Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sure, Kasich hates the ACA and the Iran deal

I, Democrat, think John Kasich is the Republican presidential candidate best qualified to be president. Ergo, he's doomed.

It's become a cliche that Kasich is this cycle's Jon Huntsman, a GOP candidate who seems borderline sane to Democrats and hence is a total political anaphrodisiac to Republicans. Kasich is more formidable than Huntsman and getting a better response from GOP audiences, at least in New Hampshire. But the principle does apply.

I'm not the closest observer in the political audience but that's why I'm so sure. In a year, I've sopped up two subtexts from Kasich: the ACA is okay, and so is the Iran deal. He'd deny both, but he's pricked my political pituitary twice. First, on the ACA. Last October Kasich told the AP:

The opposition to it was really either political or ideological. I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives.
Kasich later protested that he was referring strictly to the Medicaid expansion, not to the whole law. The AP published a clarification to that effect. It's credible on one level, as Kasich, who pushed through the Medicaid expansion in Ohio, has consistently defended it while claiming to favor repeal of the ACA as a whole.  But how credible is it that a card-carrying conservative would defend Medicaid expansion to the death while decrying the established of subsidized private insurance exchanges?

Sure, Comrade. You never said that Trotsky was a pretty good communist.

Next up: the Iran deal. Were he still in Congress, Kasich would have voted against it for sure. He was only bowing to a harsh Democrat-imposed reality when he said this in the Sept. 16 CNN debate:
KASICH: Well, let me just say this. First of all, I think it's a bad agreement, I would never have done it. But, you know, a lot of our problems in the world today is that we don't have the relationship with our allies. If we want to go everywhere alone, we will not have the strength as (ph) if we could rebuild with our allies.

Now, this agreement, we don't know what's going to happen in 18 months. I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years. I've seen lots of issues in foreign affairs, and foreign -- in terms of global politics, you have to be steady.

Now, here's the -- if they cheat, we slap the sanctions back on. If they help Hamas, and Hezbollah, we slap the sanctions back on. And, if we find out that they may be developing a nuclear weapon, than the military option is on the table. We are stronger when we work with the Western civilization, our friends in Europe, and just doing it on our own I don't think is the right policy
Ok, it's a bad agreement. But meanwhile... a) it's essential to work with allies, as the US did in negotiating the deal, and b) if the Iranians cheat, the US has recourse (and in fact, with respect to nuclear cheating as opposed to aiding Hamas and Hezbollah, can slap back on not only unilateral US sanctions but international sanctions under the agreement's terms). In other words, it's enforceable, and the US is better off with the it than without it. 

Now, you could argue in detail that it's possible to posit with perfect consistency  that a) it's a bad deal, and b) everything Kasich said about it is true. But that's not the subtext. Kasich concedes far too much benefit proceeding from both the ACA and the Iran deal to appeal to Republican sensibilities. Never mind that he's enacted 16 anti-abortion measures and did his utmost to crush Ohio's public employee unions. He gives off a RINO aroma.

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