An ode to John Kasich

Let us praise the patient Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who on Tuesday night won his first GOP presidential primary state.

It also happened to be his home state, where a loss would have meant end times for his campaign — as it did for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who waved a teary goodbye until, perhaps, 2020.

But Kasich, jovial, relatively reasonable, relatively moderate Kasich (we’ll save his more radical ideas for a different day), is still here. Let us praise this brief spot of sanity in a Republican race characterized by pandering, slurs, and bodily comparisons. It’s been refreshing to see Kasich defend his Ohio record of practical health care decisions, taking care of homeless people,  drug addicts, and others in need.

Let us pause and consider Kasich’s first primary victory speech, delivered Tuesday night — perhaps his last. But a victory speech nonetheless, which was briefly interrupted by a protester.

Did he suggest bodily harm to the offender? Did he say, “get him outta here”? No. He stepped forward and attempted to calm the situation, only to return to the speech once the protester had been led away. And then he said, “You appreciate a good peaceful protest” when you went to college in the 1970s.

Let us praise a speech in which Kasich gave his version of New York values, in a strange but strangely lovable anecdote about going to credit rating agencies in New York after he became governor in the wake of the financial crisis, when Ohio’s economy was struggling. But Kasich said he told the agencies “You don’t understand Ohio,” whose people he knew would hang tough and come through. That’s making America great again.  

Let us praise a campaign that “labored in obscurity,” as Kasich said Tuesday night. A candidate who “will not take the low road to the highest office in the land,” as the governor has said before.

And yet it’s easy to travel the high road when you’re not threatening enough to draw potshots. Kasich still isn’t particularly threatening to Donald Trump, as his only path is an establishment-bestowed nomination at a brokered convention.
Tuesday night was his moment in the sun. But nice guys finish last.