The traumatizing 2016 campaign flashbacks have already started. I’ve noticed that John Kasich’s name has come up somewhat frequently in discussions about a Trump 2020 primary challenge. (At least we can start this off with the victory of Michael Avenatti not being a candidate.)
While you will now find me ‘defending’ Trump on the basis that ‘he is now driving the car and I don’t want him to crash it’, I don’t care for Kasich because (while I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016) I was supporting Ted Cruz for the 2016 Republican nominee (and donated to him like I had Clinton). I supported Cruz, not because I like his platform so much as because I was deeply concerned about Trump’s rhetoric and connections to Russia. I saw Cruz as the most likely person to beat Trump in the 2016 Republican primary. Think what you will of Ted Cruz, there is no doubt he is a brilliant human being and surprisingly self-deprecating despite being somewhat sanctimonious.
In the end, Kasich stayed in the race when he could no longer win, which sapped votes from Ted Cruz (who at that moment was the only Republican mathematically capable of beating Trump in the primaries). Kasich only bowed out when it was clear Cruz threw in the towel (although correlation does not necessarily mean causation). This clearly played to Trump (arguably along with ‘Lucifer’ rhetoric from Congressmen John Boehner R-OH and Peter King R-NY). For his part, it is clear that Trump viewed Cruz as a threat — giving him the sobriquet ‘Lyin Ted‘, critiquing the appearance of Cruz’ wife, and even going so far as to repeatedly implicate Cruz’s father in the JFK assassination by implying an apparently false association with Lee Harvey Oswald. (Note to self, associating political opponents with Lucifer is strong memetic conservative politics. Just ask Russia, Ben Carson, and Hillary Clinton.)
“A vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump,”– (not) Lyin’ Ted Cruz, March 2016
Despite Kasich coming across like any Republican soccer mom’s ideal candidate, you shouldn’t trust him. As the above passage shows, despite being an ‘anti-Trump’ candidate, his apparently moralistically narcissistic campaign behavior all but ensured Donald Trump became the nominee and aided a simultaneously all-out-political hit job on Ted Cruz . Was it more, and was Kasich’s campaign in cahoots with Paul Manafort or Roger Stone?
At the time, I attributed Kasich’s behavior to the fact that Kasich’s campaign was advised by Charlie Black, who was the former business partner of Paul Manafort and Roger Stone (who’d worked for dictators along with Manafort in the past). It seemed pretty apparent that despite their apparently different platforms, on the surface, the ‘back rooms’ of the Kasich and Trump campaigns were managed by people who were closely connected. Unfortunately, this had the appearance of some kind of political conspiracy against Ted Cruz in favor of Donald Trump, managed by the all too familiar 2016 names of Black, Manafort & Stone.
“In the photo, the three perennial power brokers are all smiles, each having done their part to elect their former client to the presidency.”– Daily Beast
Although it anguishes me to express public support for Trump (again I simply support him as our President — and his actions don’t always seem to match the rhetoric — which is undoubtedly very concerning); I really just want him to get out of here without ‘crashing the car’. I don’t want him impeached like Russia wants even if they got him elected. We don’t need the chaos. It would be great if Trump was done after 4 years through the normal democratic process; even better if he exited gracefully after a lost primary challenge.
But it is clear that Kasich cannot be the man for the job; since he seems likely in cahoots with the whole Paul Manafort – Roger Stone crowd beneath the surface. Indeed, Kasich worked with Roger Stone and Charlie Black as early as 1976 — and Charlie Black was self-admittedly an ‘informal adviser’ to Trump following Kasich’s exit in May 2016. If any two names should cause concern about Trump ties to Russia at this point, it is Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Charlie Black’s association with them raises the question of whether Kasich was playing to a Russian strategy in 2016 by staying in the race until Ted Cruz capitulated.
It’s not the potential Trump connection which scares me about John Kasich; it is the ‘way he played’ in 2016 alongside Charlie Black. If you hope Trump is gone in 2020, Kasich is not the man for the job. Republicans should be concerned that they will lose Kasich voters to the 2020 Democratic Party nominee. Nobody should give him or Charlie Black a platform in 2020 to work their ‘black magic’. Don’t let Kasich create a false controversy which will only end in disappointment. Let someone else do the job.