John Kasich Flunks A Competence Requirement: If You Can’t Think And Communicate Clearly, You Shouldn’t Be President

“We must be more forceful in the battle of ideas. U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate
them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. And it should focus on four critical targets: the Middle East, China, Iran, and Russia.”

Poor John Kasich. The Ohio governor is by experience, practical political views and demonstrated executive skills among the most qualified and able of all the Presidential candidates. Nonetheless, he is a lazy communicator and a clumsy one, and in a job where words and persuasion matter as much as any other tool of leadership, he repeatedly reveals himself to be untrustworthy. The above passage, from Kasich’s foreign policy speech this week, exemplifies this.

A President cannot say that he wants an agency that will promote Judeo-Christian values, because it will be heard, and fairly so, as an effort to promote some religions over others, something the United States government may not do, and may not even appear to want to do. Worse, Kasich chose the exact moment when his words were guaranteed to be interpreted in the worst light possible by Democrats and the news media, as the nation was immersed in an a debate about screening Syrian refugees that was being elevated to dueling hysterias by both the left and the right. Sure enough, I just heard CNN’s Michael Smerconish compare Kasich’s proposal to ISIS-style forced conversion.

Nice job, John.

What he wants to promote, and what the United States best promotes by its own success, are democratic values. Religion has no place in the discussion. There is no way a government or President can extol “Judeo-Christian” anything without appearing to endorse one faith over another. Moreover, “Judeo-Christian values” are not synonymous with “democratic values,” especially “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association.”  The principles articulated in the founding documents came from a smorgasbord of philosophers and cultures; attributing them all to Judeo-Christian traditions is a soft version of religious propaganda. It is also historically wrong.

Since Kasich has a well-established pattern of mushy communication, we can’t even be sure that he isn’t proposing a religion-based propaganda agency. After all, if that isn’t what he’s talking about, someone needs to explain to him that promoting democracy is what lots of federal agencies do already at great cost, like the U.S. Agency for International Development and Radio Liberty. Kasich is now “walking back” his verbiage, but as Kasich himself would say (five times in the last debate—drives me nuts) “You know what?” What matters is what you say the first time. If your ethics alarms didn’t ring when you wrote, or read if someone else wrote it, “I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values,” then I can’t trust you, either because you are stupid, careless, tone, or want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy.

 Indeed, I can’t be sure that Kasich wasn’t  intentionally pandering to the religious conservative bloc by suggesting specific faith-promoting Federal power.  The kind of  agency Kasich described—who knows what he really had in mind—under a President Cruz or Huckabee ( or Bush? Or Kasich?) could easily mutate into a Ministry of Truth, and the responsible reaction of anyone who believes in the Constitution and American values is…

23 thoughts on “John Kasich Flunks A Competence Requirement: If You Can’t Think And Communicate Clearly, You Shouldn’t Be President

    • Ugh. The stupidest conclusion to the stupidest movie:

      How will we kill this 40 foot tall vicious predator? Let’s release *another* 40 foot tall vicious predator to fight it!

      Ok!

      Alright the 40 foot tall vicious predator we released just won the battle, so what do we do about *this* 40 foot tall vicious predator?

      Uh….

      Director: don’t worry guys, we’re gonna deus ex machina the hell out of this movie.

      Oh ok!

      • Loved it. Te T-Rex is the hero of both 1 and 4. Plus the plucky little raptor.
        It was basically the same theory as the US policy of encouraging Iran and Iraq to fight it out, with us supporting Iraq.

        Come to think of it, that didn’t work out so well either.

        SO their solution to the mutant monster problem was dumb…moral luck took over. Lots of stupid plans work, after all.

        • What?! That’s too much faith that the movie had some deeper meaning outside of a James Cameron-esque assembly of the Left’s favorite strawman villains.

          Whoever won between Iran and Iraq wasn’t going to glance a wayward eye our direction and think “ah ha! You’re next for dinner!”

          But yes, I will concur: when facing an existential crisis, if one has only one immediate option available, regardless of the apparent recklessness of that option, if it buys time, do it.

          • As in the “cross the streams” plan in Ghostbusters, or even Chamberlain’s bayonnett charge on Little Round Top. After all, Chamberlain didn’t know, as we do now, that the Grays were also out of ammunition.

          • 1. Oh, you can’t see JW as political. Besides, billionaires, mad scientists and military contracters are such fun villains. I just did an actuary ethics program where the fools that insured the park were the villains. “Wait—you have air raid sirens? WHY DO YOU HAVE AIR RAID SIRENS if the flying carnivorous dinosaurs will never get loose?”

