Tag Archives: Bob Dole

Not Your Father’s GOP…

Younger Americans don’t understand–probably cannot understand–how far the political pendulum has swung since 1980.

1980 was the year Ronald Reagan ran for President, and I ran for Congress. We were both Republicans, both excoriated as “too conservative.”

Today, Reagan would be too liberal for the “Freedom Caucus” and other far rightwing activists who have taken over the GOP in the intervening years. As for me, I haven’t changed my basic political philosophy at all (although I have changed my position on some issues after learning more, or examining accumulating evidence), and I’m now considered a wild-eyed liberal. At best.

Every once in a while, an old-time Republican decides to violate Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment (Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican), and publicly bemoan what has happened to a once-sane and responsible political party. Most recently, that person was Bob Dole. (I have a soft spot for Dole for a number of reasons, not least because his political action committee financially supported my campaign “back in the day.”)

In a recent interview on MSNBC, Dole bemoaned the current state of the Republican party, which he said had become “an extreme group on the right.” Dole harshly criticized Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, calling Trump “over the top” and saying that he “couldn’t understand” how people supported him.

Dole also opined that Ted Cruz is far too extreme, and not at all a traditional conservative. He criticized Cruz’ so-called Senate “achievements” of shutting down the government twice and calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) a liar on the Senate floor.

Dole, like many traditional and Reagan-era Republicans, represent an era that modern conservatives constantly idealize but is seriously disillusioned with the current extremism and ignorance of the Republican Party, which he’s said is “out of ideas.” Dole also said that he doubted Ronald Reagan would win the nomination if he ran in the current extremist climate of the Republican Party.

In the ultimate heresy, Dole also praised President Obama, calling him a “very good man.”

While saying that he probably wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton in a potential general election matchup with Trump or Cruz, Dole suggested that he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to vote for either of those Republican demagogues, saying with a laugh that he “might oversleep” on election day.

A good number of the remaining reasonable, disheartened Republicans are likely to oversleep on election day–or even vote Democratic.

After all, you don’t have to be excited about Hillary Clinton to recognize the gulf between competent and crazy.

Once Upon a Time

I just saw a report about a recent interview with Bob Dole, in which he reportedly said he could not have been elected in today’s Republican party.

Not much later, I opened a book I brought with me—It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein (the latter someone I used to regard in the 1980s as extremely conservative)—and read the following:

[H]owever awkward it may be for the traditional press and nonpartisan analysts to acknowledge, one of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlierideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges.

 Last night at dinner, the lovely Swiss couple at our table for the first time gingerly broached that “third rail” of conversational amity, politics. They spend four months of each year in south Florida, where their son lives, and it has become obvious during the course of the cruise that they travel extensively.

The dinner discussion was triggered by reports of the bridge that had collapsed in Washington State; they wondered why Americans resented paying taxes that are necessary—among other things—for the maintenance and repair of infrastructure. When we didn’t bristle or become defensive—we agreed that allowing bridges and highways to disintegrate was incomprehensible behavior—they shared their distress over what they see as the appalling rancor, partisanship and short-sightedness of the current Republican party.

I remember when most Republicans were fiscal conservatives and social liberals—when fiscal conservatism meant paying for the wars you fought, and a commitment to limited government meant–among other things–keeping the state out of your bedroom and your uterus.

The next time I hear some yahoo in a tri-corner hat insisting that he “wants his country back” (presumably from the black guy in the White House, and the gay activists and uppity women who think we’re all entitled to equal rights), I’m going to tell him (sorry, but it’s always a him) that I want my party back.

Someone ought to sue the people who currently call themselves Republicans for unauthorized use of the name.