Who doesn't admire former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole? Wounded World War II veteran, part-time comedian (Dole once described a meeting of former presidents Carter, Ford and Nixon as "see no evil, hear no evil -- and evil"), former presidential candidate and all-around decent man, Dole was a part of government for much of his life.
Therein lies the problem for some who stay in politics and government so long that it is easy to lose perspective and think cutting deals is more important than winning the argument.
In a Memorial Day weekend interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," Dole called the inability of modern government to solve America's problems "almost unreal." He said while he was in the Senate, "We weren't perfect by a long shot, but at least we got our work done."
In the interview, Dole was critical of his Republican Party: "I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs until New Year's Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas."
He's right about positive agendas, but why is it always Republicans who are seen as the impediment to progress? Why aren't Democrats labeled obstructionists or chastised for advocating policies that lead to escalating debt?
Dole described former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as "brilliant in many respects" but then added he's "the kind of guy that can lead the revolution, but he can't lead after he succeeds."
Maybe not, but if Gingrich had not succeeded, Democrats would probably still control the House of Representatives and be unrestrained in pursuing increased spending, government redundancies and entitlement programs. But where are the leaders who should have succeeded Gingrich?
Here's the problem for Republicans. First, they assert values that seem to be in decline and advocate for a Constitution that no longer defines, much less controls, government. Faced with a nation of crumbling families, out-of-wedlock births, the loss of lives through abortion, demands for approval of alternate lifestyles and a greed and entitlement mentality that has driven the national debt to record highs, Republicans are finding it difficult to pull people back from the edge of an economic and moral cliff.
Second, Republicans have done a poor job of arguing their positions. They are still debating economic and moral philosophy, while much of the country focuses on self.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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