The Democrats are having a debate tonight and almost no one will watch it because, well, the Democrats are having a debate tonight. But it got me thinking about the Republican debate last Tuesday. The most shocking thing about it was not Cruz or Christie or Trump; it was John Kasich. He’s the “sane” one. He’s the governor of a bluish state. And thus far in the campaign, he is the only one that is a simulacrum of a human being. But I guess that isn’t working, so he’s decided to be like the others. And so he said, “Frankly, it’s time we punch the Russians in the nose.” That’s crazy.
There are so many things wrong with this. First, of course, is that it is a really bad idea. This is an excellent way to start World War III. And I don’t know what’s so terrible about what Russia has been doing. The country is awful, of course. But is it any worse than the United States? It is just pushing forward with its interests. In fact, its foreign policy seems a lot more clear headed than ours. I see that Ukraine is in its sphere of influence. I don’t see how Iraq ever was in ours. Yet when we decided to go to war with it, Russia didn’t think it was time to punch us in the nose.
But Kasich’s statement is also bad politics. He clearly does not understand the Republican base. It’s best to think of it as a schoolyard bully. It doesn’t want to start a fight with someone who can punch back; it wants to pound on defenseless targets. We managed to “win” the Iraq War in less than a month and a half. And now we bomb wedding parties via remote control. These are the kinds of fighting that Americans, conservatives most of all, want to be part of.
Kasich seems to think that what the Republican base wants as their leader is someone who is strong. But that isn’t true. They want a leader who will say the things that they think need to be said. Russia isn’t in the news. The focus hasn’t been on Ukraine in some time. And most people are confused about what Russia is doing now in the Middle East, but they know that they aren’t on the side of ISIS. What’s more, my pick for a strong president is Barack Obama. But again, getting things done, making sure that the US gets its way, these are not things that Republican voters care about. Republicans want to hear some bellicose fool proclaim, “We’re number one!” And they don’t care about much else.
So John Kasich wants to start World War III because, “They’ve gotten away with too much in this world.” He’s the “sane” one. But there he is, without the sense God gave an amoeba, calling for a provocation with the only country on Earth that has a similar number of nuclear weapons to us. We don’t know how exactly he would go about punching the Russians in the nose. But provoking another powerful country because we don’t like what they are doing is a long way past stupid; it is crazy. I hope to hear far more sense from the Democrats tonight.
Afterword: Kasich Isn’t the Only Crazy One
I know that Chris Christie was talking about shooting down Russian planes. But he isn’t the “sane” candidate; he’s the candidate who shut down a bridge to spite a local politician.