Bob Dole: He, Reagan and Nixon Wouldn’t Have Made It In Today’s Republican Party (UPDATED)
Former Republican Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bob Dole has now articulated what many moderate Republicans and traditional conservatives have long said: neither he, nor Richard Nixon nor Ronald Reagan would make it in today’s Republican Party:
Dole said in his Fox News interview that he isn’t sure there would be a place for him and other big-time Republicans of his generation, like Presidents Reagan and Nixon, in the current GOP.
“Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly, Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it,” said Dole, who called himself a “mainstream conservative Republican.”
And, using his famous sarcasm, he had some choice words for the RNC as well:
“I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs, until New Year’s Day next year, and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas,” Dole said about the current state of his party.
Not that Dole absolves President Barack Obama:
The former majority leader also said that President Obama had squandered an opportunity to govern better by not reaching out more to lawmakers during his first term.
And he seems dismayed by the performance of the Senate:
“It seems almost unreal that we can’t get together on a budget, or legislation,” said Dole, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996. “We weren’t perfect by a long shot, but at least we got our work done.”
Doles comments merely put out into the open feelings many Americans feel about the current Republican Party, which seems to now be responsible mostly to the desires of talk show hosts and Tea Party members.
Any “givens” about politics moving in a certain direction using past examples are now inoperative.
In fact, pick the most extreme It Ain’t Gonna Happen response of the GOP, place a bet on it in Vegas and you can probably pay off the mortgage on your house.
The lingering question is: exactly what parts of the population will the current Republican Party use to make up for losing people who may feel the way Bob Dole does — people who may feel they’d rather stay home than vote for a party that seems to be directed by talk show hosts and Tea Party members? If the party is losing among emerging demographic groups and alienating those who may agree with Bob Dole where does it make up a)the loss and b)add new voters to its coalition?
Providing, that is, it wants to win.
More broadly, Dole’s comments will likely fall upon deaf ears inside the GOP itself. Although he was considered quite conservative during his time in office, the way the party has moved pretty far to his right since he left politics. Additionally, conservatives now view his 1996 defeat at the hands of Bill Clinton as proof for their (largely invalid) hypothesis that the GOP only wins when it nominates “conservative” candidates for President. Of course, the reality is that Clinton was likely unbeatable that year given his own popularity at the time and the state of the economy. Nonetheless, Dole has a point here. The GOP has become far too rigid in its ideology and essentially now acts in a manner that makes Congress nearly ungovernable. And I say that as someone who has never really been much of a Bob Dole fan.