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by
Rick Moran

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May 26, 2013 - 10:36 am

Former Kansas senator and 1996 GOP candidate for President Bob Dole echoes a complaint from a lot of 1980′s era Republicans; the party has lurched too far to the right.

That the Republican party is more conservative today than it was 30 years ago is beyond dispute. Some might even argue that conservatism itself has been redefined to become far less inclusive, open minded, and tolerant than it was in Dole’s days as well.

But I think what Dole is really talking about is that today’s Republicans are simply too ideological; rigid, unyielding, and allowing passion to govern their intellects rather than logic and reason.

Is this a reaction to what has happened to the Democrats in the same period of time? I don’t doubt that much the same can be said of the other party. But Dole appears more concerned about the tone and temperament coming from his former colleagues in the Senate than with ideological changes

The Hill:

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” if the Senate was broken, Dole responded that “it is bent pretty badly.”

“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.”

Dole came back to the Senate last December to support a United Nations treaty to bar discrimination against people with disabilities, which failed after a vast majority of Republicans declined to support it.

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.”

“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.

Reagan was the most ideological president in history up to that time. But his geniality and heartfelt passion for America — along with a pragmatic streak that allowed him to work with the Democratic majority in Tip O’Neill’s House to advance some of the most significant legislation of the 20th century — made him a winning politician, one of the most successful in American history.

How would those strengths play in today’s GOP? I think Dole and other critics are wrong to suggest that Reagan couldn’t have made it in the Republican party today. His gifts as a politician would have transcended any disagreements about policy that might have hurt him with many on the right today — just as they did in his own time. In fact, Reagan was never able to satisfy the right on almost anything and ended up hugely disappointing them when he began to deal with Soviet leader Gorbachev, passed  massive tax increases in 1982 and 1984,  signed off on immigration reform in 1986, and appointed less than conservative cabinet members in his second term.

Reagan would have done very well in any election from 1976 until today. But would his popularity have survived in the internet era? I think his opponents on the right would have been better organized and had a louder megaphone to amplify his weaknesses. But it’s hard to see him failing in any realistic political context.

Dole and Nixon are a different story. Nixon wouldn’t have been able to smell the presidency if he had run in 2012. He despised conservatives and proved it with his actions, creating two of the most problematic federal agencies in Washington; EPA and OSHA. As for Dole, he was a genuine conservative but far too much the compromiser for today’s fire breathers on the right. But Dole could play the partisan hatchet man with the best of them, as he proved running as Ford’s Veep in 1976. His tart tongue and acerbic wit would have won him many admirers in today’s Republican party. But it is doubtful he would have risen as high as he did, being elected Majority Leader when the GOP took control of the Senate in 1995.

There are many Reagan era Republicans who look with scorn on today’s GOP and the right wing takeover of the party. But the essence of America is change, and political parties are not immune. For better or worse, the Republican party is a different beast today than it was then. And the men and women who are most successful in the party understand the lay of the land and adjust to circumstances — just like politicians have been doing since the beginning of the republic.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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Top Rated Comments   
I think a great deal of the ideological inflexibility you see out of the conservatives these days has to do with the lessons learned in the days of Nixon and Reagan. Both worked with Democrats to achieve compromises. Both were betrayed. Now the Democrats want to keep playing the same game, promising things we want in exchange for things they want (c.f. immigration reform). When we say, in light of previous Democrats failing to live up to their end of the bargain, that we want our things first we're labeled at extremists and unwilling to compromise. I think Dole, and quite a few in the middle, need to realize that doing nothing isn't always the worst course of action.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Stupid comment. Poor Bob has absorbed the Washington CW about conservatism. Interesting though how nobody points out that no democrat from the 70s or 80s could survive in today's Democrat Party. That's the REAL shift and scandal. Does anbody remember that Louisiana democrat John Breaux proposed pretty much the Paul Ryan budget 30 years ago? Today Ryan's budget -- as mainstream and sober as it gets -- is equated with wheeling grandma off a cliff. Or does it seem odd to Dole that democrats now feel safe to openly denounce the 2nd Amendment (which Hubert Humphrey celebrated)? No, in fact the Republican party has morphed to the Left; it's the democrats who have radicalized. But we never talk about that in the polite circles of the GOP. Pathetic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bob Dole's problem was that he himself didn't seem to know why he should be president. I was willing to vote for the man---despite his having been Nixon's hatchetman in Congress during Watergate---if he could give me one articulated reason why he should. He never did; it was always, "I'm Bob Dole, it's my turn, I'm next in line, and, yeah, the pen is because I was wounded in WWII." Sort of reminiscent of McCain throwing the 2008 election by running a campaign that said, "I'm John McCain, it's my turn, I'm next in line, and, yeah, I can't raise my arms because I was wounded while a POW."

