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Kasich follows Cruz, and it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next

REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Donald Trump, if he becomes president, will be the first ever to do so with no government experience at all, other than as a donor and receiver of government favors.

So now John Kasich is also out, following Ted Cruz’s similar announcement last night, which means that — unless he’s been doing this as a colossal prank all along — Donald Trump will be the uncontested nominee for president of the Party of Lincoln.

(Abe Lincoln, by the way, held the previous distinction of having the weakest résumé in terms of government experience of anyone ever to serve as president. Although he served many terms in the Illinois Legislature, and lost two bids for the Senate, his only federal service was a single term in the U.S. House.

Every other president had been either a senator, a governor, a general, a Cabinet member, or vice president before becoming president. And some of those with the most credentials (I’m thinking, for example of Lincoln’s immediate predecessor, the highly credentialed James Buchanan, who’s on the short list for worst president ever) had less than stellar terms. I bring this up because it suggests that a long prior record in high office is not necessarily the best predictor of presidential excellence. Donald Trump, if he becomes president, will be the first ever to do so with no government experience at all, other than as a donor and receiver of government favors.

I’ll just note one other thing. The pundits don’t know what’s going to happen. They basically never do, although if enough of them make enough predictions, some of them will turn out almost right.

But really, it’s not their job to know the future. Trouble is, they are constantly asked about what’s going to happen next and most of them lack the humility to acknowledge that they don’t know, or they are worried that if they say that they won’t be asked back on whatever show it is they said it on.

When Trump started, no one took him seriously as a future nominee, and many wondered if his strange announcement event was really just part of his long career in self-promotion. Then he started winning primaries and pretty soon he seemed inevitable. But then, if you go back just a few weeks, the Pundit Consensus was that Trump was unlikely to reach the magic number, and the pundictocracy spent the following fortnight or more explaining how a brokered convention was likely to go. Oops on that one, too.

I remember a great remark by a China scholar (I can’t remember whom) at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. The crisis had been building for two months, and the China pundits had announced that if the Communist government hadn’t already turned to violence to end the protests, the moment for doing so had passed. Then, as if they had just been waiting for the China pundits to say that, the government turned on the violence spigot.

So I was covering a group of China scholars who were asked to opine about what would happen next. And one of them (sorry, can’t remember who, but it was the humble one who had been part of the herd predicting no-crackdown) said: “Obviously, as we’ve just demonstrated, none of us are able to predict the future. So we should stick to do what we know how to do. Predicting the Past.”

I always loved that predicting-the-past bit. Which may be why I’m writing today about Lincoln’s résumé. But I won’t tell you (even though I know) whom Trump will pick as a running-mate.

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 05/04/2016 - 03:08 pm.

    The GOP finally has a leader – TRUMP! He’s a hate filled, insecure, racist, sexist, xenophobic, narcissist. Way to go GOP you have your man. Now watch the great uniter, Trump, try to pull together a party so fractured all the kings’ men won’t be able to put it back together again. To win the nomination Trump has alienated everyone he needs to win the general election. Who’s definitely not voting for Trump? Over half of America plus Women, Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims, and Republicans who haven’t voted for him and won’t vote for him. Three months ago the RNC saw what was about to happen and panicked. They thought of all the ways they could derail the Trump juggernaut, all to no avail. Trump is now their man, but there is no reason to vote for him. All 16 candidates that dropped out, GOP elite, and RNC have given all kinds of good reasons why Trump is not fit to be president. The Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson are holding their money back. Charles Koch has panicked so much he stated he thinks Hillary is a better candidate. They all have said Trump is not a conservative. Now the conservatives say vote for Trump because he is a conservative. The GOP can’t have it both ways. All the propaganda seeds the GOP has sown over the last thirty years have matured, the inaction in congress, and all the conservative ideas that have been tried in numerous states and failed miserably have come home to roost in the GOP house. Shortly it is going to be time for another worthless GOP election autopsy. Worthless because the GOP has the inability to recognize the truth about the failure of conservatism. I’m not sure they know the truth because over time they themselves have drunk the GOP kool aid. Whether they know the truth or not is meaningless right now because their biggest fiction generator is now their man. The GOP finally has a leader, it is Donald J. Trump. It is hard to put “Trump” and “leader” in same sentence. It is what the GOP has relentlessly worked for, so there is no denying the GOP deserves what they now have – Their Man Trump.

  2. Submitted by Rodgers Adams on 05/04/2016 - 03:27 pm.

    Filling air time

    Eric is right about the current tendency of cable pundits to focus on predictions, rather than on digging deep into what just happened. And heaven forbid that they should do serious reporting on the issues. That, after all, is the job for comedians like John Oliver.

    • Submitted by Mike Worcester on 05/05/2016 - 09:29 am.

      Along with….

      Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers, Jon Stewart, et al. When you need comedians to explain the real issues facing a nation, that nation perhaps needs some introspection.

  3. Submitted by Howard Miller on 05/04/2016 - 04:08 pm.

    Trump advocates more Jewish settlements in West Bank

    Republican nominee-apparent Donald Trump said that Jewish settlements in the West Bank should continue to expand.

    Do you supposed Richard Cheney has Trump’s ear, or is it some other lunatic who doesn’t recognize the need for a two state solution to build lasting peace in that war-torn patch?

    Donald Trump has the diplomatic finesse of bull in a china shop. Should he be elected, we may yet pine for the days of relative Republican “nuance” under W Bush, who showed nearly none

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/04/2016 - 07:11 pm.

    Next ?Trump runs for

    Next ?

    Trump runs for president.

    Picks Fiorina for running mate.

    Runs the campaign with record mud-slinging.

    Lying Ted is proven right.

    Deepens every divide possible.

    Complains of a rigged system when it looks like he is going to lose.

    Ultimately threatens riots if he loses (and both happen).

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/04/2016 - 08:59 pm.

    Don’t worry

    Whatever Trump says today,
    he’ll contradict tomorrow (if he waits that long).
    His running mate is important, though.
    In the unlikely event that he does get elected, he may well be impeached before his term is up.

  6. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 05/05/2016 - 08:55 am.

    The right wing media machine

    Created this and now has to deal with it. Expect threats, bullying, more veiled innuendo’s about Clinton (and specifically what has she done that is so dishonest?). His followers will become more belligerent, threatening and violent. Someone will be killed or seriously injured at one of his rallies, and he will blame the media.

    The Republican party created this mess, now let them fix it. Trump will likely create such a blowback that it will set the party back for decades with minorities, millennial, women, educated people and just about anyone who can actually think.

    Strap in for a wild ride.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/05/2016 - 12:21 pm.

      It will be at least an interesting ride: Trump is now forced to decide if he’s going to continue wildly ranting in wing-it style rally speeches, or morph into a milquetoast political figure who reads from scripted speeches on teleprompters or paper.

      He will face the nation either baldly as his true and uninformed hotheaded self, or as a total fake who has decided to play another role. If Trump supporters are in an emotional suspension of disbelief and refuse to see fakery in a “new” and “I can do presidential!” Trump, then all we can do is cross our fingers that the non-Trump voters don’t just decide to sit out the election.

  7. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 05/06/2016 - 05:27 am.

    If Trump becomes president, I do wonder

    …how will Trump handle dissent?

    If he builds up our military to unacceptable numbers enough to send even the war games mentality of the Pentagon scrambling to keep up with his common phrase “nuke ’em” used during his campaigning… and as a result protests begin rising; growing in opposition among the people…will he allow those voices of protest to voice their alternative views in the public arena or will he round them up and incarcerate them sans due process for voicing such opposition?

  8. Submitted by Craig Johnson on 05/09/2016 - 05:16 pm.

    So long and thanks for all the fish

    The problem is wholly within the established Republican party. Poor media management and relations have yielded a ‘Wag the Dog’ problem. The party did an abysmal job of vetting nominees, created a circus of ideologically rigid narratives. Established a shouting match of bellicose so called conservative credentials and tried to consistently out Trump Trump.

    At the same time they did this all poorly. Desperately trying to create a homogeneous front with T Party radials, old time conservatives and moderate Republicans, it became clear that the party stood for nothing. Their angst for a common front shattered.

    Thinking back to the administration of Eisenhower – a perfect picture of limited government due to a lack of interest in involvement in the great challenges of the day to the consummate cynic Nixon and its blind eye to its both social equity and constitutional responsibilities to the indifferent benign neglect of Reagan, the “Party of Lincoln” has stood for nothing. Now they are unhappy they have lost control.

    The epitaph for the GOP has already been written – just not yet published.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/10/2016 - 11:31 am.

    The other pundits is make: “we we”

    “No one” took Trump seriously? I can’t remember who it was back in the 80s but some media critic referred to this as making: “We we” i.e. What do we know? We didn’t think… etc. It’s funny how whenever the media pretends to critique itself they always pull punches. Obviously someone took Trump seriously or he never would have gotten the votes. I for one never doubted for a minute that Trump would get the republican nomination, I just don’t think he can win the actually election.

    I don’t know how anyone who’s been really paying critical attention to the republican party over the last 30 years could be surprised by Trumps nomination. Part of the surprise might be a weird kind of liberal denial that’s been in play since the 80s. For some bizarre reason a lot of liberals simply won’t recognize how truly toxic and incoherent republicans have become. I suppose if you’ve been denying that for the last 30 years Trump might be surprising.

    So yeah, dump the pundits. We’d all be better off watching Johnny Carson re-runs.

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