In Defense of the Underdog


Underdog, voiced by the great Wally Cox.

It’s only July of 2015 and already I’m disillusioned about the general election next November. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the idea of President Hillary. Though you could do a lot worse, it’s not my first choice.

Watching the Republican field implode used to be so much sport. Now it’s just pathetic. Really pathetic. I blame Donald Trump who is turning what in my opinion ought to be a reasoned, intellectual process into a circus sideshow best documented in the entertainment section rather than the political section of the news.

Mind you, I am not a low information voter. Neither am I any sort of expert in the art and science of elections. Plus, it’s early in the race, so I haven’t done a ton of homework on too many of the potential nominees in any party. So I reserve the right to modify my position based on new information I may or may not acquire in the course of the next sixteen months or so. Hell, I may just stay stupid just to see what it’s like.

Back in this post, I made the case for the candidate who would get my vote in the upcoming elections. I stand by that list which I will recreate here for those of you too busy (lazy) to read the original. For those of you who are neither, I’ll wait for you right here.

All done? Cool! Now that you’re back, you can skip the following bulleted list. (It’s for the sick, lame and lazy in my readership. You know who you are.)

  1. Possesses at least SOME charisma.
  2. Is willing to change her mind or position when presented with new facts. (See what I did there?)
  3. Has government or corporate executive experience. Check that. Has SUCCESSFUL government or corporate executive experience.
  4. Demonstrates willingness and ability to build consensus.
  5. Is reasonable.
  6. Treats other candidates with respect. Bonus points if it actually compliments its competitors. (It rubs the lotion on its Super PAC.)
  7. Puts Nation over party.

No one candidate in any party has made enough of an impression on me to satisfy my criteria. In their collective defense, it’s going to be extremely difficult for any candidate to rise above the current level of noise, particularly for any candidate who dares to be reasonable. But I’m still watching in my own semi-informed, but critical thinking way. For the moment, I’m going to jump ahead to the general election and make the case for at least my third criterion above.


THIS is optics, bitches!

And I’m also going to consider the optics of the presidency. <shudder> I hate the word “optics.” Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. But these days, optics in the political sense of the word matter greatly

I do think it’s time for a woman president. I just don’t think it ought to be Secretary Clinton. If (when) Clinton wins the nomination and the general, it will in my opinion usher in yet another eight years of politics and business as usual in DC. Secretary Clinton is well established in the Washington bureaucracy and I believe it unlikely that she will, because of experience, temperament and training conduct the Office of the Presidency with any innovation, any sense of urgency or any desire to really change the course of our nation. She’s too well entrenched in the existing systems of government. Washington today is what she knows and we all gravitate to that which we know best.

Now, the experience she brings is formidable and part of #3 is “SUCCESSFUL government or corporate executive experience.” I think successful government experience is one of the necessary tools that a candidate should have. And Secretary Clinton meets that standard.

But a potential President needs more than just an understanding of the federal bureaucracy. But how about the corporate angle?

Howzabout we form an administration that has both successful corporate and government experience? No one candidate is likely to do that, so that’s why I’m jumping to the general to propose that the Republicans nominate a Fiorina/Kasich ticket.

carly-johnNow before you dismiss me out of hand go read my opening few paragraphs again. You can’t possibly be too lazy to do that. Seriously.  You just can’t.

Carly Fiorina is an extraordinarily successful business woman having run tech giant Hewlett-Packard. From Wikipedia (granted not a bastion of absolute fact):

“Starting in 1980, Fiorina rose through the ranks to become an executive at AT&T and its equipment and technology spinoff, Lucent. As chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard (HP) from 1999 to 2005, she was the first woman to lead one of the top twenty U.S. companies.

In 2002, Fiorina undertook the biggest high-tech merger in history with rival computer company Compaq, which made HP the world’s largest personal computer manufacturer. HP gained market share following the merger and subsequently laid off 30,000 American workers. By the end of 2005, the merged company had more employees worldwide than they had separately before the merger.”

Optics? Check – First woman President. Successful business leader? Check. Job creator? Check. Consensus builder? Check. Government experience?


