The governor of Ohio is brought to you by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and they approve of his message
By Mark Cromer
Watching the news Tuesday night and again throughout Wednesday in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s continued triumphs in polling booths from North Carolina to Illinois, from Florida to Missouri, the surreal train wreck of the Republican Party establishment as it continued to derail, jackknife and tumble in a horrible cloud of screaming debris until it momentarily came to a rest in Ohio was a sight to behold.
But it was there, in the rusted out hulk of the Buckeye State, where Karl Rove & Co. thought they saw a survivor amid their smoldering ruin.
And so it was a beaming Governor John Kasich, seemingly not a scratch on the two term business class Republican who cut his political teeth as a Congressman during the Reagan era, was suddenly spotted virtually everywhere on the news networks and in the newspapers, savoring his lone win in the rust belt state where he’s been governor since 2010.
If one hadn’t followed the electoral tsunami of Trump over the past 35 days (to say nothing of his dominance since last summer), one might get the impression that it was Kasich who was on a roll. Telling his election night hometown crowd that he was on his way to Philadelphia, Kasich promised his supporters this was indeed the beginning of his march on the GOP’s Cleveland convention where he would indeed emerge the as the party’s nominee.
And now for some math: since February 1st, Trump has won 20 of the states thus far contested, putting 673 delegates on the board, or more than half that he needs to win the nomination outright. His nearest competitor is Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texan with John Wayne’s guts but sans the gritty charm, who has carried seven states and posted 411 delegates on the ledger.
As of Tuesday, Kasich, the great lite hope of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has won a single state and now has 143 delegates under his belt. If Karl Rove gets his gimmicky dry board out on Fox News and ponders it a bit he may come to realize that remains just a tad more than 500 delegates deep south of Trump.
But in the death throes of the Grand Old Politburo, the fever has brought on delusionary schemes not seen perhaps since 1945 when Adolf Hitler sat in his underground toilet moving around imaginary panzer divisions and shouting out orders to the Jonestown sycophants that remained in the bunker waiting on their Götterdämmerung.
Thus Sen. Marco Rubio, who but just weeks ago was said to be every bit the brash fighter pilot the establishment was counting on to knock Trump’s lumbering Flying Fortress out of the sky, became a Kamikaze in the days before Tuesday, very publicly “releasing” his voters in Ohio to vote for Kasich in a suicidal bid to stop Trump. While Hideki Tojo may have been grinning approvingly in his urn (or wherever Gen. MacArthur dumped his ashes), Rubio’s decision to just follow orders did not herald a ‘divine wind’ that saved the GOP establishment from ruin, but only proved to be a sad footnote in his obliteration at the hands of the Florida voters who gave Trump a nearly 20-point victory in Rubio’s own Sunshine State.
In this politically chaotic year of 2016, the name Eugene McCarthy is not evoked so often as it once was, surely not as much now as George Wallace. But McCarthy, like Wallace, played a crucial role in the turbulent, pivotal year of 1968.
Wallace, who as governor of the Cotton State in the summer of 1963 infamously stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to prevent black students from attending Alabama’s Crimson Tide (and in doing so disgraced the ocean of American blood spilled to open those very doors to all), is once again in high news rotation as an easy set piece with which to frame the rise of Trump. In 1968, Wallace broke with the Democrats and ran in the general election on the American Independent Party ticket, winning five states and nearly 10 million votes that November.
George Wallace was the last third-party candidate to actually win states. John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992 made good shows of it, but it was only ‘the guvna’ from sweet home Alabama that took entire states away from the Republicans and Democrats.
It was a squeaker of an election, with political retread Richard Nixon beating incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the popular vote by 31,783,782 to 31,271,839. The Rev. Jesse Jackson has pointed to that sliver of Nixon’s win in confronting the popular malaise of “my vote doesn’t count.” In 1968, Nixon beat Humphrey by less than one vote per precinct. Wallace’s run in ‘68, like Trump’s this year, was rooted in angry white voters, but it’s impossible to say which way they would have broke had Wallace not been on the ballot. And that’s because as hard as it might be to believe now, in 1968 Humphrey was the war candidate. Nixon ran to end the war, albeit with a ‘secret plan’ and dubious caveats about ‘peace with honor,’ but he ran to end it. Humphrey was President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s bag boy and he carried LBJ’s luggage through customs in Indochina into the disaster of the Democrat’s Chicago convention and stumbled all the way to his loss in the fall.
But while Wallace on the stump in 1968 thundering to big crowds that there wasn’t “one thin dime of difference between the Democrat and Republican parties” still looms large today, McCarthy’s role that fateful year is less tangibly present but equally notable.
A senator from Minnesota, McCarthy had long been on the Democratic Party scene when in late 1967 he declared his candidacy against a sitting Democratic president in a time of war. In the rearview of history, this may seem as nothing more terribly surprising than a Quixotic stab at LBJ and his architect of the war in Vietnam, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. But then on March 12, 1968, with the debacle of the Tet Offensive burning fresh in the American psyche—ironically, Tet was ultimately a military defeat for the Viet Cong and North Vietnam, but it laid bare the lies Washington had been spoon-feeding the American people like so much morphine-laced porridge—McCarthy scored an upset victory against LBJ in the New Hampshire primary.
