The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Enough sanctimony, Gov. Kasich

Excuse us for not swooning over Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s speech today portraying his opponents as offering a “path to darkness.” There is a lot wrong with his speech, including:

1. He equates truly noxious and unconstitutional ideas with simply bad ones. “We have heard proposals to drop out of NATO, abandon Europe to Russia, possibly use nuclear weapons in Europe, end our defense partnerships in Asia, and tell our Middle East allies that they have to go it alone. We have been offered hollow promises to impose a value-added tax.” Hmm, which one of these is not like the others?

We do not favor a VAT either and have roundly criticized such proposals. That, however, is a far cry from Donald Trump’s foreign policy lunacy or his vow to order the military to commit war crimes. Kasich here is simply smearing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) because Kasich is losing. Everywhere.

2. Kasich has done what he accuses his opponents of doing. Kasich, for example, has put out a tax plan that would punch a hole in the debt and constitute a big giveaway to the rich. Does that put him on the “path to darkness”? He indicts efforts to “balance budgets through simple and whimsical cuts in ‘fraud, waste and abuse.’ ” Fine. But where is his explicit and detailed plan? He was chairman of the House Budget Committee, he never tires of telling us. He is no more candid than any other contender.

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3. He was silent for months and months, refusing to criticize Trump. Too cowardly to incite Trump’s wrath, he let Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and finally Cruz do the heavy lifting. In fact, Kasich made his own refusal to speak up sound noble. He wasn’t getting all personal and critical like the other non-Trump contenders, you see. His speech now smacks of unbridled opportunism.

4. His own rhetoric has been unacceptable. Kasich has made support for his expansion of Medicaid a litmus test for concern for the poor, and worse, a litmus test of one’s religious sincerity. Has that contributed positively to the national discourse?

5. Why is he still in the race? In concocting a role for himself as the antidote for evil, he deflects justified criticism that he is only enabling Trump. He’s on an ego trip, it is fair to conclude, since it is impossible for him to get to 1,237 delegates. He has not won a single state other than his own. Rather than stepping aside for the good of the party to join with the #NeverTrump forces, he chooses to stay in, dividing the not-Trump vote. It does not strike me as noble to risk a Trump nomination simply to keep one’s name in the news.