There was a part of me that honestly thought that John Kasich would keep things going through the California primary, at least to be the last remaining symbol that the Republican Party was not entirely in thrall to the charms of a vulgar talking yam. I thought maybe that he would mount some sort of guerrilla campaign to demonstrate at least a token resistance to the very idea of Presumptive Nominee Donald Trump. Alas, however, I underestimated the power of shameless capitulation. The Gray Lady informs us that Kasich is catching the Cruz train out of town.
A conventional candidate in an unconventional race, Mr. Kasich outlasted the other governors in the Republican field. But his longevity was largely a testament to his unbending refusal to drop out long after it became clear that voters were not flocking to his campaign. He rarely wavered from his above-the-fray approach to his rivals, even as they racked up far more delegates. When his rivals attacked one another, Mr. Kasich struck a sunny tone and told people that they were made special by the Lord. When his opponents took polarizing and contentious positions, he emphasized his record as governor of Ohio and his long career in Congress.
Now that it's largely a memory, the Republican nominating process seems like nothing more than a collision of Potemkin candidates out of which emerged the greatest Potemkin candidate of them all. First, we had the "deep bench" of Republican candidates, a group which melted away almost entirely in the first heat of the campaign. Then, we had the idea that Jeb (!) Bush would be the candidate on whom the Republican power elite would settle, except that Jeb (!) approached the job of campaigning like a lifer approaching the rock pile for the 1,567th day in a row. Finally, we had the idea that Ted Cruz, a man so far off to the right that he should have been campaigning in the Azores-except that nobody there would like him, either-was going to be the fellow to slow the momentum that He, Trump was building. All of these shams blew away on the wind.
Kasich's Potemkin campaign consisted of the notion that he was a "moderate" in a field consisting of extremists and opportunists and whatever-the-hell-Trump-is. (Even to this day, that illusion persists. In its story about his withdrawal, the Times refers to him as "a moderate voice" which, this year, meant simply that he declined to accuse anyone's father of palling around with Lee Harvey Oswald.) Kasich was a Reagan conservative, start to finish. He was an advocate for The Worst Idea In American Politics, and for the worst possible method to implement it. His basic claim to moderation was the fact that he didn't campaign like a wild man, and that he never missed an opportunity to remind people that he wasn't. That was why I thought he might hang on, just for comparison's sake. Because, as Tiger Beat On The Potomac reminds us, the comparison is still quite valid.
"All I was doing was referring to a picture that was reported and in a magazine and I think they didn't deny it," Trump said Wednesday during a phone interview with ABC's "Good Morning America." "I don't think anybody denied it. I don't know what it was exactly, but it was a major story in a major publication and it was picked up by many other publications." Trump argued that the tabloid has "brought many things to light" and insisted that all he did was allude to the cover story. "I'm just referring to an article that appeared. I mean, it has nothing to do with me," Trump said.
You're John Kasich, decent Republican guy, supposedly. And this guy beat you like a tin drum. That's gotta sting.