Former senator and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole had some harsh words for his political party recently. In a Fox News Sunday interview, Chris Wallace asked, “You describe the GOP of your generation as Eisenhower Republicans, moderate Republicans. Could people like Bob Dole, even Ronald Reagan—could you make it in today’s Republican party?” Dole replied, “I doubt it. Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, ’cause he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.”
Left-wing commentators, sensing an opportunity, swooped in to feign sorrow about the state of their political opponents. The problem, argued the New York Times editorial page, is not simply that the GOP has shifted rightward; the party is no longer capable of constructive governance. A “furiously oppositional Republican party” has “mainstream conservatives like Mr. Dole and Senator John McCain shaking their heads in disgust.” Republicans “want to dismantle government, using whatever crowbar happens to be handy, and they don’t particularly care what traditions of mutual respect get smashed at the same time.”
Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, blogger Ezra Klein argued, “Over the last few years, the Republican party has been retreating from policy ground they once held and salting the earth after them. This has coincided with, and perhaps even been driven by, the Democratic party pushing into policy positions they once rejected as overly conservative.”
Is the left-wing accurately analyzing the problems of the right-wing? For that matter, does Bob Dole understand his own party?