Rob Nichols has the hardest job in Columbus. He has to make John Kasich’s ideas seem sane. Sometimes, that requires Nichols to say things that are just patently absurd. Like this defense in the Columbus Dispatch’s of Kasich’s decision to give the State of the State address in a public high school in Steubenville as opposed to the Ohio House chambers:
“Part of the reason Ohio lost 400,000 jobs over the previous four years was because people were unwilling to make the necessary changes to get Ohio back on track, and now we have people unwilling to do something as simple as attend a speech in another town,” he said.
So, moving the State of the State to a high school gym in Steubenville is a “necessary change” to get Ohio back on track. I’ll admit it, I bet Ted Strickland didn’t have the vision to realize that. Granted, I cannot objective establish that there is not an actual correlation between the location of the State of the State and the nearly 400,000 jobs Ohio lost since 2008. However, I can provide at least a temporal correlation between those jobs losses and something economists call a “recession” that may have played a stronger role. Again, it’s just a theory.
Kasich says he wants to do it to “reward” Wells Academy for its academic performance. Even in high school, I was a political junkie. But not even I hoped that if we did really well on standardized test we’d be rewarded with getting to watch a speech most grown ups ignore. Reward the kids, Governor. Don’t punish them.
Here’s the real reason why I think Kasich wants to change the venue. He’s scared of that chamber. Last year, Governor Kasich gave his first State of the State address and it’s widely regarded as one of the worst speeches he may have ever delivered in his political career. Which was particularly bad because it was the one most Ohioans probably ever paid attention to that he gave, or one of the earliest ones. And it was his first and best opportunity to make the political case to Ohioans for SB 5, but he only spent roughly twenty second of a nearly two-hour long speech on it.
The speech Kasich delivered was a stream of his political consciousness, and it was depressing, lacking any optimism or any real details of any plan. His staff had to prepare a transcript after the fact because Kasich famously decided to “wing it.” We learned later he was saving that for his budgetary town hall, which was itself rather unusual because most Governors had used the State of the State as a means to present and make the case for his budget.
If you don’t believe me, you can watch the whole thing yourself (I’ll wait):
Governor Kasich’s biggest applause line was when he told protestors of SB 5 that they needed to “respect those who don’t always agree with them.” Seriously. That was the highlight.
Just as he tried to minimize the first State of the State, John Kasich is actively trying to run from that setting this year. He’s used to giving floor speeches in Congress or the State legislature. The closest he’s come before the State of the State is on the campaign stump. It’s not the same thing.
Kasich wears the traditional trappings of the State of the State like my kid trying to wear one of my business suits. It doesn’t fit him and makes him look diminished.
So thanks to House Democrats giving the votes necessary, the Ohio House was narrowly able to pass a resolution giving Governor Kasich his wish. Of all the things that Kasich has tried the past year, moving the State of the State was a step too far for 14 Ohio House Republicans, apparently. (Don’t be surprised if this is a sign of things to come after Issue 2’s crushing defeat and House Republicans approaching re-election vote this November.)
And John Kasich can have the pleasure of boring the heck out of a bunch of school kids. At least he’s giving them the benefit of a speech which will likely have copious use of the word “fracking.”