Kurt Vonnegut wrote a short story titled “The Euphio Question” in which a fictional Dr. Fred Bockman, a physicist, had picked up a strange hiss from a void in the Universe with a radio telescope. As he amplified it for friends with a contraption he called a euphoriaphone, everyone within hearing range became uncontrollably happy. When a friend tried to explain it later, he described the mysterious sound as “the voice of nothingness”.
I thought of Bockman’s device as I watched Gov. Kasich’s announcement of his presidential candidacy, which had become a cliche for months as he travelled the land as Johnny Appleseed on his political mission. As he promised, God-and-Hemingway-like, that the sun would rise when he became president, a carefully selected group of young people in the OSU Student Union deliriously waved Kasich signs on cue. If anything, the governor has proven that he has a gift for theatrics – from blue collar kid to, um…the most experienced candidate in the field.
The national media ate it up. Many pundits have seen him as the alternative to the wretched group in what is now the Unsweet 16 of GOP candidates.
Still, there were so many things in his coming-out speech that could be easily questioned or altogether refuted. And we’ll leave it up to you to decide the honesty of his words when he said he would not be running a political campaign. But I cringed when he praised the very policemen whose unions he wanted to restrict with SB5 and eventually was voted down by more than a million votes when it reached the ballot.
From the early days of his arrival in the governor’s office he has managed to offend cops. by calling one of them an idiot; he lost the support of the Koch brothers by slamming a wealthy Republican woman at a Koch event; he spoke wildly of wanting everybody to have a job and expressed remorse over those who are out of work – the same fellow who opposed the auto bailout, Obamacare and the stimulus and has presided over a state that has trailed many other in providing jobs; he boasted about balancing the budget while forcing cities to make do on less; he threatened universities with wielding his own axe if they didn’t trim already hacked expenses. As far as his attitude toward women’s rights, don’t ask. One ranking political official told me that he spent an hour with the governor and Lt. Gov Mary Taylor as a his accessory in the room. “She didn’t say a word,” he recalled.
And , as the Plain Dealer reported, he slumped in his chair and refused to acknowledge his tattered and torn Democratic opponent when they appeared in a sit-down with the editors. Rough-edged, he’s never a breath away from hubris.
Much of this is certain to be explored now that he has officially climbed into the race with 2 pct. approval. And who knows,, maybe fast talking cable guys like Chris Matthews, who keeps saying good things about Kasich, may decide to start asking harder questions and reveal the darker side even as the sun also rises.