I look forward to Kasich getting into the 2016 presidential race if for no other reason than he is pugnacious enough to call foul when, say, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) defends not acting against Assad or when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) waffles on whether boots on the ground are needed against the Islamic State. Kasich knows enough and is brash enough to challenge Republicans who can’t bring themselves to repudiate the Iran framework. In this regard, he is a more abrasive version of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who tends to use humor to call out those operating in the never-never land of non-intervention, retrenchment and wishful thinking.
Kasich is also old enough to remember when the real Ronald Reagan was in office, not the caricature that some now paint of him. At the time Kasich was a young congressman who can attest that Reagan did not declare war on the safety net (although he had no tolerance for fraud and abuse), lowered and raised taxes, was determined to rebuild the military and was fervently pro-immigration. (Reagan said in 1981: “Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands. No free and prosperous nation can by itself accommodate all those who seek a better life or flee persecution. We must share this responsibility with other countries. . . . Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. At the same time, in so doing, we must not encourage illegal immigration.”) Those who misappropriate Reagan’s name are likely to get challenged.
It’s not clear that Kasich will rise to the top of the pack, but he’s smart and blunt and old enough to challenge his competitors when they wander into the fever swamps or try to rewrite history. That will make the race more interesting and the eventual winner more prepared to take on Hillary Clinton.