By Maggie Haberman | Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Bob Dole, the former Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, has never been fond of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. But in an interview Wednesday, Mr. Dole said that the party would suffer “cataclysmic” and “wholesale losses” if Mr. Cruz was the nominee, and that Donald J. Trump would fare better.
“I question his allegiance to the party,” Mr. Dole said of Mr. Cruz. “I don’t know how often you’ve heard him say the word ‘Republican’ — not very often.” Instead, Mr. Cruz uses the word “conservative,” Mr. Dole said, before offering up a different word for Mr. Cruz: “extremist.”
“I don’t know how he’s going to deal with Congress,” he said. “Nobody likes him.”
Well, it's certainly true that some of the Republican leadership in Washington doesn't like him, but given that Senator Cruz is either first or second in the opinion polls in Iowa, I'd say that somebody must like him.
But Mr. Dole said he thought Mr. Trump could “probably work with Congress, because he’s, you know, he’s got the right personality and he’s kind of a deal-maker.”
The remarks by Mr. Dole reflect wider unease with Mr. Cruz among members of the Republican establishment, but few leading members of the party have been as candid and cutting.
“If he’s the nominee, we’re going to have wholesale losses in Congress and state offices and governors and legislatures,” said Mr. Dole, who served in the House and Senate for 35 years and won the Iowa caucuses twice. He described Mr. Cruz as having falsely “convinced the Iowa voters that he’s kind of a mainstream conservative.”
Apparently the word "conservative" means something different in Washington than it does outside the Beltway. Perhaps the "mainstream" of conservatism is something different from what former Senator Dole believe it is, or ought to be. If there is anybody in Iowa who doesn't know and understand Senator Cruz's positions, it is because that person is willfully ignorant. Not only has Senator Cruz been running on his positions, not only does he have a campaign website which details his positions, pointing out the positive, but his opponents have been right there, telling the prospective caucus-goers what they say Mr Cruz believes, doing their best to accentuate the negative.
Now, I will be clear here: Senator Cruz is not my preferred candidate,¹ and I have previously expressed reservations about how effective a President Cruz would be at getting things done. But I also remember Senator Dole, one of the well-liked go-along-to-get-along Republicans, who was the 1996 Republican Presidential nominee, who got nothing done that the Democrats couldn't accept. Oh, they might have sniped along the edges, but good, collegial Senator Dole was well-liked and well-respected by everybody, nobody had a bad thing to say about him, and he led absolutely nobody to conservative positions or accomplishments. Newt Gingrich once referred to Mr Dole as the "tax collector for the welfare state," and, as if to prove that the Democrats respected Mr Dole, Tim Noah of the now-dying New Republic characterized it thus:
In 1985, shortly after Sen. Bob Dole, R.-Kan., became majority leader of the upper body, a little creep called Newt Gingrich publicly branded him "the tax collector for the welfare state."
Well, it wasn't Senator Dole who led the Republicans to the congressional majorities in the 1994 elections; it was that "little creep" who crafted the "Contract With America" and the coordinated campaigns which led to that result.
Mr Noah's article was from January of 2012, telling the reader that Mr Gingrich, then running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, "truly would be a catastrophically bad nominee for the GOP to choose." I have some trouble accepting advice from the Democrats concerning who would be a good or bad Republican nominee as being unbiased or genuine. And Mr Noah confirmed his respect for Mr Dole by concluding his article, "Oh, Bob. We miss you so."
Well, of course they do! And if the Democrats, Mr Noah at the very least, think so highly of former Senator Dole, then I would be inclined to give rather less respect for the Kansan's opinion.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.
¹ - I support the candidacy of Carly Fiorina, and have been a contributor to her campaign. If Senator Cruz is our nominee, I will vote for him without any reservations.