Gov. John R. Kasich

Gov. John R. Kasich

The Washington Post‘s staff conservative lackey Jennifer Rubin is sometimes useful for taking the temperature of the Republican Party establishment, and her column this week on how “John Kasich is the un-Trump” is a brilliant example.

The Donald Trump—who hashed out a fairly successful three-decade business career by being a Class-A knucklehead and blowhard—has been giving the conservative establishment the howling fantods as he helicopters around the Iowa State Fair in that stupid mismatching baseball cap, generally degrading the Republican Primary into everything that is twisted about American Reality Television.

How to respond? Whatever is an Establishment Grand Old Partier to do?

One easy thing is to have flunkeys like Jennifer Rubin type up big-and-slobberies to run in the national print sheets contrasting the “happy warrior persona” of John Kasich with the pouting-lipped grinch Trump. Kasich is not attacking Trump, Rubin posits, but he is rebutting his message by being so gosh-dern happy-go-lucky.

“If Trump and his acolytes thrive on negativity and anti-government fear-mongering, Kasich displays concern for the down-and-out,” Rubin writes, presumably typing without even the hint of a smile on her lips.

In Jennifer Rubin’s world of wine and roses, John Kasich has “moved ahead on gay marriage” by saying it’s “kind of off the table” even though he does in fact oppose equal rights and his Anglican pastor likes to compare LGBT activists to fascists and Nazis.

And on immigration, these days you’re a reasonable Republican if you’re somehow not stupid enough to think you can unilaterally and summarily overturn the Fourteenth Amendment.

“Kasich’s fiscal hawkishness and aversion to taxes are born of experience as head of the House Budget Committee and as governor,” Rubin writes, failing to acknowledge in any way that Kasich’s “aversion to taxes” does not extend lower than the top income tax bracket.

Us hoi polloi can go pound salt, as far as Kasich is concerned, because while his country club buddies enjoy their $5,000 tax cuts, income taxes in Ohio on the lowest bracket have gone up by as much as $300 annually.

I seem to remember Kasich this very year proposing another $2.5 billion increase in sales taxes, which are also regressive. It doesn’t get exhausting at all to have to point out over and over that it’s not tax cuting John Kasich believes in, it’s tax shifting, and onto the backs of those who can least afford it.

Rubin goes into full swoon as she relates Kasich’s hawkishness:

“Unlike Trump and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (whose poll numbers have collapsed), Kasich adopts a hawkish stance: ‘First of all, I would have supported the rebels in Syria that were in there to topple [President Bashar al-]Assad. Secondly, I would have a coalition of other countries, including us, on the ground beginning to degrade and destroy ISIS, because, as you begin to do it, that whole caliphate begins to fall apart, in my judgment. Thirdly, I want to praise Chuck Schumer to the high heaven. He may not like it, but I think he’s shown great courage on this deal with Iran.'”

Coalition building is the hardest thing to do in politics. One has to believe John Kasich knows this because throughout his time as governor the only coalition-building he’s been able to inspire has been against him and his efforts at dismantling collective bargaining.

The Obama Administration just made a deal, at long last, with Turkey, to help fight Daesh (ISIS). And what did Turkey do? They bombed Daesh three times, and then they bombed the Kurds 300 times. The poor, damn heroic Kurds are our only true friends in the region and they’re being attacked on all sides, even by the country we just formed an alliance with.

But John Kasich, with a magical wand or something, apparently will be able to not only form a great international coalition to “degrade and destroy” Daesh, but he will do it while sticking his thumb in the eye of Iran and Russsia, who are also fighting Daesh and would seem to be a fairly important piece in having any success against Daesh in Syria. Oh and he’ll also topple Assad. And he’ll probably even “Bring Democracy to the Middle East.” Sound familiar? That’ll be a neat trick, John. Wingardium Leviosa!

Kasich may emerge as one in a triumvirate of plausible nominees (along with Bush and Rubio), who when the Trump smoke clears will remain in the top tier. Kasich is arguably more experienced than the other two, with 18 years in the House and 4½ years as governor. His blue-collar, pugnacious profile certainly would contrast with Hillary Clinton. Is he too liberal for the GOP? Well, if Trump can support a bevy of liberal positions and Mitt Romney won the nomination with Romneycare, Kasich should be able to overcome his apostasy on Medicaid. If he remains in the top debate group next month, he’ll have the opportunity to keep his momentum going.

This is where Rubin is useful. If Romney can get past Romneycare during the last cycle, and McCain can get past his immigration plans the cycle before that, Kasich actually probably should be able to overcome his Medicaid expansion. It would be too much to believe that alone will keep the establishment from rallying to him if necessary when they need it. It looks as though the Republican Establishment is now aligning behind this triumvirate (Rubin should know), and Kasich is still the small fish among them. But that’s scary enough.

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 He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.