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Bob Dole, Still Alive And A Lot Wiser Than His Fellow Republicans

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Bob Dole, Still Alive And A Lot Wiser Than His Fellow Republicans


Twitter can be so comical and so heartless, all at once.

When Bob Dole began trending this week, the wisecracks began to roll.

“Oh no … did he die? Worse — he endorsed Jeb!”

“Bob Dole endorses Viagra AND Jeb Bush! Just saying!”

“When I saw Bob Dole trending, I was shocked to find out it wasn’t because he died, but rather because Jeb’s campaign has.”

Yes, the former U.S. senator, representative, vice presidential and presidential candidate is quite with us at 92. And, God willing, Dole will be around at this time next year possibly to see his wishes for Jeb Bush reach fruition.

“I think he’s the most qualified,” Dole said, explaining why he endorsed Bush for the GOP nomination. “We need somebody with experience.”

A good portion of the GOP candidates either weren’t born or were barely walking when Dole first entered Congress in 1960. Increasingly frail, Dole is hardly a wheeler dealer in the Republican Party anymore.

Yet despite his age, Dole just might be more in touch with his party’s broader base, with American voters overall, than the candidates 30 or 40 years younger. Tweet that, #whoseanoldfartnow.

Dole has a point. And it’s one we better hope others come around to. Repetition eventually does work. And it can’t be repeated often enough that a Trump presidency would bankrupt the country and throw Constitutional protections into the gutter.

It won’t come to that. The tenor and tone of the GOP campaigns is beginning to turn ever so slightly toward substance, and the candidates’ positions and grasp of deeper geopolitical and economic conditions are coming under more scrutiny.

The Milwaukee debate is an example. Just about all the candidates got zinged somehow, either by context or outright error, once the fact-checking was done. Real conversations about taxes, world leaders, banking regulations and trade agreements will do that to the unprepared, unserious candidates.

It was more proof that the glittery candidates can only stand behind their drummed-up celebrity for so long. The gilding is starting to fade. Trump, at the forefront of the charlatans, is repeatedly being shown up for great bluster but complete incompetence.

He’s perhaps best known for his plan to round up immigrant families and send them back across the border, like the horribly named Operation Wetback of the 1950s. Lately, he’s made waves also for insisting that if the U.S. is to become more competitive globally, wages need to be lowered.

Ben Carson is much like Trump but quieter, also running on an interesting back story but not much more. His penchant for stretching the truth about that background — which isn’t even necessary given his career as a neurosurgeon — continues to trip him up.

In contrast, Bush’s biggest problems have been a burdensome family lineage that he can’t do anything about, and not being a shiny enough penny in the shadow of the gaudier candidates.

When he tried to pump up the energy, he got into a juvenile tiff with Sen. Marco Rubio. Bush’s petty remarks were patently inauthentic, as if coached into him by an image consultant hired to give him more edge and bite.

Bush is not a pit bull. He’s more like Dole: old-school in reason and tone, given more to common sense, not flamboyant rhetoric.

These are qualities little valued in his party anymore. The most conspicuous homage that remains to Dole’s legacy, in fact, is on the campus of the University of Kansas. The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics promotes bipartisanship and public service, exactly what the country needs.

Dole realizes that anyone who has held political office is not the enemy. Politicians who can’t compromise, who conceive their duty as unswerving ideological purity, are responsible for the congressional stalemates that have held up the federal budget and failed to pass needed reforms on a host of issues.

Republicans are falling for candidates that blare their love of Christmas, their humble origins, their disdain for immigrants who don’t speak English and their supposed defiance of Wall Street. Primary voters need to wake up. If they do, a more reasonable candidate like Bush might still have a chance at the nomination.

Dole noted that he likes just about all of the GOP candidates. Then, he whispered, “except Cruz,” as an aside, but didn’t elaborate.

It’s classic Bob Dole, coyly polite but telling it like it is.

(Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via e-mail at msanchez@kcstar.com.) (c) 2015, THE KANSAS CITY STAR. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Photo by Civil Rights via Flickr

Mary Sanchez

Mary Sanchez has spent years covering immigration, schools, and other volatile beats for The Kansas City Star. She is now an editorial columnist for the Star, where she continues to offer insightful commentary on immigration, culture, and politics.

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  1. @HawaiianTater November 13, 2015

    Stop giving Republicans good advice. We don’t want them to nominate a “more reasonable candidate”, ya dig?

    1. Kemosahbee November 15, 2015

      Well I guess there may be a ‘more reasonable’ candidate on the sliding scale – but none are reasonable. I’m more ‘fearful’ of an ill informed voting populace.

      1. @HawaiianTater November 15, 2015

        Yeah, you and me both.

        What’s funny about that sliding scale is that when you look at the “most reasonable” of the GOP candidates, even they are bat guano insane. It’s hilarious and terrifying all at the same time.

        1. Kemosahbee November 15, 2015

          and they’d swear on the bible they’re doing the work and will of God and the American people. Terrifying indeed.

          1. @HawaiianTater November 15, 2015

            There are two kinds. The first kind is too stupid to understand what is going on and has been duped into believing they are doing God’s work. The second kind, which is infinitely more terrifying, are the ones who absolutely know what is going on and are doing it on purpose. They use the Jesus angle to dupe people into voting against their own interests by using the Christian dog whistle and scaring the base voters into thinking Dems are evil.

          2. Kemosahbee November 15, 2015

            I always knew these TV preachers were hucksters but I wasn’t really versed in the idea of the ‘Prosperity Gospel’. A segment on John Oliver’s show was very illuminating – the idea that your wealth or prosperity was indicative of God’s favor. The preachers would tell their faithful to send in money or ‘plant the seed’ for their (the faithful) future prosperity because if they give they will get in return 10 fold or whatever. All of a sudden the appeal of Trump to these dolts makes sense…

          3. @HawaiianTater November 15, 2015

            “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption”

            Yes, John Oliver is brilliant. I’m always excited for Sunday nights for every new ep. Prosperity gospel… ya know, there is a part of me that thinks if people are stupid enough to give away their money like that, they deserve to be conned. It’s just a little part but it’s there. What should happen is prosecution. People go to jail all the time for fraud but for some reason, because it’s “religion”, the con men get a pass.

          4. Kemosahbee November 16, 2015

            lol! Yup – He’s great. Loved the starting his own church thing and all the legwork they did with communicating with that ‘Ministry’! At times I think he’s (and his writers et al) are more cutting than Stewart was on TDS. Great stuff!

          5. @HawaiianTater November 16, 2015

            When people start sending you semen in the mail, it’s time to stop what you are doing. LMAO

  2. Otto Greif November 13, 2015

    Jeb’s problem is that he’s clueless and out of touch.

    1. TZToronto November 14, 2015


  3. Otto Greif November 13, 2015

    It’s really nice of liberal Mary Sanchez to explain what Republicans need to do to win.

  4. TZToronto November 14, 2015

    Amazing! You and a whole bunch of progressives agree on something! Who’d’a thunk it?

  5. CrankyToo November 15, 2015

    “Dole noted that he likes just about all of the GOP candidates.”

    Bob Dole is one of only a fistful of Republican statesmen still above ground. A rare bird, indeed. But if he likes “just about all of the GOP candidates”, this guy is most certainly in his dotage. Change his diaper, powder his bottom, give him a kiss and put him to bed.

  6. 1standlastword November 15, 2015

    ““I think he’s the most qualified,” [To finish the job of destruction his brother started] Dole said, explaining why he endorsed Bush for the GOP nomination.

    “We need somebody with experience.”[ who can enrich the rich and puck the middle class, working class hard enough to finish it]


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