Party animal that I am, my Saturday night was spent listening to the Democratic Presidential debate while reading history on the friendship between Henry Adams and John Hay. Born to be wild.
My reading put me in the mind of statesmanship, and U.S. history, and I noted that the three Democrats on stage all displayed substantially thicker Presidential timber than anything offered by the termite-infested woodcraft on the GOP stage.
Sometime around mid-summer, I decided that if anything remained of the Republican Party’s collective brain after 35 years of deformation by obvious parasitic infection, they might do well to select Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as their nominee.
Rubio is young, polished, reasonably articulate, and slick enough a salesman not to slip too often into slimy. Plus he’s the only GOP candidate who would stand a chance to save Republicans the loss of Texas from the rising Latino demographic.
Of course, by dint of his proposals, rhetoric, and history, Rubio is no less batshit crazy and destructive than any of the others in the GOP primary. He would make a phenomenally awful U.S. President and I would truly fear for the future if he were to be elected. But it is precisely the destructive and stupid nature of his proposals that allows me easy rest when I contemplate him in a general election.
Nevertheless, according to the Associated Press, “Democratic insiders” seem to have sized up the competition similarly.
The Associated Press contacted all 712 superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention next summer, and asked them which Republican they thought would be their party’s strongest opponent in the general election.
Offering a window into how the Democratic establishment is sizing up the competition, most superdelegates declined to name a candidate, expressing bewilderment at a Republican field in which billionaire Trump and retired neurosurgeon Carson are leading in polls while Jeb Bush, the son and brother of presidents, struggles.
Of the 176 superdelegates who answered the question, 65 said Rubio, the first-term senator from Florida, would be the Democrats’ strongest opponent.
“Rubio speaks well and he could generate appeal among Latino voters,” said Chris Wicker, vice chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party, referring to Rubio’s background as a Cuban-American raised by working-class parents. “He doesn’t say some of the crazy stuff that the other leaders have said.”
The other candidates, along with the number of Democratic insiders who said they would be the strongest opponent:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich: 45.
Holy Shiitake. Ex-squeeze me? Ohio Gov. John Kasich at No. 2?
More from the AP:
Some Democrats described Kasich as the “adult” in the field who could campaign from the center and win his home state, a key battleground. The last candidate to win the White House without Ohio was Democrat John F. Kennedy in 1960.
“A Democratic nightmare would begin and end with a Rubio-Kasich ticket,” said former state Rep. Boyd Brown of South Carolina.
Kasich wants to play the “adult in the field” but his natural arrogant, rude, prickly self keeping getting in the way. His constant interruptions at the last debate—mouth ever-twitching into frown—came off as churlish, not Father Knows Best.
As for nightmares, Kasich certainly has been one in his time as governor, which renders his “campaign from the center” fairly preposterous.
Since January 2011, Kasich has tried to strong-arm public employees out of their collective bargaining rights, cut $1.86 billion from local governments and public schools, raising local taxes and costing thousands of public workers, police, firefighters, and teachers their jobs.
He has signed onto cuts to addiction treatment in the middle of a heroin crisis. He’s privatized prisons with disastrous results. He’s privatized the state department of development and rendered it a shadowy cesspool for insider cronyism. He’s given income tax kickbacks to friends at the top who don’t need it while hiking regressive taxes on those who can’t afford it.
He rolled back Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio and disemboweled the state’s efforts to set itself up for a new green manufacturing boon. And he unraveled a constitutional education funding model that used evidence to prescribe best practices in favor of an incoherent, unconstitutional one that robs the wallets of most school districts while funneling even more cash to those already well-off, and funding a charter school system that is the laughingstock of the nation.
A nightmare indeed, for us living in Ohio. But he’s not a nightmare electorally for any Democrat running for president.
At some point, he would have to account for his atrocious anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-education, anti-renewable energy record. He would have to account for his ties to ALEC and his work doing the bidding of the Brothers Koch. He would have to account for his time working for Wall Street while swindling everyday Americans into a Great Recession, destroying pensions and foreclosing homes.
And when challenged on this record, Kasich won’t be able to ignore the other candidate in the room like a petulant child.
Kasich-Rubio, Rubio-Kasich, I’ve heard this push for months. Even William F. Buckley’s old hateful rag the National Review got in on that action back in August.
And Yale Law heavy Paul W. Kahn made the point in HuffPo. Kahn noted that Rubio and Kasich represent the battlegrounds of Florida and Ohio. Kahn’s counterproposal for Democrats is one (alas?) not-to-be: A Biden-Warren ticket.
But no matter what the Democratic ticket ends up becoming, if the Republican Party is able to tame their zealots enough to make a Rubio-Kasich offering (and I’m dubious that they are), I have every confidence my dreams will remain quite pleasant.
One’s an ruffled suit, pockmarked by the reality of his record. The other’s an empty suit, condemned by the record of reality.
A Rubio-Kasich ticket wouldn’t be a nightmare for Democrats. It would be a shining opportunity to show that even the “reasonable” Republicans on offer are awful in every way. Bring ’em on.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.