            2. Many would argue that’s EXACTLY what both Iraq and Iran did !

            3. And don’t forget, the T-Rex was a “normal” dinosaur, after dominance and meals, not a maladjusted “killing machine” like the Dominus.It was still the better bet. Desperate plan, crazy plan, and only moral luck; a biggest damn Mosasaur you ever saw intervention, saved the day.

          • I almost take it back.

            I almost promoted Mockingjay to the top of the Friggin Stupidest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list…but then I had to coax down my cognitive dissonance scale and realize it’s only because I recently subjected myself to that awful travesty that it feels high on my list of utter hollywood drivel.

            But, have no doubt, it’s near the top of the list.

            Awful. Absolutely awful.

            Can Hollywood get out of it’s “let’s make every American cynical and distrustful of everyone” rut? Please?

            Can I see one movie where I can root for the “good guys” and not be shown in the end the good guys are pretty much as bad as the bad guys if their only redeeming quality is that they are slightly less bad than the bad guys?

            Come on…

            I almost considered beginning my blog on movie reviews but decided I’m cynical enough.

            • As my sister and wife insisted “…don’t read too much into it, it’s a movie targetted towards teenagers with angst…or some nonsense like that.”

              I replied: “Braveheart is a movie for teenagers…try that on for size.”

              The response: “What??? Braveheart for teenagers? You’re crazy!”

              To which I answered: “at least Braveheart doesn’t have the so-called good guys cluster bombing about 200 children….targetted to teenagers…sigh…”

              Ugh…the message it teaches to poor mold-able minds is precisely why no teenager should watch it.

  1. The problem is that the Republican presidential candidates need to be perfect communicators lest their words be distorted, while Democrat presidential candidates can say anything they want.

      • Have you been alive in America for the last 20 years? Or even part of the last 20 years. I’m actually not complaining (much) because at least some politicians are being held accountable for their stupid shit. It would be nicer if all of them were.

      • How about Romney’s “binders full of Women” comment? Clumsy, perhaps. But this somehow got spun into being a major gaffe that showed sexism. Meanwhile Bernie Sanders can say climate change is responsible for terrorism and most of the media just nod. Admittedly, this may be in part because nobody takes Sanders seriously. But when somebody with Sanders’ poll numbers of the Republican side says something equally stupid it gets covered.

  2. Personally, I think Kasich has a point. This is what we did with Radio Free Europe for decades. Why not now? And why should we be restricted in passing along the message of the Gospels? It may be the single most powerful weapon possible against Islam. There’s a reason why, even in the most “moderate” Moslem nations that the prohibitions on other faiths are severe to the point of being pathological. Islam can’t compete in the free arena of ideas and the imams damn well know it. Let’s be their worst nightmare. They’re already dedicated to being ours.

  3. I think Kasich knew exactly what he was saying. “Judeo-Christian values” is a dog-whistle to the religious right, and he was trying to court them away from Carson. See SMP’s comment above.

  4. He’s not wrong about where modern democratic ideals came from, including freedom of religion, association, and speech. And tolerance, generally. And the sanctity of life, and personal freedom and responsibility. These principles didn’t appear hundreds of years ago out of some imaginary secular past. Most of civilization seemed content without them for thousands of years.

    Modern ideals have been refined and purged of their religious trappings (much like universities such as Yale have), but it’s a bit of revisionist history to deny their historical origin in Christian thought. Kasich is accurate that these are, at root, Judeo-Christian values. He is confusing and polarizing, in that current society has universalized and claimed those values as their own, and made modifications. The very word “Christian” is now ghettoized to refer solely to personal and uniquely Christian morality, and not the broader principles of the Bible that have been assumed by the entire West and most of the world and reflected by our justice systems, laws, and general public moral standards. When Kasich says he wants to “promote Judeo-Christian values” it’s going to be perceived as enforcing things like celibacy before marriage or personal belief in Jesus, however unlikely it is that that’s what he meant.

    (All that said, Muslims, radical or not, could not care less about our secular ideals. It probably would be more effective to go Steven Mark Pilling’s route and give them a second Diety option.)

    • I think it’s sloppy to attribute what we call Freedom of Speech to any religious source, as opposed to individuals who may have espoused or been raised in certain religions. There is no freedom of speech tradition in any religion where blasphemy incurs official punishment, for example. You can’t say that Freedom of Speech as a concept or tradition is religious. Ancient Greek philosophers give more support for Freedom of Speech than Judaism: if you can’t say the name of God, for example, you don’t have Freedom of Speech. If you can’t say, “This religion sucks,” you don’t have Freedom of Speech.
      A Jesus quote absurdly cited for the false proposition that Jesus approved of Freedom of Speech is the Bible quote, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. He is talking about Truth as an authority —God—defines it. The quote could be made by Big Brother. Freedom of Speech also implies the freedom to say what an authority thinks is NOT the truth.

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