Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel

As many of us look on in horror at the burlesque President-elect Donald Trump is planning to make of our national government, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s reptilian political brain has slithered forth, sniffing with forked tongue a new opportunity for personal advancement – a new persona to emulate.

From The Hill:

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) is looking to replicate Donald Trump‘s campaign strategy, hoping to reap the benefits of the president-elect’s success in his second Senate bid.

Mandel is looking to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in 2018, taking advantage of a midterm electorate that leans more Republican.

Mandel announced his bid on Wednesday in a style straight out of the Trump playbook, including with familiar slogans like “rigged system” and “drain the swamp.” He leaned heavily into Trump campaign themes of improving the middle class and decreasing the influence of lobbyists and special interests.

“Most people think Washington is broken, but really it’s just a rigged system,” Mandel said in the video. “The politicians and their cronies get rich while the middle class struggles.”

One may be forgiven for being unsure which iteration of “Josh Mandel” us Buckeyes are presently enjoying, having seen so many through his short career thus far.

He launched himself into our General Assembly in the vein of a G.W. Bush-era neoconservative, sallied into state office on the Tea Party train (complete with false accusation, religio race-baiting), and fell on his face miserably in his last bid against Brown in 2012 as a toady for Karl Rove’s much larger-scale failure, Crossroads GPS.

Suffice it to say, when opportunity strikes to transmogrify his political persona according to contemporary tastes, Mandel can be counted upon to shamelessly abide.

If the aphorism is true that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Mandel is a veritable Polonius. Come to think of it, many descriptive adjectives for the bard’s consummate flatterer may well apply to Mandel, just as well as his latest beau ideal, our man Trump: Cynical, self-centred, devious, shrewd, immoral, arrogant, vain, hypocritical, manipulative, insincere, self-absorbed. One could go on and on.

But I digress. I’ve set forth to make a slightly grander point than to enumerate their many faults in character. You see, when a bad precedent is set in public leadership, the sad tendency is for it to be followed into the dark, consuming void. Alas, this is well illustrated by what we are now promised to have the opportunity to witness here in Ohio.

I truly believe Mandel has found his voice in his imitation of Trump: A total aversion to empirical, fact-based reality; a simultaneously callous and craven political posture; an enthusiastic indulgence of the worst instincts of the human character; a relentless appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Natch, Mandel will be counting on the present Trumpean fashion to hold steady into the 2018 election cycle, when he will be tasked with deploying his newfound faux-populist rhetoric against Sherrod Brown, who has the mild advantage of having actually spent his entire career giving a shit about and advocating for the very working people Mandel seems to have just discovered as a political constituency.

Of course, if Trump fails spectacularly and becomes persona non grata, I suspect Mandel will find a way to shift gears with ease, becoming in character someone or something else entirely.

“This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man,” Polonius advised his hapless progeny Laertes.

Our dear Shakespeare had no want for irony. For if a man has no true self beyond always fitting his disposition to his surroundings, he may always be true to himself by being true to whatever he thinks others wish him to be. It’s a neat trick, reliant as it is on the countenance of fools.

D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive’s RouteFifty.com, the National Journal’s The 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.