Monday, October 30, 2017


I know you're not going to care about this post once Robert Mueller's indictments go public, but last night I was reading Lisa Miller's New York magazine story about John Kasich's eagerness to run for president in 2020 and I want to make a few points.

You may be thinking that Democrats have an excellent shot at victory in 2020. But what Miller writes about Kasich is a reminder that Democrats will probably face considerable hostility from the "liberal" media.

Kasich might run as an independent, or he might run as a Republican primary challenger to Trump -- he hasn't decided. Early in the story, Miller writes:
A third-party run is optimal if the major-party candidates represent ideological extremes.
What does she mean by that? Further on, she elaborates:
Practically speaking, “moderate” is a winning stance only if Kasich runs as an Independent against candidates who represent the furthest, most motivated flanks of their parties: Trump on the right and someone like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren on the left.... And it doesn’t work if the Democrats put up another centrist like Joe Biden, who has Kasich’s blue-collar authenticity — but with more charisma, more star power, whiter teeth, and a lot more name recognition.
Kasich talks about Biden:
Biden, he told me, “is very effective. He’s an old lunch-bucket Democrat. He’s a day at the mill and a shot and a beer and we’re going to give everybody a chance. You may be struggling, and it costs too much for your kids to go to college, but your kids are going to be something. I don’t know if the party wants it, because they’re so far left now, dominated by a handful of elites that drive them harder and harder left. If you’re a Democrat and you want to win, you have to figure out how to go around those gatekeepers.”
I'm afraid this is going to be the conventional wisdom in 2020, and it's maddening, because what is the message of Warren or Sanders -- or any of the other allegedly far-left, elitist potential Democratic candidates -- if it isn't "we’re going to give everybody a chance"? The Democratic aspirants' message is precisely "You may be struggling, and it costs too much for your kids to go to college, but your kids are going to be something" -- or at least "your kids are going to be something" if the rich don't get to keep all the money in America for themselves.

What makes this even more infuriating is that, near the end of the story, Miller acknowledges that Kasich, a former congressman who was part of Newt Gingrich's insurgent army in the 1990s, is not really a moderate himself:
Certain of his innovations, taken from the conservative playbook, have had dubious effects. Kasich is a strong proponent of charter schools (and for-profit prisons), but he presides over a public-education system that dropped in Education Week’s national rankings from fifth place in 2010 to 22nd in 2016. In 2011, Kasich endorsed the gutting of government unions (though it later failed a ballot referendum), and last year he signed a bill into law that bans all abortions after 20 weeks — and then boasted that he didn’t sign the law that banned abortion after an audible fetal heartbeat.

His is, in fact, a rather conventional conservative résumé. That he’s able to market himself as a moderate signals just how immoderate the right has become.
But this is how it's going to be in 2020: If Trump is challenged by any #NeverTrump Republican -- Kasich, Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake -- the press will declare that challenger a centrist, regardless of the challenger's ideology or record. And the Democratic candidate -- unless it's Biden or Andrew Cuomo or Pelosi-bashing congressman Seth Moulton -- will be declared a far-left elitist extremist, even if the only evidence of extremism is support for single-payer health care. This is the narrative the press wants to write in 2020: extremism on both sides. As in 2016, but for somewhat different reasons, the Democratic candidate might find that the media is a tougher opponent than Trump.

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