Fifty dollars buys a copy of “Two Paths: America Divided Or United” and $150 buys a copy signed by the book’s author, Ohio’s 69th governor and traveling national chaplain, John Kasich, who by many accounts is spending more time at his second full-time job, hawking his book of memoirs about his lopsided defeat in last year’s Republican race for president, than his first full-time job Ohioans elected him to do, governor.
An email to his fan base Saturday says Mr. Kasich’s message about strengthening and healing divisions in communities in Ohio and across the nation is resonating. How rich and ironic is that? For those unaware of politics in the Buckeye State of late, the current state of the state after six years of this governor’s leadership has a gaping budget hole of $800 million, made possible in large part by $5-plus billion in income tax cut giveaways that primarily benefit the wealthiest, that a GOP-dominated legislature will fill how they see fit, which entails dismembering the executive budget right before the CEO’s eyes.
The ironic aspect is that each of the governor’s biennial budgets has been the largest in state history, by whopping amounts, which is a pretty nifty trick to pull off for a so-called fiscal conservative like the soon to be 65-year old leader, whose political power has been whittled down small enough that it can be drowned in the bathtub.
The latest sign of how Ohio’s governor and traveling national chaplain is parting ways with his once friendly legislature comes with news that a second attempt is underway to terminate Ohio’s participation in expanded Medicaid, an policy decision Gov. Kasich had to end-run the legislature to accomplish. Kasich has used his acceptance of expanded Medicaid as his lone shield to defend himself from being lumped in with other Republican governor’s who declined to participate in the largely federally funded health care system for low-income people. John Kasich’s wields a flaccid veto pen because it can be overridden with ease by motivated House and Senate Republican Majority Caucuses, who appear more inclined to put 700,000-plus Buckeyes poor enough to qualify for the federal-state program for the poor in sight of no longer have affordable health care insurance.
One report on what awaits the governor is that House Republicans no longer afraid of the governor’s power or influence and will move to end Kasich’s acceptance of Medicaid expansion. The Columbus Dispatch reports a proposed amendment to Kasich’s last budget as governor would permit current program participants to keep their coverage, while anyone who could qualify now but whose employment circumstances could change would be banned from eligibility.
Buyers of “Two Paths” are told that book-sales dollars will “go directly into helping tell not only the story about the work he’s [Kasich] doing to strengthen Ohio, but also provide a hopeful and more inclusive path forward for our country.” If the governor and his loyalists think the Kasich Administration has strengthened Ohio, they might want to look at undisputed metrics that show how unstrong Ohio is today compared to where it was before Kasich came to power, made possible only with the help of Tea Party enthusiasm that he soon cut loose after crossing the finish line in 2010 like a paratrooper cuts loose a parachute after landing safely.
Second, they might ask themselves why, if the governor’s message is resonating so well across the national landscape, his name is no where to be found on Time Magazine’s 2017 list of 100 Most Influential People?
Gov. Kasich can also thank his fortunes to the fact that the Ohio Constitution does not contain a recall provisions for statewide offices. Had it enabled citizens to take a second look at people they once installed in office, the petulant leader would likely have undergone a recall election following his support of SB 5 in 2011, just like what Wisconsin voters did to their Gov. Scott Walker. While Mr. Walker survived, the same wasn’t guaranteed for John Kasich in light of just how unpopular he was at the time.
John Kasich foresees the day when he will off the political radar screen after term limits put him out to pasture. After eight years messing up Ohio so much that its fallen from fifth to 22nd in education, routinely spends billions on virtually worthless for-profit charter schools, and has entered its 52 straight month of subpar national job growth, a change from Kasich’s austerity for you but not me plan could be the lifeline Democrats are searching for if they want to win statewide office seats ever again.
Boasting of his out-of-state appearances on The Daily Show, The Charlie Rose Show, Fox & Friends, Fox Business, Morning Joe, CBS This Morning and The View, it’s little wonder that many might conclude that being governor isn’t the full-time job its cracked up to be, given Gov. Kasich’s use of it to step up to higher office somewhere else.
The Catholic boy who adopted Ohio as his home state instead of his native Pennsylvania, dismisses any criticism that he can’t be both governor and national chaplain and book seller. “I think I helped Ohio when I ran for president. People are proud of Ohio. They learned a lot about Ohio,” Kasich said, the Columbus Dispatch reported. “The message that I have I think is a very good message and a very positive message for the country. And I don’t think it should be just confined to the state of Ohio.”
One tiny budget cut in the House’s version of Kasich’s proposed $67 billion budget that ‘s received no scrutiny or comment is the elimination of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger said it’s run its course. Gov. Kasich, by example, has made a compelling argument to modernize the constitutional so it prohibits an elected official to run for another and maybe higher office like president without resigning the job voters hired the candidate to do. Kasich evaded questions about running for president in 2016, but students of his political motivations know he’s sought another opportunity, following his first loss on the road to the White House in 2000, to jump into the race again, and being governor of a linchpin state like Ohio was his ticket to ride the ego train again.
Gov. Kasich’s ambitious ego directs him to stay relevant in the cacophony of dystopian political discourse that’s fallen on the nation in the era of Donald Trump. The shroud of darkness that’s fallen over how many millions the governor has bilked taxpayers for to fund his post-nuptials can’t be penetrated, even with requests for public records, that meet resistance from the Office of Governor. The time John Kasich has spent promoting himself out of out of state, looking for an afterlife to his disastrous years as state leader, is an abuse of the executive branch and a personal embarrassment for Mr. Kasich himself. When he was going from one state loss to another last year, he joked that if he didn’t resonate with America he just might retire to his rural Westerville home and rock away the time on his back porch.
Gov. Kasich doesn’t rock with most people the way he thinks he does, and last year’s returns show that. But if he wants to rock on his own and time, using his own money for a change, that’s an idea worth pursuing. If you choose the path of least resistance, and lead a life smaller than you’ve lived so far, people might unite around you as you want them to do.