John McCain is wrong to say that political criticism of war hero Bob Dole is out of bounds

It pains me greatly to defend Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, in any circumstance. But fair is fair, and Cruz has been unfairly criticized for something he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference the other day. Cruz opined that Republican presidential nominees Bob Dole (above), John McCain and Mitt Romney were unsuccessful at the ballot box because they didn’t sufficiently articulate conservative principles on the campaign trail. The next day, McCain went on TV and said this: “I spoke to Ted Cruz. He and I have a cordial relationship…He can say what he wants to about me, and he can say anything he wants to, I think, about Mitt [Romney], Mitt’s capable of taking it. But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country? “Bob Dole is such a man of honor and integrity and principle. I hope that Ted Cruz will apologize to Bob Dole because that’s, that has crossed a line that, to me, is — leaves the realm of politics and discourse that we should have in America.” Now wait a minute! Virtually all Americans honor Bob Dole’s heroism in World War II. The wounds he suffered were horrific and left with him with a crippled right arm. But that doesn’t mean that he should never be criticized for his politics. Cruz didn’t say Dole is (or was)) an unprincipled man. Here’s what he said about Dole, McCain and Romney: “Those are good men, they’re decent men, but when you don’t stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don’t stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.” That doesn’t sound unfair to me. As political rhetoric goes, it sounds fairly routine. It’s a Republican politician on the far right wing of his party making what he considers a valid point about certain other members of his party who aren’t quite that far to the right. It’s my guess that Dole himself would be the first person to say that his courageous and noble service in the military doesn’t grant him immunity from such criticism. McCain says he’s not especially bothered by the criticism aimed at him by Cruz. But I have to wonder if he thinks, if only subconsciously,  that his own military service — which included being held as a prisoner of war for six years during the Vietnam conflict — has earned him the immunity from political criticism he now seeks for Bob...

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Where are George McGovern and Bob Dole when we really need them?

On more than a few occasions in recent  years, I’ve had cause to pine for the congressional comity of not so long ago. So, too, has political scientist Norm Ornstein, as we see HERE: The news that there will be no farm bill this year, after three futile years of embarrassing setbacks and turmoil, made me reflect on the larger issues. Exhibit A is the farm bill, the poster child for the state of dysfunction in Congress and American politics. In 1969-70, my first year in Washington, George McGovern memorably took to the Senate floor to reflect on his colleagues’ culpability in the Vietnam War. He said, “The walls of this chamber reek with blood,” drawing a collective gasp from those on the floor and in the galleries. You weren’t supposed to talk that way in the Senate. A week or so later, Bob Dole, then a freshman senator, took to the floor and ripped the bark off of McGovern for his apostasy. But sometime later in the year, I saw McGovern and Dole walking arm in arm in the Old Senate Office Building. They forged a relationship that blossomed into a 40-year-plus friendship, based on their common interest in dealing with food issues. Dole, representing his Kansas farmers, embraced the food-stamp program on their behalf, a way to deal with farm surpluses. McGovern, with a deep passion to alleviate hunger in America, embraced a system of price supports that gave money to agribusinesses for not planting crops as a way to fund the food-stamp program. Their alliance reflected a more than five-decade relationship between rural and urban lawmakers that made farm bills possible, a kind of model for how Congress, through compromises and trade-offs, can find majorities for legislation that primarily benefits minorities or narrower interests. To be sure, the alliance was at best imperfect; the farm price support system was not very smart public policy. But on balance, the coalition worked, given the larger politics that surrounded both agriculture and food stamps, providing stable and ample food supplies while adding to the safety net for the poorest among...

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Former GOP Sen. Bob Dole says he and Ronald Reagan couldn’t make it in today’s Republican Party

As I’ve said here on many previous occasions, Ronald Reagan would be considered a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by the extremists in today’s GOP. Bob Dole, who was a party leader for many years and its presidential nominee in 1996, agrees with me. [youtube]http://youtu.be/HUfvOSmLwZ8[/youtube]

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Not even Bob Dole in a wheelchair can keep GOP extremists from rejecting disabilities treaty

To the wackier elements of the Republican coalition, anything bearing the label of the United Nations is part of a nefarious plot to undermine American sovereignty and sap us of our precious bodily fluids. Consequently, we had THIS SORRY SPECTACLE today: Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole [above] made a rare Senate appearance this morning, sitting in a wheelchair just off the floor so that members would have to see him as they entered the chamber. Why? Because they were poised to vote on ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Dole hoped to send a message. It didn’t work. The Senate killed the treaty this afternoon, with a final vote of 61 to 38, which seems like a lopsided majority, but which fell short of the two-thirds necessary for ratification. Eight Republicans broke ranks and joined Democrats in support of the treaty, but the clear majority of the Senate GOP voted to block it. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, for those who’ve forgotten, is a human rights treaty negotiated by the George H.W. Bush administration, which has been ratified by 126 nations, including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. But most Senate Republicans saw it as a threat to American “sovereignty,” even though the treaty wouldn’t have required the United States to change its laws. When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the treaty with bipartisan support in July, Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) explained the proposal simply “raises the [international] standard to our level without requiring us to go...

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Bob Dole says Bob Dole doesn’t like Newt Gingrich

      OK, I’ll admit it. I probably wouldn’t have written a post on this matter but for the opportunity to write a headline mocking Bob Dole’s curious penchant for referring to himself in the third person. Anyway, Dole SAYS the misfortunes of the Republican ticket in 1996, with him at the top of it, were partly the blame of…guess who? (Oh, right. You already read the headline.) Anyway, here’s some of what Dole says about the Newtster in a statement released by Mitt Romney’s campaign: If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway… Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. He loved picking a fight with Bill Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics helped to topple Gingrich in 1998. In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Dole goes on to suggest that a Gingrich nomination would bring about a landslide for Barack Obama. He also says something about Newt and “an empty ice bucket,” but I’m not sure what it means. Let me know if you can figure it...

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