As Ohio Gov. John Kasich greases up for a one-hour CNN Town Hall event at 10 p.m. next Monday evening, I think of Dr. Israel Shahak, to whom we shall return momentarily.

Kasich is out to promote his new book, “Two Paths, America Divided or United.”


In addition to talking about the book, Kasich intends to give his take on primary rival Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president, offer his reflections on the presidential campaign, and discuss his hopes for the future, the CNN release stated.

Kasich has repeatedly waved off suggestions about running for president in 2020, though he said last month that he wouldn’t “close the door on anything.” The governor raised eyebrows when he scheduled a book tour appearance in New Hampshire on April 27, which would make him the first major Republican to visit the key primary state since the 2016 election.

Kasich is a fan of “town-hall”-style meetings – he held more than 100 of them in New Hampshire ahead of last year’s GOP presidential primary, where he finished second to Trump.

Kasich may wave off suggestions about running for president in 2020 as much as he likes, but his ambition is as naked as Michelangelo’s David.

And frankly, I’m looking forward to it. Whenever an incumbent president has faced a primary threat (Ford by Reagan in ’76 and Carter by T. Kennedy in ’80), he’s won the primary and gone on to lose the general.

So what’s not to like here? If the pattern plays out, Kasich would suffer yet another ignominious defeat at the (small) hands of Donald Trump, and then a Democrat would win that November.

What I find more intriguing is this new book of Kasich’s, “Two Paths, America Divided or United.” I anticipate this little tome shall provide me many moments of fantastic amusement by the pool this summer whenever I get around to reading it. And it’s also what puts me in mind of Dr. Shahak.

Dr. Shahak served for many years as chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights. He grew up in pre-1940 Poland and obviously survived through periods of tremendous conflict and difficulty.

Christopher Hitchens liked to tell this anecdote of Dr. Shahak: “On some occasions when I have asked him for his impression of events, he has calmly and deliberately replied: There are some encouraging signs of polarization.‘”

Hitchens further observed: “A long and risky life has persuaded him that only an open conflict of ideas and principles can produce any clarity. Conflict may be painful, but the painless solution does not exist in any case and the pursuit of it leads to the painful outcome of mindlessness and pointlessness; the apotheosis of the ostrich.”

Kasich has been hawking his kumbayah schtick for some time now, and I’ll do him the favor of granting that he may even believe it.

As a political calculus, Kasich is seeking to hijack the Obama refrain about there being no red states of America or blue states of America but only the United States of America.

It’s a line that works, especially among the “can’t we all just get along” crowd. But even though it works politically, it’s also ahistorical and, well, pretty damned naïve. Bitter division has been a hallmark of politics in every human civilization ever recorded and an American pastime since Hamilton and Jefferson were getting their knickerbockers in knots.

President Obama pulled it off rhetorically because he exudes the cool confidence and charm of a Henry Gondorff, but Kasich’s version of it is hopeless. Kasich has the charm and bonhomie of an inflamed hemorrhoid and he comes off as all whine and cheese.

And besides, it’s insanely disingenuous of Kasich to pretend to be a uniter. As progressives and Democrats in Ohio know very well, nothing in our governor’s policy approach has sought consensus and unity. He’s forced his Koch-written, supply-side, anti-worker agenda upon all of us without regard.

So now, if he desires to live out Hitchens’ “apotheosis of the ostrich,” mindless and pointless, I’m game to watch. Pass the popcorn.

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 He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.