat.

‘He was mingling with the press for an hour and a half,’ Costa continued. ‘This is someone, who if he like – runs, as we expect him to do so, is going to cut into Jeb from the center right, not from the hard right. That’s going to present more of a threat.’

Added Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin: ‘I agree that Kasich right now is the guy who could, if he launches well, can raise enough money and introduce himself to the country. … He can make this a four way race at the top tier with Walker and Rubio and Bush.’

Greased Lightning, Go Greased Lightning!

David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.