Kasich Endorses $Trillion Nuclear Expansion
BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH JOHN KASICH
The doors officially opened at 4:00, but the place was already packed by that point. Fortunately I was able to place myself where I could ask the first question.
Gov. Kasich arrived promptly at his scheduled 4:30 time, and opened with every Horatio Alger, love of country, and nostalgia cliche and yarn in the book, skillfully and crisply delivered, mixing his life story with his political record. As one might guess, the crowd almost unanimously loved it, though it was too much corn for me, even on an empty stomach. It is clear that he is in bed with the military-industrial complex, but late in the session he said, “I do not pander.” On that ground, I think he’s telling the truth; he’s in the military-industrial bed from deeply held conviction.
When I got to ask a question, I inquired about the $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program and mentioned Robert Civiak’s [a retired Office of Management and Budget official] view that it is a complete waste and that our present deterrent is more than enough for now and the foreseeable future.
Kasich’s reply was unhesitating, and tough. “I disagree. I don’t know how President Bush appointed someone like him.”
Kasich cited his eighteen years on the House Armed Services Committee as the basis of his own knowledge, at which point I lost the contest based on appeal to authority. But then he went on to suggest that Civiak was against a strong national defense, at which point I had to correct him. At any rate, Kasich insists that the nuclear modernization program is vital, a point which won over the crowd. Then he diverted the question from nuclear weapons to the need for a stronger army and navy, and I had to admire how easily he slipped past the central issue. At least I was able to spar with him, and the more I look back on the experience, the more I find I liked it.
Maybe some people will remember the exchange, and think about the actual problem it tried to address. The man is tough but not mean, and though he’s currently a back-ender, he could take the GOP nomination with enough money and media behind him (his FOX connection couldn’t hurt), especially if the GOP feels his nomination is necessary to take Ohio in the general election.
He did get away with some whoppers, declaring that the US is the world’s most generous foreign aid donor (not true relative to GNP, though Kasich was right about aid getting stuck in the hands of corrupt governments), suggesting that the US is the only nation that respects free speech (tell that to western Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Israel, and Australia), stating that the US is unique in its opportunity and social mobility (tell that to the 99%), and implying that the environment and the economy are opposed interests that have to be balanced against each other (ain’t necessarily so).
He reveres Ronald Reagan, as he made plain. Overall, his agenda is the same as Reagan’s, with a gentler nod to the underdog and a stress on teamwork as the only effective way to get things done but a stricter insistence on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, a point he made several times in his presentation. As for social programs, he favors them chiefly from the states and private charity, with federal aid only as a last resort.
Kasich is an interesting man, alert and very well prepared. It is hard to think of him as ever caught off balance. He says what he thinks and lets the chips fall where they may.