Neither of these palookas ran like they wanted to win; they both put on a roommate act with their opponents and took a dive for the short money.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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The problem is that the GOP has been migrating left over the years and the Conservatives who still believe in the Constitution and limited government seem to be moving to the right.

The mainline GOP has been moving along with the Democrats toward larger and more powerful central government. The Republicans do it in the name of security and "compassion." The Democrats smile at the dupes and play along knowing that in the end, big government will mean one party rule for them. It's hard to say if the RINOs have figured this out or if they prefer licking the feet of the Democrats hoping to keep their jobs in the new order.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think a great deal of the ideological inflexibility you see out of the conservatives these days has to do with the lessons learned in the days of Nixon and Reagan. Both worked with Democrats to achieve compromises. Both were betrayed. Now the Democrats want to keep playing the same game, promising things we want in exchange for things they want (c.f. immigration reform). When we say, in light of previous Democrats failing to live up to their end of the bargain, that we want our things first we're labeled at extremists and unwilling to compromise. I think Dole, and quite a few in the middle, need to realize that doing nothing isn't always the worst course of action.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Exactly so, only continued right up through Bush II. Republicans ALWAYS seem to compromise with Democrats only to find the Dems stab them in the back and renege on their part of the deal. Then the Democrats start the process over again with the same results. The Republicans maybe figure it out for a brief time but soon enough they forget and the cycle begins again.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Reagan would be god in today's GOP.
Nixon would trail Obama in his Tricky Dick antics.
Dole? Anything to do with pineapples?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

I liked Dole, but the notion of him comparing himself to Reagan is a bit laughable.

And Reagan was more ideological than Jackson? Jefferson? FDR? LBJ?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Moran needs to change his party affiliation....if he hasn't already.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If the political spectrum were a fixed length line running right and left then, to someone on the far left, everybody is either where they are or to the right of them. For many of us on the far right, everyone else is either with us or to the left of us. Hopefully, we all understand that the world is not that simple.

Nonetheless, it is pretty hard to compromise between right and wrong. It is difficult to grow up in a world that only offers you choices between bad and worse. Currently, we live in a world that progressivism has wrought.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Nonetheless, it is pretty hard to compromise between right and wrong!"

Amen to that, CP! But for the Establishment Republicans, right and truth are not the goals; compromise, collegiality and maintaining your seat at the table (and on the B list) are the keys to tenure in Washington. That's right, John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins and Mitch McConnell . . . . . . .and Rick Moran!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Stupid comment. Poor Bob has absorbed the Washington CW about conservatism. Interesting though how nobody points out that no democrat from the 70s or 80s could survive in today's Democrat Party. That's the REAL shift and scandal. Does anbody remember that Louisiana democrat John Breaux proposed pretty much the Paul Ryan budget 30 years ago? Today Ryan's budget -- as mainstream and sober as it gets -- is equated with wheeling grandma off a cliff. Or does it seem odd to Dole that democrats now feel safe to openly denounce the 2nd Amendment (which Hubert Humphrey celebrated)? No, in fact the Republican party has morphed to the Left; it's the democrats who have radicalized. But we never talk about that in the polite circles of the GOP. Pathetic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bob dole, you are no Reagan. You are not even a Nixon. Even the Senate got to be better after you left. You were certainly a mistake as the Republican nominee for President. Reagan and Nixon both won the Presidency. You got stomped. So, don't try to put yourself in their league, because you are just a garden-variety professional politician.

And no, Dole was never a mainstream Conservative. He was known, even during his run for the Presidency, as just between the moderates and the Conservatives. If I wanted to take the time, I could provide links to numerous articles stating that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bob Dole's problem was that he himself didn't seem to know why he should be president. I was willing to vote for the man---despite his having been Nixon's hatchetman in Congress during Watergate---if he could give me one articulated reason why he should. He never did; it was always, "I'm Bob Dole, it's my turn, I'm next in line, and, yeah, the pen is because I was wounded in WWII." Sort of reminiscent of McCain throwing the 2008 election by running a campaign that said, "I'm John McCain, it's my turn, I'm next in line, and, yeah, I can't raise my arms because I was wounded while a POW."

Neither of these palookas ran like they wanted to win; they both put on a roommate act with their opponents and took a dive for the short money.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Followed by "I'm Mitt Romney, I'm a businessman and it's my turn!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ah yes, the old "these Republicans are to extreme even for Reagan" nonsense. We'd love to have Reagan these days, with a Republican House. He had to deal with a solidly Democratic House and a sometimes Democratic Senate.

How about "JFK couldn't make it in today's Democratic Party?" He was staunchly anti-communist and now marxists have thoroughly taken over that party.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Exactly the point.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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