Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor
In 1996 I remember following the presidential campaign closely and in the process getting a crash course on Bob Dole. Ever since then I have had a great deal of respect not only for Bob Dole, but also his wife Elizabeth and his running mate, Jack Kemp. Nothing in the last 25 years has changed that, not even Dole’s support for Trump out of party loyalty well into his 90s- which to be fair, he later regretted. But hey, when I’m in my 90s I am going to expect a few mulligans here and there for stupid things I might say when a robo-journalist is around and assures me we are just having beers, off the record.
During that crash course Bob, Jack, and Liddy struck me as principled, intelligent, well-informed and pragmatic people with a long history of service to our country unlike the chicken-hawk authoritarians running today’s GOP (Grabbing Our Pussy) party, who openly aspire to rule and rob us rather than serve us. The party, however flawed it may have been in the past, however hard it may be to imagine, wasn’t always primarily a giant grift machine like it is now, and it is worth remembering that. Today we should spend some time reflecting on what just happened, and the legacy of this patriot who is no longer with us.
Dole’s death is not simply the passing on of a mortal soul from a physical body after 98 years. There’s much more to see here. The event is the demise of the last presidential general election candidate representing Your Dad’s Republican Party. That particular entity is long since dead. 1996 will for all time be the last presidential year that the party was actually more of a force for good in the world than evil. Where its leaders cared more about the country than the party. Where a Dole victory in 1996 wouldn’t have likely resulted in the death and destruction of the Bush and Trump years.
Caveats are in order. Sure, the Democratic Party has been pretty pathetic and deserved to get their asses beaten raw. Yes, John McCain too was a war hero, patriot, and decent human who represented Grabbing Our Pussy in the 2008 general election. But he made the epically unforgivable mistake of hiring Sarah Palin to be his running mate, a move so damaging that our democracy may not survive it. It wasn’t entirely McCain’s fault. The rabid right-wing base had already begun frothing at the mouth and he attempted to throw them some red meat in the form of Palin as a high-risk, high-reward play to win an obviously losing hand. Regardless, by 2008 this was no longer Your Dad’s Republican Party, and the good man John McCain was nowhere near being in control anyway. The gambit didn’t pay off in his campaign against that Kenyan-born muslim named Obama, and it permanently tarnished his legacy. There is a direct lineage between a good man’s choice of Sarah Palin, and the impending death of democracy.
All of this is no coincidence if you study the landscape of 1996 and what made it so special. America was cruising with Clinton at the helm after 4 years of general peace and prosperity and a balanced budget. Newt Gingrich and his proudly touted Republican Freshman Class of 1994, the blowjob impeachment (despite his own un-Christian extramarital blowjobs), Rush Limbaugh, and new propaganda outlet Faux News were all wound up to explode onto the scene just as the Dole/Kemp ticket got walloped. The losers learned all the wrong lessons from that defeat. Hypocrites were poised to begin taking over Grabbing Our Pussy as they, for the first time since Nixon, outnumbered the good guys in their tent. They were perfectly configured to shamelessly steal the White House in 2000 and that marked the death knell. By no coincidence the party’s unique cocktail of incompetence and corruption would bring us 9/11, two failed and bloody wars costing $5 trillion, the 2008 financial crisis, multiple recessions, collusion with US enemies to win elections, the worst pandemic in 100 years, racism-fueled rioting and violence both physical and emotional, the pandemic, corporate fraud, and the most unchecked years of environmental destruction in human history. Grabbing Our Pussy leadership is actually impressive for its level of American carnage by bad hombres.
But it was not always thus. Back to Bob Dole. He was a war hero who suffered permanent physical damage fighting the Nazis and courageously attempting to rescue a brother in arms. He was a public servant his entire adult life in the best sense of the word, winning subsequently higher offices and positions and power through working his way through the system instead of seeking personal enrichment and demagoguery. He definitely wasn’t perfect. But Dole was loyal to the Constitution, and earned the respect of those across the aisle and within his party alike. He was smart. He was a patriot. As was possible in Your Dad’s Republican Party, he would dine with Democrats in Washington and compromise pragmatically.
We may never get another Dole. More sadly, we may never get back Your Dad’s Republican Party. Please consider this your eulogy for both.