Ohio Gov. John Kasich is not the Jon Huntsman of 2016. He is so much worse. Kasich is worse on nearly every issue than Huntsman has ever been. It’s actually rather insulting to Huntsman.
As soon as Kasich announced, we were treated to pieces like, “John Kasich has a Jon Huntsman problem,” from Salon, and “John Kasich and the Huntsman Trap,” from National Journal, “John Kasich: A Jeb Bush in Jon Huntsman Clothing,” from FiveThirtyEight, “John Kasich risks becoming the new Jon Hunstman,” from HotAir, and finally, “John Kasich enters race. Is he 2016’s Jon Huntsman?” from the The Christian Science Monitor.
Huntsman’s own daughter got on The Twitters to share that the “#Kasich roll-out reminds me so much of my dad’s four years ago. Same team, same timing, similar strategy. Hope it ends better for him.”
You’ll notice that each of the articles come from the angle that Kasich is too moderate (feel free to belly laugh, but yes, that’s what the national media is saying), or too willing to buck the Republican Party line, or too willing to talk bluntly to the GOP base to win its Presidential primary.
Some of these articles also point to the fact that Kasich has hired a variety of ex-Huntsman’12 staff, including Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, who played the same role for Huntsman, and doesn’t think much of these articles.
“Every campaign is different, every race is different—that’s pack journalism at its most glib and lazy,” Weaver told Bloomberg. “Governor Kasish is a conservative’s conservative. His conservative record, for many of these reporters who don’t seem to want to do any research, dates back to Congress when he took on welfare reform, led the effort to balance the budget, was a defense hawk,” etc. etc.
Holy Shiitake! Weaver and I are in absolute agreement. (Wanna grab coffee, Weavs? Holla atchur boy).
John Kasich is not Jon Huntsman.
Jon Huntsman is a well-mannered, nuanced, reasonable thinker, willing to engage his opponents in debate, willing to compromise, willing to accept scientific consensus, and to work with coalitions of interests to push the ball forward.
John Kasich is none of those things.
John Kasich is an arrogant, prickly, rude, and off-putting jerk, who childishly ignores those who oppose him when they are in the same room together, while refusing to debate publicly, berates those who challenge him, liberal and conservative alike, and favors superstition-based acquiescence in the face of a scientifically-proved threat to our very existence.
Jon Huntsman supports equal marriage rights. John Kasich does not. Jon Huntsman has come out clearly in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. John Kasich will not. Jon Huntsman signed agreements intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the problems of global warming. John Kasich gave Ohio the dubious distinction of being the first state in the nation to roll back its green energy portfolio.
And before any of you believe I’m praising Jon Huntsman too much, don’t worry, I’m no fan of his either. He supports undermining unions and worker safety and wages with “right-to-work” laws, and undermining public eduction with vouchers and charters, and regressive tax policies. On all those terrible ideas, Huntsman, Kasich, and the rest of the GOP can bond.
Notably, though, Kasich has had a tendency to one-up Huntsman on each of those issues as well. We all remember what Kasich thought of SB5 stripping away collective bargaining rights before Ohioans had to take to the ballot to knock him down. We’ve seen Kasich doesn’t just support charters taking resources away from public education, he’s overseen it being done corruptly, and he’s balanced his regressive taxes on the backs of the schools themselves, as well as local governments, police, and firefighters.
Now some on the far-right point to Kasich’s acceptance of Medicaid expansion as evidence that he’s a moderate. But let us remember that Kasich didn’t accept Medicaid because he believes, ethically, it is the responsibility of a developed country’s government to provide for the needs of the poor. He did it because he’s worried about what St. Peter will say to him at the Pearly Gates. His motivation was not to better our commonwealth, but to protect his own ass out of existential terror.
And though the real zealots in the fracking industry like to call him a RINO for his support for a modest severance tax increase, Kasich’s proposal came in well shy of the severance taxes in states like West Virginia, Alabama, and even Texas (Yes, Texas). As the rustic and wanna-be rustic GOPers like to say, that dog won’t hunt.
Interestingly, in 2012, Jon Hunstman dropped out of the race after coming in third in New Hampshire. Right now, John Kasich is polling at third in New Hampshire.
But in the end, again, I find myself agreeing with Weaver: Kasich is no moderate. Kasich is just as much a hack against the social safety net, a hack for big corp, big oil, and big pharmy, a hack for the military-industrial complex, and a hack for Wall Street as any other candidate on GOP ticket. I hate to see anyone try to deny him that.
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.