Time For A Second Look At John Kasich?

J. G. Collins Managing Director, Stuyvesant Square Consultancy
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John Kasich, the Ohio governor who’s struggling with other candidates to get recognized in the chorus of the ubiquitous Donald Trump Show, probably ought to re-think his new “America: Never Give Up.” ad campaign.

It rather begs the question that the “Jeb can fix it” campaign that fellow chorus member Jeb Bush faced: “Fix what, Jeb? Your campaign?”

But before the wise-guy wags urge Kasich to “Never Give Up” his campaign, thoughtful voters might want to give him a long, hard look, particularly, given the media coverage – or lack of it — he’s endured.  

A December 24 CNN/ORC poll showed that 47 percent of voters – nearly half — had either never heard of Kasich or had no opinion about him, the highest of any candidate polled.

I’m on record as having said that Kasich won the “Bank of America” exchange with Ted Cruz in the last debate, where Cruz said he would “absolutely not” intervene to stop the collapse of a Big Four international bank. That’s because Kasich was right: a president would need to ensure that depositors – not banks themselves – are saved so that they aren’t left penniless (and to avoid runs on other banks by fearful depositors that would collapse the financial system.)

But days after the debate Rush Limbaugh and other right-leaning commentators were repeating the meme that Kasich had said he would “bail out the banks.” The debate transcript shows otherwise.

On Monday night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said this to Marco Rubio:

…  outside of Lindsey Graham you have been the most hawkish against ISIS. I mean you are in line with my thinking that you can’t contain evil. You have to destroy it. But the way to do it is to take the burden and distribute it among the NATO nations using Article 5. That’s the way to do it.  [Emphasis added.]

But Governor Kasich – who served 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee — had said the same thing and is at least as hawkish as Rubio, probably even more so.

In February, 2015, before he even entered the 2016 presidential scrum, and well before the Paris and San Bernadino attacks, Kasich told the Washington Post:

“You will not solve this problem with only air power … there needs to be a coalition of NATO, Arab states, and ultimately some boots on the ground to stop the advancement of (ISIS).”

Less than a month ago, Kasich reiterated his comments at the Council on Foreign Relations and outlined a comprehensive plan for an alliance to defeat ISIS militarily, politically and ideologically:

“Instead of signaling that we will not become more deeply involved, as President Obama has done, we must stand ready to support France, as I have called for initially, to invoke Article 5, the mutual defense clause of NATO, which would bring us together to help our ally, France … (t)he longer we wait, the more difficult it will be…”

Others in right-leaning media have conveniently overlooked Kasich’s quiet – but very effective — advance of his pro-life position as Ohio governor. And he’s been painted as a veritable Republican apostate because he expanded Medicaid in Ohio, even though Tea Party and conservative Republican governors have either tactically reversed course or are reconsidering their previous “irreversible opposition” to the program. Several are now quietly re-thinking their opposition and finding ways to fund Medicaid expansion so that their states won’t lose primary care physicians and hospitals in underserved rural areas.  

Fox’s focus on all things Trump – including a New Year’s Eve “glam shot” of the candidate and his family just moments before the Times Square ball dropped — can be forgiven a network which, like the others, has seen ratings shoot up courtesy of “The Donald” and his unorthodox presidential campaign.

But right-leaning media’s misrepresentation – or neglect – of arguably the Republican party’s most accomplished, most well-vetted, candidate – and the one who is overwhelmingly popular in the party’s “must win” swing state of Ohio — just to garner ratings and page views about the antics of a reality TV star is a grave disservice to voters and, ultimately, the country.