This is where current Ohio Governor John Kasich comes in.

Again from my old pal Wikipedia:

In 1982, Kasich ran for Congress in Ohio’s 12th District, based in Columbus, Ohio. He won the Republican primary with 83% of the vote, and defeated [the] incumbent Democrat … in the general election by a margin of 50%–47%. Kasich was re-elected eight times after 1982, winning at least 64% of the vote each time.

As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich was the lead architect of the 1997 balanced budget deal. This marked the first time the federal budget achieved balance since 1969 and ultimately led to a federal budget surplus. Kasich also chaired the congressional conference committee that overhauled welfare, requiring new work/training requirements into the system.

Dude knows how to win an election and balance a budget. He can also likely deliver the critical state of Ohio in the general election because:

[As Governor of the Buckeye State,] Kasich utilized a number of cost-saving reforms without raising taxes and signed the new balanced budget on June 30, 2011. The budget included the elimination of the estate tax and the continuation of a previously passed income tax cut for all Ohioans.

… As a result of Kasich’s budgeting efforts throughout his first term, Ohio’s rainy-day fund (or surplus) went from $0.89 to $1.5 billion today.

… Kasich has cut taxes in Ohio by a net total of more than $3 billion. This includes the income tax cut implemented in his first budget, the 10% income tax cut in his second budget, the 50% income tax cut for small businesses, and other tax reforms that included a quarter-percentage-point increase in the state sales tax.

During Kasich’s first term in office, 316,800 new jobs were created in the state of Ohio and the unemployment rate dropped from 9.4% to 5.1%

Successful government leader? Check – both State and Federal. Job creator? Check. Government experience? In spades. Optics?

Well, that’s where I have issues and it’s a relatively minor one. In spite of Governor Kasich’s record of success leading large government agencies, it’s my opinion that the optics (there’s that word again!) of a former Fox News anchorman as President presents a problem for me. Then again, Tony Snow went from Fox to the White House for a successful turn as Press Secretary, but that’s a different animal than the presidency itself.

So to recap: A potential Fiorina/Kasich ticket brings to a potential administration:

  • Successful corporate executive experience.
  • Successful government executive experience.
  • Ability to build consensus. (Who merges HP and Compaq without being able to do that?)
  • Possesses at least some charisma. (True. I remember Kasich from his days in the anchor chair.)
  • Optics, in this case, the inauguration of the first woman president.

Now I’m not low informed enough to think that there aren’t negatives about either Fiorina or Kasich. I know of a couple. From my perspective at this point in the election, the combination of these two success stories is worthy of consideration by a party that can’t find its collective butt with both hands and a flashlight.

My point? Kasich and Fiorina are not getting any traction. They’re two of many underdogs among the crowded Republican field. And I think that’s unfortunate because the collective experience of these two people is an attractive combination. Together on paper, they have a resume that I believe could serve this nation unusually well.

I’m not willing to say this is the only way to go and that no other candidate is worthy of my vote. I’m saying that my relatively superficial evaluation has led me here. I will probably change my mind at some point, and it’s my right to do that.

But today, right now, how about let’s have a look at the underdogs.


In Defense of the Underdog — 26 Comments

  1. I just read that Ted Cruz, from the floor of the Senate, accused Mitch McConnell of being a liar. A prevaricator he may well be, but what the heck has happened to any sense of dignity and decorum? I’m just disgusted with the whole kit and caboodle. (I’ve been wanting to use that expression. Now to find a reason to use “jiggery pokery”).

  2. Rubio doesn’t have Kasich’s budgetary experience, though he beats him in name recognition. Kasich’s weakness is that he’s been out of Congress awhile and probably doesn’t have the active contacts of a Marco Rubio. Then again, some would consider that a strength rather than a weakness.

  3. Obviously, I did. My takeaway is that your contention that she’s a fait acompli may be moot, given the two points I made in response. Whining about the Republican field didn’t hold that much interest for me. But not that you’ve asked, I like Carly Fiorina a lot. SHe would destroy Hillary in a one on one debate, and remove asinine “historical” nature of another first. Also open to hearing more from Kasich and Walker.

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