It should have been a layup, but I found myself disappointed at the flippant way the Republican candidates talked about faith during Thursday night’s GOP primary debate. And, arguably the worst was Ohio Gov. John Kasich — a man who frequently talks about his faith.
A couple of caveats: First, I think Kasich was one of the “winners” in Thursday night’s debate. Second, although I think that talking about faith is perfectly legitimate, I didn’t like how the candidate all essentially felt compelled to commingle the City of God with the City of Man (think of Marco Rubio’s joke about God loving the Republican Party by blessing them with so many good candidates, while the Democrats only have Hillary — or Ted Cruz’s co-opting of “you shall know them by their fruit” and turning it into a litmus test for ideological purity).
Having said that, I found Kasich’s answer to the God question to be perhaps the most revealing — and what it revealed was perhaps self-centeredness. Here’s the transcript:
KASICH: Well, Megyn, my father was a mailman. His father was a coal miner. My mother’s mother could barely speak English. And their son today stands on this podium in the great state of Ohio not only as the governor, but a candidate for president of the United States. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) KASICH: I do believe in miracles. You know, I’ve had a lot of elections. But my elections are really not about campaigns. I tell my people that these are about a movement. And a movement to do what? To restore common sense. A movement to do things like provide economic growth. And a movement not to let anybody be behind.
Huh? It seemed like a non sequitur. It seemed to betray a certain self-centeredness. Why would a question about God (specifically, whether “any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first”) lead him to discuss his hardscrabble beginnings? He went on to talk about other stuff; you can read the rest here.
Again, Kasich wasn’t the only candidate that felt compelled to take what might have been an interesting moment of witness and personal reflection, and tarnish it with partisan politics. But it seemed especially discordant to me. At best, this was a missed opportunity; at worst, it told us something about Kasich.