Commentary on Bob Dole's Speech to the
Republican National Convention, 9/96
Home Up

Postscript: 9/13/98: President Clinton has been fully exposed as a man lacking in integrity (See: Clinton). In retrospect, Bob Dole's accusations against a "philistine," unprincipled President who sold the Presidency to the highest bidder, seems fundamentally correct. Further his assertion that a vital, diverse free enterprise system (economic laissez- faire) is the greatest guarantor of democratic rights, seems more truthful to me now than it did two years ago. Dole's willingness to stand up to the teacher's unions was also principled and correct.

Bob Dole uses almost biblical, King James phrasing to express his manifest destiny and how closely it intertwines with America's destiny and greatness. As if they are one and the same.

Bob Dole stresses national unity and laments those minorities within our society that reject such unity. But aren't those minorities de facto part of the nation body? Isn't it their right to reject the majority views? It may be their responsibility in times of national defense to help defend the common interest, though even then they have the right to dissent when they believe foreign policy is immoral or misguided.

Bob Dole would be tough on criminals- quite a controversial position! Would he at the same time forget due process? Perhaps not. However, one has the impression that Republicans, while professing to defend citizens from big government, are not too troubled by the usurpation of individual rights for the disenfranchised, the accused and the weak. Clearly Bob Dole is not above challenging judicial rulings and publicly pressuring federal judges to conform to HIS view of justice.

Bob Dole relishes being at the center- he is, in his own words, the nation's greatest optimist. But does he truly reflect today's average American. I think not. His life may be inspirational in many respects, but it is not representative. Is Dole naive enough to think that because he struggled and triumphed that all Americans have enjoyed similar success?

Bob Dole still relishes the attack. He laughingly complimented Clinton as trying hard to be Republican, of blurring distinctions. At the same time he praised the virtue of compromise in politics. He criticized the Clinton tax increases, but failed to mention the Republican budget deficits and Savings and Loan fiasco.

Bob Dole would spend more on defense. He would build the Star Wars missile defense. He would cut taxes. He would preserve Medicare. What would he do with Social Security and Medicare? He attacks government spending, but ignores the legitimacy and public endorsement of many government programs. Perhaps he means: cut what HE thinks is unnecessary. However, if Bob Dole's view is that the government in Washington should permanently relinquish power to the states and localities to administer and fund a broad array of federal programs- then we are in agreement.

He would offer families "education vouchers" and claim that he would give even the poorest parents choice on where and how their children will be educated. However, vouchers can not disguise the fact that the wealthy have more disposable income to be able to afford a better education for their children. With vouchers, the public school system would crumble or become a last resort for the poorest children. Bob Dole and others that love to attack public education often hide the fact that they are a product of the system they condemn.

What does compassion mean to Bob Dole? What does public responsibility mean to him? What does collective responsibility and community mean? Is providing the government money to improve health care, education and public transportation so evil and pernicious? Is the average American's brash consumerism so praiseworthy? Bob Dole says he would in effect demolish the IRS. Another politically courageous stand! But just what does he mean? Would he weaken the agency's arrogance and almost extralegal power or simply make the tax laws simpler so that the IRS requires fewer agents?

Bob Dole eloquently expressed his personal values and background. God, