An editorial in The New York Times today expresses anguish at the GOP establishment's decision to freeze out that nice John Kasich:
At a televised Republican town hall on Tuesday, it was painful to watch farmers, students and a man whose son died of a drug overdose pose earnest questions to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, who were more interested in attacking each other. Only John Kasich connected with these voters.
Despite its noble aim and big budget, “Never Trump” has become a panicky reaction in search of a strategy. In Wisconsin, “Never Trump” means “How About Cruz?” ... But for the state’s -- and the nation’s -- moderate conservatives, “Never Trump” should more logically mean “Maybe Kasich.”
... In some coming states and districts, voter data indicates that Mr. Kasich, not the ultraconservative, evangelical Mr. Cruz, could be more competitive. Yet there’s been no real effort by “Never Trump” leaders on Mr. Kasich’s behalf.
... This is happening even though the numbers are there to deprive Mr. Trump of the nomination without delivering it to Mr. Cruz on a platter, says Henry Olsen, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington. “If your goal is ‘Never Trump,’ you should put your bets on the best candidate depending on the delegate allocation rules and the demographics of the state,” he says.
... Some conservative leaders see Mr. Cruz as their best chance for maintaining their influence and are thus reluctant to work for Mr. Kasich.... Others worry that Mr. Kasich’s views on the poor, Muslims and immigrants place him too far from the right to win in a brokered convention.
But in a year when cruelty and exclusion stand as hallmarks of conservatism, “It would be courageous to stand up and say that Kasich is a different kind of conservative,” who doesn’t see government, or foreigners, as enemies, Mr. Olsen says. “These voters exist, and there’s a lot of them.”
A brokered convention seems increasingly likely for the GOP. If it happens, we don't know what the party establishment's true plans are, and we don't know whether the establishment has the savvy (or low cunning) to execute those plans. It's entirely possible that the establishment thinks it can pull off a bait and switch -- back Cruz, then nominate Kasich on the third or fourth or eighth or twentieth ballot. And before that, there might be a sudden pro-Kasich shift on the establishment's part later this month, when the primaries head east.
Whatever the case, if there's a move toward Kasich, it's clear that there'd be great joy at a newspaper that's supposed to be dogmatically liberal.
This is for a couple of reasons. First, the media feels it has a responsibility to save the Republican Party from itself. I'm not completely resistant to the idea that we need two responsible political parties hashing out the issues of the day -- but the press apparently feels obliged to clean up the mess if one of the parties is on a sustained bender, attacking people and trashing things. Ultimately, this leads to the press blaming itself for the fact that Republican voters admire Donald Trump and want to watch and read about him before enthusiastically voting for him. In reality, that's the voters' fault, not the fault of the press -- the rest of us aren't falling for Trump's nonsense, despite saturation coverage. But the press feels guilty, as if Trump was forced on racist, know-nothing rageoholics.
Beyond that, the press wants a Republican to admire. Barack Obama hasn't been a reassuring daddy; Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders certainly won't play that role. Trump and Cruz are scary -- but Kasich is so nice.
Um, no, he isn't:
Since becoming governor in 2011, Kasich has signed every anti-abortion measure placed before him -- 17 so far. He signed a bill that severely limits abortion access after 20 weeks and approved a ban on state-funded rape-crisis counselors’ referring clients to abortion services or even informing them of their right to end their pregnancy, even though he claims to support a rape exception. He signed a requirement that patients have (and pay for) an unnecessary ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat and be asked whether they want to listen to it (after they’re read a mandatory script written by anti-choice state legislators).... In February, he signed a bill depriving Planned Parenthood of $1.3 million in state and federal funding, including funds for a program to curb infant mortality. Pro-life!
The most important anti-choice measure Kasich signed, though, was one quietly included in the 2013 state budget requiring abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. Transfer agreements serve no legitimate purpose, since any hospital has to see patients on an emergency basis -- and such emergencies are extremely rare in the case of abortion anyway.... the point is to make abortion practice impossible: Catholic hospitals won’t enter into such an arrangement, and public hospitals are legally barred from doing so. This seemingly innocuous requirement, supposedly to preserve women’s health and safety, has resulted in the closing of half the clinics in Ohio.
Kasich would cut the top tax rate to 28 percent from its current 39.6 percent rate. He would cut the capital gains tax rate from 25 percent to 15 percent, cut the estate tax rate from 40 percent to zero, cut the business tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and allow businesses to immediately write off the full cost of all investments -- a tax cut for the rich of a scale never before seen in American history.
In March of 2011, only a few months after being elected governor, Kasich signed Senate Bill 5 into law. SB 5 prohibited public sector unions from negotiating wages, eliminated automatic pay increases and banned strikes. It also made it more difficult for public sector unions to collect membership dues....
SB 5’s passage triggered an immediate organizing effort to put it on the November ballot for possible repeal....
The bill was defeated by a 61-39 margin, with even a large subset of Republicans in the state agreeing that Kasich’s union busting efforts had gone too far.
And yet it's clear that a lot of people in the mushy middle are bamboozled by Kasich's baby talk. He's beaten Hillary Clinton head to head in the last ten polls, by an average of 6.2 points. In deep-blue New York, according to Quinnipiac, Clinton beats Cruz by 21, Trump by 20 -- and Kasich by only 5. That's because the press is buying his nice-guy act and selling it to the voters.
We know the Times editorial page will endorse Clinton, even if Kasich is her opponent. But before that happens, he's likely to get very favorable coverage in the Times if he's the nominee. He would be the odds-on favorite to win in November, with the MSM's help. Let's hope the GOP never figures out a way to make that happen.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog