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I was, until recently, positively disposed towards Governor John Kasich. Sure, he made some compromises about Obamacare that cast doubt on his conservative credentials. Sure, he mentions his faith too many times in order to justify some executive decisions. Sure, he got lucky — as Donald Trump says — when he struck oil in Ohio (though he also deserves some credit for getting on the right side of the shale revolution unlike, say, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo). But overall, I liked his experience and track record.
But then, Kasich disappointed me on Tuesday night with what may be one of the worst lines ever spoken in a debate: “Philosophy doesn’t work when you run something.”
Ouch. Double ouch. The context is largely unimportant — he was sparring with Cruz about bailouts — but I think Kasich just lost whatever chance he had.
If philosophy does not matter, what are we discussing here? Why are we even having these debates? Let’s just choose the person with the longest resume. That, of course, would work to Kasich’s advantage, but it would not suit the voters who very much want to hear about philosophy.
Kasich is wrong about philosophy, which underpins everything. What he should have said is that dogmatism does not work when you run something, a line that would have found more sympathy in the audience. But now, we are left wondering: did he mean that philosophy — any philosophy — should be discarded in a crisis? Or did he mean dogma? The first should disqualify him because it would elevate pragmatism to highest virtue of leadership, which means a country simply muddles along without direction. The second would be unattractive but less objectionable because in our system, nothing can be achieved without compromise.
Ideally, you need both the resume and the philosophy. Somebody should tell Kasich.
(Philosophy had a decidedly bad night in the debate. At another moment, Rubio said that “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” I am not even sure that Rubio’s statement is true. The second sentence contradicts the first one. If we did have many more welders, at a certain point they probably would not make more money than philosophers.)