John Kasich Will Run in 2020–His Mouth, That Is

One would have to be a king-sized fool to think he’ll actually do it.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, appearing alongside former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as he mulls a primary challenge to President Donald Trump, said Wednesday that the Republican Party has “never been my master” and that “all of my options are on the table” for 2020.

Speaking at an event promoting a nascent group of moderate Republicans in heavily Democratic California, Kasich said the GOP should cast itself in a more moderate, compromising mold.

The former presidential candidate yoked himself to the legacy of President Ronald Reagan, who “compromised with [former Democratic House Speaker] Tip O’Neill on saving Social Security” and “was very welcoming to immigrants.” Kasich said. “The Republican Party is my vehicle. It’s never been my master.”

He added, “And it’s my job to lead the party.”

Asked if he was ruling out running against Trump as an independent, Kasich, who could also challenge the president in the Republican primary, told reporters, “All of my options are on the table. But I’m a Republican, I’m a conservative, and I just want to add to the public debate and do a good job.”

“I’m not ruling anything in or out,” he said.

Bull. Kasich running for the Presidency as a Republican or an Independent in 2020? I have a better chance of being struck by lightning, winning Powerball, or getting married to Jennifer Lawrence.

Kasich has no real political constituency whatsoever. The faux-moderate Ohio Governor is an army of one, and were he run for the Presidency in 2020, he’d be a catastrophic failure. Right-wingers want Trump’s fire, fury, venom and vulgarity. Progressives want someone who will bring about, as Bernie Sanders put it two years ago, a political revolution. There’s no middle anymore. Those who used to consider themselves “moderate Republicans” have either settled their grievances with the Democratic Party, or conceded to the covfefe in the name of tax cuts.

Kasich’s appeal is limited to cable-news hosts and newspaper reporters and editorial-page editors who do not want to openly acknowledge that the Republican Party is unhinged from top to bottom. Like Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, Kasich fills a media niche: the well-dressed, neat and clean Republican you can bring over for dinner. The Fourth Estate figures who shamelessly promote Kasich never acknowledge his radical ideology and the harm he has inflicted upon the disadvantaged in Ohio. He is perhaps the phoniest individual in modern American politics—and it’s not like he doesn’t have strong competition in that regard.

Those who comprise Kasich’s media fan club apparently think he’s the second coming of Rep. John Anderson, the late Illinois Republican who ran for the White House as an independent in 1980 and became a hero to folks who disliked both Ronald Reagan and then-President Jimmy Carter. Of course, Anderson only earned 6.6 percent of the vote on Election Day. If Kasich were to run, he wouldn’t even get half that much.

When mainstream-media entities promote Kasich as a “reasonable Republican,” they’re perpetrating a fraud. In 2018, “reasonable Republican” is a contradiction in terms, not unlike “living corpse” “or “pro-diversity bigot.” The constant shoving of Kasich down the throats of cable-news viewers and major-newspaper readers for the purposes of false balance is among the most obnoxious trends in modern American media. If Kasich announces that he’s not running in 2020, maybe this particular trend will finally stop.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.