Paul Greenberg

Whatever advantages appealing to the base of the party may have in the primaries, that approach tends to fade as summer gives way to fall. Partisan rants give way to more thoughtful appeals to the country as a whole.

The campaign for the Republican presidential nomination next year is turning into a competition to determine who can sound more like Ronald Reagan. But the next president may be the one who can capture the confidence of the broad middle ground of American politics rather than just its starboard side. A more appealing model for Republicans to follow in their search for a winning candidate in 2012 might be Dwight Eisenhower, who sought to unite the country at a difficult time rather than further divide it.

The defining personal characteristic of both those candidates, Reagan and Eisenhower, was their good will. In memory they always seem to be smiling. Maybe because they were. Principle doesn't have to be strident to be effective. Quite the contrary. Good will remains the most efficient force in politics. As it is in life.

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At last Bill Clinton has found an ambition higher than any political one. Rising above all the globaloney at the annual economic conference at Davos in Switzerland, he said his goal for the next decade was to ... become a grandfather.

Well, sure. Can anyone remember anything that was said at this year's convocation of the gods and gurus at Davos? Or at any year's, for that matter. But who can forget becoming a grandfather? It puts things in perspective. A long perspective. As long as the passing of the generations.

Speaking of his latest goal, Mr. Clinton acknowledged: "I have nothing to do with that achievement, but I would like it. I would like to have a happy wife, and she won't be unless she's a grandmother. It's something she wants more than she wanted to be president."

Well, sure again. Who wouldn't prefer being a grand to being president? Mr. Clinton's comment about the Mrs. only confirms the impression that Hillary was always the Clinton with the right priorities.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


 

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