Except he didn’t.
McCarthy lost to LBJ in the Granite State that March, and he lost it by a healthy margin of eight points, 42-percent to LBJ’s 50-percent. The president won, but you wouldn’t have known it then anymore than you’d hear it now. Cronkite and the press corps dirtied their Dockers in the midst of Senator Whoever coming within single digits of a sitting president in an early voting state. And thus the narrative became McCarthy scored a ‘win’ in New Hampshire, the facts an inconvenient beside the point.
Welcome to the age of second place is not first loser.
Johnson famously noted in the wake of Tet that “if I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America” but in reality, it was when he won in New Hampshire that he lost his nerve and subsequently his second re-election. While the Left fanned out across America as ‘Clean for Gene’ (meaning hippies cut their hair and shaved before appearing at the door of Middle America), it was Bobby Kennedy that heard opportunity knocking. Realizing that McCarthy didn’t have a hope in hell of winning the nomination or the White House, RFK threw his hat into the race on March 16, only to be gunned down in Los Angeles’s Ambassador Hotel less than three months later.
And McCarthy? Well, he came into bloody Chicago after RFK’s assassination and The Desolation of LBJ with more votes and wins than any other candidate, dead or alive. And yet thanks to the magic of delegate math, cigar smoke, bourbon, call girls and the iron fist of Mayor Dick Daley’s Chicago machine, Hubert Humphrey limped out of the Windy City as the party’s nominee.
Now that’s a trick even Houdini would have a hard time pulling off.
So does Rove, Inc., believe they have enough of a sleight of hand to deliver that kind of illusion with Kasich? If so, their war on drugs surely stops with them, because they are definitely smoking, snorting, nay, mainlining high grade dope if they think that Lehman Bros.’ man in Columbus can bring voters to the polls following that sort of smoke and mirrors shenanigans.
A few days ago Kasich was asked about his plan to put the American worker back to work, what with there being nearly 100 million of them either unemployed or under-employed. And old Johnny didn’t miss a beat. He started talking about training and retraining workers for the “new jobs” of the 21st Century. It was a tired and meaningless vagary that offered nothing more than a vivid insight in the animatronic fraud that is Kasich. When asked if there were enough jobs to meet even skilled potential employees, Kasich deadpanned “if they have the skills, they’ll be hired.” Wow. Boom. Problem solved. Next question.
To the woman in proverbial Peoria standing behind 187 other applicants for a single opening for a skilled position that pays a living wage, she should be reassured by Kasich’s estimation that if she is qualified she’ll be hired. Simple as that. Or not.
But of course, Kasich’s bleating out such gibberish is just Kasich being Kasich. Robots do what they are programmed to do. Perhaps the only surprise was when Kasich uttered that nonsense a ‘beep, click and whir’ wasn’t also picked up by the microphone when the reporter pushed his button.
Kasich is a creature not only of Wall Street, but of its direct action, ground operations wing: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has waged a relentless war against the American worker for more than a century. They look at America not as a nation, not as a country, but as a market in the global economy. The American worker is not the American worker, but rather ‘labor capital.’ Borders are barriers to profit for them, and tariffs are treason to their internationalist order.
For Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (a misnomer if there ever was one) and the ruling GOP hierarchy now in meltdown, this election has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat, of liberal or conservative, or even mainstream versus insurgent. It is about globalism versus nationalism. It is about internationalists pitted against nationalists.
It really is about the proverbial ‘us vs. them.’ Except it’s Them v. Everyone Else.
And in that regard, George Wallace was right when he declared any real distinction between the parties is dead. When he said it in 1968 he had no idea how much more horribly true his estimation would become.
On Tuesday night, Kasich, basking in the five-watt glow of his Ohio ‘victory,’ uttered a Freudian slip when he waved his arms around and told the crowd “Hey, this is all I got.” He’s right, it is.
As the governor of a state that has seen its living wage, skilled labor jobs decimated by the impacts of the so-called ‘Free Trade’ pacts and internationalist policies that he has long been a C3PO for, he has no idea how right those words will likely prove to be in this season of a mass American awakening, with Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders embodying not so much the anger as the pure rage of the vast swath of an America long discarded.
But Rove, Mitt Romney and Reince Priebus aren’t counting on a sudden groundswell of voter support to lift Kasich into Cleveland. No, they are fighting a fanatical rear-guard action, deploying every media asset and operative they have, to keep Trump from arriving—if even just only one vote short—with the nomination on the first ballot under wraps.
They believe that if they can succeed in that, then this night of the long daggers gone awry that has unfolded in public over the past six months will turn back into something they can control, no matter how obscene the outcome.
But they are deluded.
If Trump rolls into Cleveland with the most delegates and the most votes but Kasich or anyone else emerges as the nominee from what will then undeniably be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s bunghole, Trump’s voters will walk and the Republicans will deserve the 45-state or more annihilation they will so richly be delivered in November.