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    What Is John Kasich Thinking?

    Where the heck have I been? Short answer: doing Shakespeare stuff. (Much more about that soon.) But now I'm back in Cleveland, where the Republican National Convention is on its way, John Kasich is governor, and no one understands exactly how these two things relate to each other. So let me ask an important question this election season: What on Earth is John Kasich thinking?

    First, let's review the key facts: Governor John Kasich is one of the three candidates still actively running in the Republican presidential primary. Of those three candidates, Kasich is currently coming in fourth. That isn't a joke; Marco Rubio still has more delegates than John Kasich. Rubio quit a month ago, just at the moment when winning Ohio convinced Ohio Governor John Kasich that he was in it to win it.

    But coming in behind Rubio doesn't matter, because Kasich can't actually win a majority of delegates anyway. I don't mean "can't" is in "won't" but "can't" as in "mathematically impossible." Kasich was mathematically eliminated from the election weeks ago. I am not making any of this up. I could not make any of this up.

    This, by the way, is the one billed as the sane, reasonable, practical Republican.

    What could explain this seemingly irrational behavior? I see three possibilities, two of which explain the apparent irrationality as some degree of actual irrationality.

    First, Kasich could simply be in denial. Getting close to the Presidency at all, even being a dark horse candidate for the nomination, can do strange and terrible things to the human mind. Once you've seen that possibility in front of you, it can be hard to accept that the chance has gone by forever.  (As a sidebar, some of the current tactical nastiness on the Democratic side might be explained by exactly this: getting close enough to make the possibility seem real while being far enough behind that it's already slipped through your fingers. It can take a while to work those feelings through.) Don't judge. This is a psychological temptation that most of us never face.

    I'm going to call this the One Ring scenario, in which the power of the Presidency is so powerful that having it between your fingers, even for a few moments, will drive you obsessively mad. In this scenario, Kasich is Gollum, obsessively chasing a prize that he has long since lost.

    The second possibility is the modified One Ring scenario, in which Kasich is not completely irrational but only mostly irrational. Kasich may well have set his heart on stealing the nomination at the convention, partly assisted by the fact that the convention itself will be in his home state (you know, the only state he's actually won). This makes Kasich Saruman rather than Gollum: trusting in his own guile to get the prize, but with a plan that's too clever by half and that also badly underestimates the sheer force of other claimants. (Is Trump Sauron in this scenario? He has all the best orcs! He's going to build a wall and make Gondor pay for it!)

    Now, I've been talking up the contested-convention scenario on this blog for months now, and it remains a possibility. But sometime over the last month people started talking about a contested convention as a sure thing. That sudden hardening of conventional wisdom is alarming. And the truth is denying Trump the 1237 delegates he needs will be a close, close thing if it happens. Not to mention the fact that if he comes up a few short, people will say the highest vote-getter should win. Not to mention that if Trump somehow fails, it will be very hard to deny the nomination to Cruz.

    If Kasich thinks that holding the convention in Cleveland will give him enough local advantage to take the presidential nomination away from TWO candidates who've BOTH beaten the hell out of him in 49 primaries and caucuses, he is being totally delusional about how much home-town advantage counts. One little stronghold is not enough, Saruman.

    But what if Kasich is actually acting rationally? And what if I dropped the Tolkien analogies completely? Let's call the third scenario The Kingmaker Scenario. In this, Kasich is still betting on some form of contested convention, or at least preparing himself in case it happens. But rather than imagining himself as the white knight anointed in Cleveland to save the Grand Old Party from, umm, its voters, what if Kasich imagines himself as a player trying to strike the best possible deal? (Oh, fine. Let's call him Tyrion Lannister. Happy now?)

    Kasich may know that he's not getting the crown, but see the possibility of getting something for himself at a contested convention because his little pile of delegates may make or break someone else. If neither Trump nor Cruz comes in to Cleveland with a majority, Kasich may be able to extract some promise from one of them in exchange for his votes, perhaps even the VP nomination.

    Is that what Kasich is doing? I have no idea. Machiavellian cunning doesn't announce its plans to the public, and delusions don't always explain themselves well. If Kasich is really playing the angles, he has to pretend like he's still trying to win the election. If Kasich is too self-deluded to play the angles, we won't know until July. And if he is hoping to make a deal, it's not clear if there's a line he would draw. Is he hoping to put Cruz over the top? Or would he make the same deal with Trump? There's no way to know yet.

    And let me tell you: here in Cleveland, the suspense is not a lot of fun.



    Ah, thought you were heading into "Bored of the Rings" territory where Kasich would see himself as GoodGulf, and Trump might be the Jolly Green Giant that all the squash and legumes where leaping onto the ramparts from. Cruz would be Goddam, of course, with the "way to a man's heart is through his stomach" formulation as he clutches his dagger. Sanders makes a good cross between Frito and Dildo, while I guess Hillary could be Eörache or Stomper, but more likely a Snow White/Evil Stepmother composite of Monty Python "not to appear in this movie" fame.

    I think the line from Bored of the Rings I most relate to these days is Frito's eye-rolling "It's gonna be a long epic."

