Track of the Day: 'The Hobbit'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

At a rally today in Illinois, presidential long shot John Kasich compared his life to that of Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, paraphrasing Gandalf to say that things in life don’t happen by accident. But if the Ohio governor were like Baggins—nice and inoffensive, nobody's really sure why he’s still around or what role he’s playing—then which characters from the book would most fit the other presidential candidates?

To her opponents, Hillary Clinton seems like Beorn, taking on whatever form is most convenient for the moment. Bernie Sanders, his supporters might say, is like Bard the Bowman as he goes after the elite wealth-hoarder Smaug. Marco Rubio is Fíli, the young, promising future leader who is unceremoniously killed. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is Thorin, a bombastic, riches-obsessed guy who is somehow leading everyone. Ted Cruz, like Gollum, covets his (class) ring. And Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal are the trolls who were knocked off early.

Long after the next president is sworn in, Kasich will probably still be around, living to 130 years old or so before one day crossing the sea with the elves.

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