Sunday, April 24, 2016

What's John Kasich Up To?

by JASmius

I'm assuming that "#thingsjohnkasichknows" includes what his master plan is for his continued pointless presidential candidacy.

I had my suspicions five weeks ago:

[I]t is very likely that neither Trump nor Cruz arrive in Cleveland with the magic number of 1,237. Trump would very much like to reach that magic number before Cleveland to head off any "robbery" attempts....and keeping the anti-Trump opposition as divided as possible - even at two, down from the sixteen of last summer - is the most effective way of doing so.

I wonder what Trump has promised Kasich for screwing Cruz? Treasury or Commerce segretario? Has to be something sufficiently lucrative to make it worth the John Huntsman of 2016's while. What other explanation for this could there be? Kasich can't win the nomination and he never could. If he was a loyal Republican alarmed at Trump's hostile takeover, he'd have joined Marco Rubio in quitting the race (arguably a long time ago). Even if winning his home State infused him with delusional confidence, he could target on which States (i.e. "blue" ones) to focus, in the hopes of holding down Trump's totals there while Cruz ran off victories in the remaining "red" States. Not a particularly hopeful strategy given what happened in the "SEC primary," but it would have been better than nothing.

Ditto Kasich bailing on the now-canceled next GOP debate next Monday:

A Twitter buddy reminded me last night that Kasich’s decision to pass on the Fox News debate on Monday night because Trump wouldn’t be there is inexplicable if he’s actually trying to win. Even without Trump in the room, he and Cruz could share a big platform for two hours, politely disagreeing with each other as needed and spending most of their time lambasting Trump for his various policy and political offenses. There’s no way to explain why a badly trailing candidate fresh off a big win who’s otherwise been an afterthought in the race would deny himself a stage — unless he’s not really trying to win. If Kasich is already planning to sell out to Trump then skipping the debate is logical.... [emphasis added]

Instead, as I wrote of him nine months ago when he announced his dubious candidacy, "Kasich wants to flip off conservatives with even more fingers and gusto than [John] Weaver." And Trump has given him a bigger opportunity to do that than of which the Ohioan ever dreamed.

Thus, like Eve was tempted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, have a depressingly growing number of Republicans been corrupted into committing political and ideological suicide. Although for John Kasich it really isn't much of a stretch.

Soon after those keystrokes came the Ohio governor's disavowal of ever teaming up with The Donald, and the theory arose that Kasich's strategy might be to hang around in the hopes that a deadlocked convention in Cleveland might turn to him as a compromise nominee in lieu of party leadership "parachuting" in somebody who never ran and hadn't earned a single vote or delegate.  Which is still delusional, but not as much as winning a mathematically-impossible delegate majority, and not as despicable as consciously selling out to Trump, even though sticking around does still help him.

Kasich's comments over the weekend certainly appear to corroborate this theory:

John Kasich drew boos on Sunday when said he said he believes the GOP presidential nomination will come from an open convention.

"If you can't get the magic number of delegates, then the delegates are going to choose," Kasich said at a Fox News town hall attended by him and Texas Senator Ted Cruz....

Kasich pointed out his belief that the presidential nomination will not be won outright before the convention.

"We are going to an open convention. I have been saying it for two months," he said.

Fresh supporting arguments for the likelihood of a contested convention came from Hugh Hewitt a few days ago:

Hewitt said that there’s no way Donald Trump gets to 1,237 delegates, even with the rosiest of scenarios for the slate of northeastern primaries next Tuesday, Indiana in May, and California in June....

Hewitt said he went State-by-State and gave Trump very generous amounts of delegates in his projection, including 51 of 59 of Indiana’s slate. Trump needs 392 delegates to clinch the nomination. Hewitt said Trump probably wouldn’t get any delegates in Nebraska, South Dakota, or Montana, which means in fourteen out of the fifteen contests left, the billionaire would only get 273 – and it’s doubtful he will do well in California, in which he would need to win 119 of the 172 delegates in that contest. He added that it’s doubtful that Trump would get any more than a hundred by the time Cruz, Trump, and Kasich duke it out in The Golden State, unless a “political asteroid” occurs.

Remember Cruz's superior organization and ground game?  Trump will be reminded of it again.  Soon.