    ;-)  Got me chuckling out loud.

    Stay safe Dr. You could see violence in the streets of your town

    Riots, National Guard, Trump/Kasich, the party of law and order.

    Thanks, o-k and Oxy, but I have already been worrying about this for weeks and months.

    I am not going to be at risk; we just bought a house in the Heights, several miles uphill from the convention area.

    But I am NOT happy that an event that was supposed to be positive for our city may turn into a black eye, or worse. Not happy at all.

    The Heights are strategically the most critical ground to hold, or take, control of the city center. Even at Gettysburg snipers lairs were often at extreme distances. Recall Devils Den, Little Round Top........

    Consider it a fortuitous circumstance that most of the Cliven Bundy gang are still in jail. 

    Actually, I propose rallying around the Garfield Monument, because:

    1) it's on a hill

    2) it's highly visible at medium range

    3) the irony.

    How true. I would stay well clear of it.

    Gotta love a city that has a monument to Garfield.

    The Garfield Monument is right around the corner from Little Italy, so the indispensable lasagna supply is always close.

    It\s unlikely that any Republican this year can keep Hillary Clinton from winning the Presidency,  On the other hand, Hillary might be a really rotten President, or at least be viewed as such,  A Republican Congress isn't going to cooperate with her after all, nor is ISIS.  And aren't we about due for another recession?

    So a 2016 Republican nomination for President isn't that valuable to Kasich or Rubio.  But being remembered for doing well in the 2016 campaign will certainly be an asset for any candidate for the Presidency in 2020.  And Kasich and Rubio are young enough to be considering that,


    Nobody knew who he was at the start of campaign season. Now he is discussed in the news every day. Tons of air time. People are hearing his name. He is getting endorsements that will be mentioned if he runs again in four years. Maybe things break for him at the convention, most likely not, but if he remains the "adult in the room" after the chaos, he has a jump on 2020.

    Thanks for the comment, Mike. And that does seem plausible.

    My caveat is that Kasich isn't doing particularly well. (Nor is Rubio, for that matter.) There's a real chance that they're building a track record that will keep people from rallying around them in 2020. It's unpredictable, because we haven't had a primary season like this in the modern era, but Kasich and Rubio may just get pigeonholed as Guys Who Couldn't Beat Trump.

    The only thing that reasonably makes sense to me is he's running for the vp. But then, none of it makes sense to me. I don't see any good scenario for the republicans at this point. Giving it to the candidate that lost the most just because he polls better than the others against Hillary is just one of those bad scenarios.

    Is this the year polls jumped the shark? Because in 2008/2012, I saw Nate Silver bring some new methodology in, but it was basically "average and weight", and now it seems everyone's too lazy to weight, so it's cram careful and misleading polls all in together, stir and shake and bring to a low boil. We've got millions of people online giving their opinions, but polls continue to be a safe "600 carefully randomly selected likely voters". Which if we look at caucuses as 1/10th the vote of primaries and how that selection changes things, a sample of 1/1000th or 1/10000th is still lost in the hope-and-prayer stage. If all the polls follow similar methodologies, it's also possible they all will suffer from similar skew or blindspots, but then again, except for the huge races, there simply aren't that many polls being done at all.

    Strange, in an age when analytics is growing up fast, we don't have enough data to analyze. Too many cooks/analysts, not enough kitchen staff/street pollers.

    From my reading it seems the biggest problem with polling is less people having land lines. It's illegal to use automated calling to cell phones and expensive to have real humans to dial each number. A larger and larger portion of the electorate is mostly not being polled. The other problem is a growing number of people are refusing to be polled. Both of these problems are aged skewed toward the young. I suspected that this year's democratic primary polls would be more skewed than we've seen with Sanders supporters tending to be younger but mostly the polls have been relatively accurate, with rare exceptions like Michigan. I haven't seen a good analysis as to why yet but I suspect after this election we'll see some interesting articles about polling successes and failures this cycle.


    First, if one listens to people like rush or levin or beck all day, O'Reilly might sound reasonable. hahahahah

    If you listen to Cruz and T-Rump all fricken day, Kasich sounds sane.

    It would be fun to hear Kasich go on an angry rant like Billo did the other day:

    ​And we know Kasich gets mad. I mean only a couple of decades ago he voted to impeach my President. hahahah

    I do not see what Kasich loses by staying 'in the race'. He will receive big fees next year to speak in front of idiots, he will receive big bucks writing books for other idiots, he might even end up with his own radio or tv show.

    He has nothing to lose.

    HaHaHa. The Republicans are all a bunch of 'preverts' idiots and liars.

    Billo 'heard the shot' in the '77 suicide death of George DeMohrenschildt as he says over and over and in his 2012 JFK book......Even though Gaston Fonzi, who was there in Florida that day said in his 1993 book The Last Investigation, for which he was employed by the late 70s Congressional Assassinations Committee, that his friend Billo phoned him later that day FROM TEXAS to get the scoop.

    The GOP is trying to make government so corrupt and perverted and fact free that no sane person would want  to serve along side them. 

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