Jewish World Review March 29, 1999 /12 Nissan 5759
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Meanwhile, focus groups are being convened to talk over various issues, so that Mrs. Dole will know what her positions are going to be on those issues.
Anybody who has the money can take a plane to Rwanda and convene focus groups. Neither of these actions tells us anything about whether Elizabeth Dole would be good, bad or indifferent as a candidate or as a president or vice-president.
After spending decades in politics, holding positions ranging from a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission to cabinet positions as Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Labor, Elizabeth Dole has already had plenty of time in which to decide what her views are on national issues, without waiting to get her agenda from focus groups.
The curse of the Republicans has been their inability to stand for something and to articulate what they stand for. After losing two presidential elections in a row with hollow men, do they believe that what they need now is a hollow woman?
The fate of the Republican Party is far less important than the fate of this country. Unfortunately, if the Democrats control both Congress and the White House after the next election, that is virtually guaranteed to produce the kinds of economic and social disasters that dominated the 1970s. Perhaps worse, it guarantees that nothing will be done to reverse the declining standards of education and that liberal judges will be appointed to the courts to think up new reasons why criminals should be allowed to walk the streets.
The tragic irony in all this is that the views of the American people are much closer to those of the Republicans than those of the Democrats. The fact that the Democrats are in a position to recapture Congress and dominate Washington in the years ahead is due to the Republicans' ineptness in getting their message across and in failing to stick together politically.
When every single Democrat in the Senate voted for acquittal in the recent impeachment trial, while House Republicans and Senate Republicans were at loggerheads with one another, that tells you where the political savvy is.
Republicans have more people who would make good presidents than people who would make good candidates. With Democrats it is just the other way around.
The sudden emergence of Governor George W. Bush of Texas as the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination next year is one sign of the party's desperation for a winnable candidate. It may well be that Governor Bush would make both a good candidate and a good president, but usually there would be a number of people in the party of which that could be said and the primary elections would sort them out.
Today, Steve Forbes is the only heavyweight alternative to Governor Bush. Lamar Alexander is already being compared to Harold Stassen, who kept running for the Republican presidential nomination so many times that he became a national joke. It is also hard to see why Pat Buchanan is running, except out of habit.
Dan Quayle, fairly or unfairly, has become someone that people don't take seriously, even when he is right. He is still young enough to spend a few years building up a new reputation elsewhere, so that he could return as a stronger candidate later.
Steve Forbes has already established what he stands for and he now has the political experience to deal with the nuts and bolts of the primary elections, as well as with the media and other hazards of political life.
Governor Bush has not only established a highly respected record as chief executive of his state, he has surrounded himself with world-class advisers on foreign policy and military defense.
The Marines are only looking for a few good men and the Republicans seem to have just two at the moment. When we see how those two do going head to head, the picture will be clearer. But there is always the possibility that the Republicans will become too clever by half and want to put a woman on the ticket, regardless of her qualities, convictions or lack of convictions.
That would indeed be a doleful
03/23/99: Random thoughts