Guys, it is a rough time to be John Kasich. The former GOP presidential candidate and current Ohio governor has yet to endorse Donald Trump, putting him at that especially agonizing juncture where #NeverTrump-ers, whether of their own free will or by force, seem to keep becoming #EventuallyTrump-ers. Kasich went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Thursday to discuss the terrible pressure one faces when they're a lifelong Republican — "There's this thing called Republican loyalty" — but they struggle to understand how a bombastic reality TV star has become the party's standard-bearer.
The interview is marvelous, and you should watch it. In a way, Kasich tragically encapsulates the agony of the GOP establishment right now, as it tries to figure out how to reckon with Trump’s hostile takeover. While speaking to Joe Scarborough, Kasich lamented the crushing pressure he’s facing to endorse, but simultaneously asserted that no one cares what he thinks. It seems to me like Kasich's trying to say that he doesn’t like Trump, but that he also doesn’t matter as much as Trump, and so no one is really impressed by his morality and suffering. He will valiantly try to cling to his standards for the benefit of a party which is somehow both failing him and simply failing to notice him. But it’s fine, because he will continue to express his reluctance to endorse Trump eloquently and with dignity. Observe:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know, it’s painful, it’s painful. You know, people even get divorces. I mean, sometimes things come about that, look, I’m sorry that this has happened but I mean we’ll see where it ends up. I’m not making any final decision yet, but at this point I just can’t do it.
Well, OK. As long as you’ve made that clear.
Scarborough then brings up Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, at which point Kasich cuts in and says, “Joe, you know politics. They don’t care what I think … as the governor of Ohio, with some people who pound on me, I said I’m not prepared to do it and he’s going to have to change.”
It is a tough time for Kasich, adrift at the mercy of those who "pound on" him. From my perspective, he's showing all the signs of a former #NeverTrump-er transitioning to the telling language of an anguished #EventuallyTrump-er, soon enough to be spat back out as an #OKIGuessNowI’mDoingThisTrump-er. If anyone will be around to notice.