Why is it that when Governor Kasich starts speaking in the debates, one has an urge to head to the fridge and see if there are any snacks left over? He has a good legislative record – especially if you listen to Kasich – in both Washington and in his home state of Ohio. He’s a fiscal pragmatist who has helped balance federal budgets from key House committees, and has balanced state budgets as a sitting governor. His record on jobs is apparently quite good, even if a governor’s job is to let others – hopefully in the private sector – do the job creation without getting in their way.

So why is John Kasich so annoying? Could it be that his earnest anger comes off as whining? Incessant complaining that beats unbearably against one’s ears like the voice of a nagging parent? Perhaps his somewhat liberal social side is frustrated as a Republican. Especially as a Republican in 2016. And frustrated liberals can be very whiny.

Will he finally bow out? Soon? One assumes he knows his days are numbered. But Kasich really seems to have a need to vent, and what better place than in the race for the GOP nominee for president?

Ben Carson, does not whine. He makes the same joke about not getting enough time on the stage, and then in almost-too-painful-to-watch sotto voce style that was so compelling a few months ago, tries to show his grasp of foreign policy issues. Dr. Carson misses the point. It’s not what you have learned on the danger of an attack on the electrical grid, or a possible dirty bomb attack on the nation. It’s how you project both leadership and confidence.

A candidate’s understanding of the facts around any given issue, is just a starting point. You have to convince voters you are the candidate to lead the nation on any and all the relevant issues. Perhaps Carson’s problem is he is trying to overcome a perceived lack of experience in policy areas like terrorism. It may be that the good doctor should have followed his supporters’ advice and stayed true to his faith-based values in everything he says on the debate stage. And leave the quick command of the hard facts to candidates like Rubio and Cruz.

Because Ben Carson has slipped into a no man’s land of not being presidential like a Trump – like him or not – and not being effortlessly substantive the way Rubio and Cruz are. And Christie and Bush are, to be fair. So what course Carson plots will depend on a little soul searching. He should be careful how he exits this race. Ben Carson is a force for good – quite literally – and should not dilute that positive potential by hanging on for too long. Or by leaving suddenly and clumsily either. It’s a balancing act that matters more to him than to the other more politically experienced candidates.

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