The Morning Jolt


John Kasich Winning the 2020 Presidential Primary Is a Pipe Dream

Ohio governor John Kasich in 2016 (Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Ohio’s favorite son of a mailman suddenly realizes he’s not as popular as he hoped, an important look at minorities who have fought for America since the beginning, some bad numbers on the deficit, and where you can catch me this weekend.

John Kasich: Hey, a Primary Challenge against Trump in 2020 Might Not Work!

This is an unexpected acknowledgement of reality from a man who’s spent much of the past two years in stubborn denial of that reality.

In an interview with The Associated Press, [John] Kasich acknowledged he probably couldn’t defeat President Donald Trump if the election were held today.

He says he’s seriously considering his options and letting his advisers monitor the daily troubles Trump is facing, including talk of impeachment.

“If you’re going to run as a Republican you have to have a sense that if you get into primaries you can win. Right now, probably couldn’t win,” he told the AP. “But that’s today. It’s ever changing.”

There’s one school of thought that says that politically active Americans, the kind who vote in presidential primaries, are too quick to dismiss candidates who already have run for the Oval Office and lost. In any big endeavor, few people achieve perfect success in their first effort. Candidates who have run before hopefully have learned what to expect and can be better prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road. One-quarter of our presidents ran and lost before they won — including some likely favorites on the right such as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

But there’s a part of me that feels as if any candidate who wants a second shot needs to demonstrate a clearer revised strategy beyond, “The American people suddenly realize what a terrible mistake they made by rejecting me the first time and, driven by shame and regret, they swarm, en masse, to my now-obvious wisdom and leadership.”

I guess Kasich is counting on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report coming out and making Trump absolutely radioactive, even among GOP primary voters. Trump’s job approval is currently 43 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, which is about where it’s been for a long time. The majority of that 43 percent is Republicans, obviously.

A substantial percentage of Republicans will only abandon Trump if he looks like a sure loser in 2020, and people will only feel like they know Trump’s odds for reelection when they know who the Democratic nominee is going to be. While it’s possible that Democrats unite behind one figure, it’s also possible that a divided party doesn’t determine its nominee until the convention, which will be held from July 13 to 16.

Republicans hold their convention from August 24 to 27, so it’s theoretically possible that during that six-week span, Republican delegates could conclude, “Wow, there’s no way Trump can win this matchup, he’ll lose badly and take down a lot of other candidates down-ticket, so we had better nominate someone else!” but this is not a particularly likely scenario. It’s also theoretically possible that Trump would prefer to not run for reelection so as not to experience an embarrassing defeat.

But even if the Republican delegates in summer 2020 are desperate to find a nominee to replace Trump, how likely is it that they would pick Kasich? Mike Pence would be more disciplined, Nikki Haley has much broader appeal, and both would presumably be acceptable to most Trump fans.

John Kasich is not a man who was just one or two unlucky bounces from winning the nomination last time. On paper, Kasich could have and should have run better than he did in 2016. As a John Weaver client named “John,” on paper, Kasich is tailor-made to run in New Hampshire. He won 15 percent, 20 points behind Trump. That was the lowest-hanging fruit for a candidate like him in the early stretch — Kasich went on to finish fifth with 7.5 percent in South Carolina and 3.6 percent in Nevada, and he flopped on Super Tuesday. In the Arizona primary, he finished behind Rubio, who had already withdrawn from the race.

You know who loved Kasich in 2016? The New York Times editorial board and Joy Behar. Of course, not only do those folks not vote in Republican primaries, their praise can be seen as sort of an anti-endorsement.

As I wrote in a profile of the Weaver clients, “How many consecutive cycles must Republicans continue to watch reruns of the same campaign — a strategy that wins rave reviews from liberals in the media and yawns from grassroots Republicans? How many more candidates will dust off the old Weaver playbook and boast of their independence, their determination to put ‘country first,’ and how they’re not like those other Republicans?”

America Was Always Diverse . . . Which Is a Big Part of What Made It Great

Few articles have been more fun to research, assemble, and write than this one, inspired by a discussion on the National Review cruise about identity politics. How do you cultivate a healthy pride in one’s heritage while making sure it doesn’t turn into factionalism? How do you ensure that everyone feels a uniting sense of national kinship without denying the different experiences that different groups have had in this country since the founding?

You start by recognizing that most of the groups that are seen as “outsiders” have been here and have been contributing to — and, in particular, fighting for — this nation, for a long time. In some cases, they’ve been fighting for what became America since the beginning.

Maybe you’re familiar with some of the individuals and groups mentioned in the piece: Crispus Attucks; the Navajo Code Talkers; the Four Chaplains of World War Two, or “Hi Jolly”; and the use of camels during westward expansion. I had some familiarity with Spain’s navies and forces opening up a second southern front during the Revolutionary War.

I had no idea that perhaps as much as one-quarter of the troops at the Battle of Yorktown were black. Nor that so many Hispanics served on both sides of the Civil War, nor that some of the first Asian Americans were fighting in that war as well. I had no idea that Filipino Americans founded small communities in Louisiana and fought alongside Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. As I note, almost everyone knows the basics about Japanese internment, but I had never heard about a battalion of Japanese Americans fighting in Italy during World War Two. I had run across the name Haym Salomon but didn’t realize how important he was to keeping the Continental Army fed and clothed during the toughest parts of the Revolutionary War. I certainly hadn’t known that hundreds of Syrian Americans were on Henry Ford’s earliest assembly lines, or that thousands of Indian Sikhs had formed communities in California before World War One. I certainly had no idea that one out of every eight Native Americans alive during World War Two served in the U.S. armed forces.

I didn’t even mention some of the brave minority communities that popular culture or pop history have covered — Juan Seguin at the Alamo, the Tuskegee Airmen, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment depicted in the movie Glory, the Buffalo Soldiers.

The upshot of it all is that almost every group has been here, in bigger numbers than most think, much earlier than most think. And everybody contributed to the building of this great nation in one way or another — through their labor, through their culture and arts, and as covered in the piece, in many, many cases, fighting and dying to protect this nation. This would be a good point for our leaders to emphasize — that there are very few true newcomers to this country, and everyone has had something to contribute over our 242 years . . .

The Worst November Budget Deficit Ever?!?

If we still worried about this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing that would be very worrisome:

The U.S. posted the widest November budget deficit on record as spending doubled revenue.

Outlays jumped 18 percent to $411 billion last month, while receipts were little changed at $206 billion, the Treasury Department said in a monthly report on Thursday. That left a $205 billion shortfall, compared with a $139 billion gap a year earlier.

The U.S. ran the largest deficit in six years in fiscal 2018, the first full year of Donald Trump’s presidency when his Republican party enacted a tax-cut package and raised federal spending for the military and other priorities. The measures have added to the growing federal deficit, which is forecast to push past $1 trillion by 2020 when the U.S. next holds presidential elections.

Obama had a couple years of trillion-dollar deficits, but he at least had the excuse that the economy was slowly recovering from a deep recession and unemployment was high, so tax revenues would be lower than usual. Unemployment is low and the GDP is still going strong, so tax revenues shouldn’t be terribly low, and our pace of military operations is low compared to the past two decades. What happens if we hit an economic slowdown, recession, or a major military conflict?

ADDENDUM: I’m scheduled to appear on Howard Kurtz’s MediaBuzz on Fox News Channel this Sunday, which airs at 11 a.m. Eastern.