The Next Commander-in-Chief

John Kasich

W.J. Astore

A reader wrote to ask my opinion on which presidential candidate would make the best commander-in-chief.  This is a speculative exercise, of course, but why not speculate? I’ve watched most of the debates and have a sense of the candidates, though of course I’ve never met them and have no direct experience with them.  (I once shook President Bill Clinton’s hand, and saw Hillary in the background, but that’s a story for another day.)  So let’s take the five remaining candidates in alphabetical order:

Hillary Clinton: Often wrong and too hawkish, which is a bad combination. She was wrong on the Iraq War, wrong on Libya, and unapologetic in her fondness for Henry Kissinger. Under Clinton, I see more wasteful military interventions.

Ted Cruz: Far too eager to use military force.  You’ll recall his posturing about “carpet bombing” and making the sand “glow” in the Middle East, apparently by using nuclear weapons.  The recent terrorist attacks in Belgium have him calling for a police state in U.S. neighborhoods where Muslim-Americans live.

John Kasich: Has experience working military matters while in Congress (18 years on the House Armed Services Committee).  Has executive experience as a governor.  Has had the temerity to criticize the Saudis for supporting radical elements in Islam.  Has opposed wasteful weapons systems (the B-2 and A-12, for example).  Speaks carefully and appears to be temperamentally suited to the job.

Bernie Sanders: He was right to oppose the Iraq War.  Thinks for himself.  Not a slave to neoconservative interventionism.  Yet he lacks experience dealing with the military and with foreign policy.  Has the capacity for growth.

Donald Trump: Lacks an understanding of the U.S. Constitution and his role and responsibilities as commander-in-chief.  Though he has shown a willingness to depart from orthodoxies, e.g. by criticizing the Iraq War and the idea of nation-building, Trump’s temperament is highly suspect.  His bombast amplified by his ignorance could make for a deadly combination.  Hysterical calls for medieval-like torture practices are especially disturbing.

Of the five major candidates, and with Sanders somewhat of a blank slate, I think John Kasich has the best potential — in the short-term — to be an effective commander-in-chief.  This does not mean that I support Kasich for president, for I object to several of his domestic policies.

Not exactly a “bracing view,” perhaps, but it’s my honest attempt to answer a reader’s question.  I do think Sanders has considerable potential to be an excellent commander-in-chief because he possesses moral courage.

Sadly, the odds of either Kasich or Sanders winning in November seem very long indeed.

8 thoughts on “The Next Commander-in-Chief

  1. “Sadly, the odds of either Kasich or Sanders winning in November seem very long indeed.”

    The late Joe Purcell (1923-1987) was Arkansas’s Lieutenant Governor from 1975-81, during the time Bill Clinton was the state’s governor. Joe Purcell was married to Helen (Hale) Purcell. Helen Purcell as Recorder of Maricopa County in Arizona was responsible for reducing the number of polling places in the state’s most highly-populated county from over 200 to 60, resulting in hours-long waiting in lines for Arizonans wishing to exercise their democratic rights.

    Depending on Hillary Clinton’s response to suspicions raised by this personal history, it might be premature to discount the Sanders campaign’s chances for winning the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton has a moral obligation to tell the American people if there was or wasn’t a behind closed doors (think Goldman Sachs speeches) agreement between her and Helen Purcell to suppress the vote in Arizona. Her response may well determine the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.


    1. Hadn’t heard this. Why suppress the vote when by all accounts she had the lead? Unless she’s like Nixon heading into the ’72 election. Strange.


      1. Clinton came out ahead due to vote-by-mail ballots where she held a much higher percentage than Sanders. Suppressing the votes of those who showed up at (greatly reduced number of) polling places hurt Sanders’ chance to win Arizona in a big way.


      2. Maricopa Recorder Helen Purcell was married to the late Phoenix City Attorney Joe R. Purcell, and not the late Arkansas Lt. Governor Joe Purcell. An amazing coincidence, but not the same woman. My apology.


  2. Lets also not forget Kasich’s pledge to reunite Pink Floyd If he gets elected President!. Too bad also that Hunter S. Thompson couldn’t be resurrected. He would’ve had a Field Day with this Crew…


  3. But his non-committal to the Defense of Marriage Act (Which at one time he did support, but hey, its a convenient flip flop) and considering that during his brief time in public service he served on the board of Goldman Sachs which went under during the ’07-’09 recession and then got a nice government bailout, while Kasich’s personal profile increased several times over which enabled him to then run for governor.

    Overall, this is an interesting blog. For balance, this is read alongside fellow dissidents Richard Spencer; Jared Taylor; and Paul Kersey. (for total balance on domestic issues, as experience shows, very few military people have the competence much less the clear authority to speak on domestic/non-military related issues.


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