John Kasich is such an appealing guy, isn't he? He went to a same-sex wedding once. He thinks Donald Trump's plan to deputize the violent thugs at his rallies so they can kick out all the brown people is pretty unreasonable. His folksy Midwestern-dad charm gives Democrats fits of terror when we imagine facing him in the general election.
He's the anti-Trump and the anti-Ted Cruz, neither a demonstrably racist egomaniac nor a pinched and sleazy blowhard.
Add that all together, and it spells M-O-D-E-R-A-T-E.
Kasich was always supposed to be the moderate in the race, which is why he wasn't given much of a chance of surviving until Iowa, let alone this late in the game. But on Tuesday, he won his home state, winner-take-all Ohio, throwing a genuine wrench into Trump's march toward the nomination.
He has as much a shot at that nomination as Cruz does. Both are going to need a brokered convention to win, and Cruz's habit of alienating literally every human being he comes in contact with might put his chances at risk. Why shouldn't the convention turn to Kasich, who will come in with the third-most delegates and the best shot at beating Hillary Clinton in the fall?
After all, he'll tempt plenty of independents who distrust her. And the Bernie Sanders supporters who will hold their nose to vote for Clinton to avoid a Donald Trump-led apocalypse might not be as motivated when the aw-shucks governor of Ohio is her opponent. A Wall Street Democrat versus a moderate Republican? Why bother? (Nader voters from 2000 will be familiar with this sentiment, as well as the feeling of being proven terribly wrong over the next eight years.)
Despite his carefully cultivated appearance, and despite comparisons to the moron and the goblin left standing next to him, John Kasich is no moderate. A cursory look at his record proves the opposite: On the issues that matter, Kasich is a deep-red conservative who would do everything in his power to move America in an uglier, more regressive direction.
Let's look at just one issue: the right of women in Ohio to get an abortion when they need one. As governor, Kasich has done everything in his power to put roadblock after roadblock in their way.
Kasich has worked with the legislature to jam some of the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion policies into the state's budget (a neat trick that makes them easier to pass).
In 2013, the budget defunded Planned Parenthood, eliminating $1.4 million in federal funds that went toward a wide variety of health care services — and not a penny toward abortion, since federal dollars can't pay for abortion anyway.
That same budget funded so-called "crisis pregnancy centers," fake health clinics that offer free pregnancy tests and sometimes ultrasounds to draw women in the door, where counselors ply them with false information claiming abortion causes everything from breast cancer to cooties.
Thanks to Kasich, women in Ohio who need an abortion must undergo an ultrasound — and a doctor must describe the fetus to them — a condescending, harassing provision that implies women don't understand what being pregnant actually is, and that once they find out, they won't want an abortion anymore. (Turns out they pretty much all still do.)
Perhaps ugliest of all, Kasich's 2013 budget banned rape crisis counselors from referring victims of sexual assault to abortion services. Tell a woman who's been raped how to end a pregnancy, and you lose your funding from the state.
John Kasich thinks women who are raped shouldn't be told where they can get an abortion, and he used the power of his governorship to stop it.
The 2015 budget included further restrictions to abortion clinics, meaningless requirements masquerading as "protecting women's health" with the actual purpose of shutting clinics down. And shut down they have: About half of Ohio's abortion providers have shuttered since Kasich took office, and that number could easily rise.
That's the real John Kasich. Not the friendly dad on the debate stage shaking his head at all the bickering. Not the guy who attended a same-sex wedding — the one who went, and still opposes same-sex marriage. Not the one who sounds reasonable and kind — the one who would keep a rape victim from learning where she can end her pregnancy.
The Republican Party has three choices left: a man who would fundamentally destroy the values that actually make America great, a conservative true believer who would take America backward in a thousand different directions… and Ted Cruz.