So perhaps John Kasich isn't secretly planning to turn heel and join TrumpWorld, but he's simply still in the race for himself, yes?

That isn't the impression this Tweet sends:

NEWS: Kasich campaign will marshal campaign resources to New Mexico and Oregon, allow Cruz to focus on Indiana.

The Cruz Crew confirmed this #NeverTrump alliance almost simultaneously:

"Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans. Not only would Trump get blown out by [Mrs.] Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation," the statement on Ted Cruz’s website said.

Cruz’s statement said his campaign would "clear the path" for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.

After the primaries in those three States, however, Cruz and Kasich will resume their competition. Cruz’s statement said, "In other States holding their elections for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win."

Is this "desperation," as Trump Tweeted last night?  Given that this coordination was an about-face for the Cruzers, who were disavowing any such intentions last week, it's a fair, if still typically obnoxious, observation.  But if it works, as Double-H forecasts that it will, and holds Trump 119 delegates short of a first-ballot nominating majority, that's all that matters.  As I'm sure the pompadoured prince would be gleefully Tweeting if the positions were switched.

But has John Kasich truly become #NeverTrump?  John Fund raises some serious and suspicious doubts, including this smoking gun:

If Kasich isn’t clued into the details of the Cleveland convention, his chief strategist John Weaver certainly is. Weaver, a moderate Republican who has described his party as “a bunch of cranks,” was spotted in deep discussions with Trump’s new delegate tracker, Paul Manafort, at the Republican National Committee meeting in Florida last week. [emphasis added]

That would jibe with Senator Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) remark to the Enid News that, “I support John Kasich not so that he could be president, but so that if Donald Trump becomes president, I would want Trump to use him as vice president because Kasich is one of the smartest guys I know.”

It goes totally against everything Kasich has been saying for the past month, but as Mr. Fund points out, this would hardly be the first time ironclad primary campaign declarations had been so casually tossed aside:

Kasich himself claims there is “zero chance” he would sign on as Trump’s running mate as part of a deal to deliver his delegates for Trump. But Lyndon Johnson said the same thing before he became John F. Kennedy’s running mate, and so too did John Nance Garner before hitching up with FDR in 1932.

Of course, the difference in those past instances is that JFK and FDR were actually fellow Democrats - just like Donald Trump.  And can't you see the expression on his face when he called a mid-July presser with Governor Kasich for the latter to announce that he was releasing all his first-ballot delegates to Trump as his newly-minted running mate?  Suddenly The Donald's 1,118 ticks up to 1,266, Senator Cruz's superior organization and ground game is "trumped," and it's all over.  Those Weaver-Manafort "deep discussions" are, if not a dead giveaway, than certainly a terminally ill one.

Is there any #NeverTrump hope left?  Mr. Fund does hold out a few morsels:

Ron Christie, a former Kasich aide, says he doesn’t think the Ohio governor will ultimately sign on to the S.S. Titanic, I mean, S.S. Trump[tanic]. Kasich himself appears leery. “It takes a long time to change negatives,” Kasich told CBS’s Face the Nation today. “You can’t turn negatives around overnight. It’s not possible to do, because when you create that negative impression in people, you just can’t talk your way out of it, unfortunately, for those that have high negatives.” 
Parties aren’t known in the modern era for nominating kamikaze presidential tickets (Barry Goldwater and George McGovern being ancient exceptions). Nominating Donald Trump would look like a case of assisted suicide. It would be best for both the Republican party and John Kasich’s legacy not to join Trump’s ticket in a dramatic suicide pact.

Yes, it would.  It's clearly not in the Ohio governor's political self-interest, either.  But if this cycle has dismayingly demonstrated anything, it is that (1) the rank corruption of "populism" is capable of blinding and duping just about anybody, and that doesn't include the millionaire slumlord's overabundance of natural talent at unscrupulous "fixing"; and (2) sometimes party nominating electorates don't care about winning and just can't wait to smash into the electoral ground, all the better to stoke their insane anger for the next round of bullshit recriminations against those they see as their enemies - who are, in reality, their natural allies - while the REAL enemies are left, free and unfettered, to continue America's demise.

I'd offer preliminarily gracious congratulations, Trumplicans, if I had any idea what you will have accomplished, even in your own terms, other than to guarantee a Democrat reascendancy, and provide John Kasich gratuitously extra digital exercise.

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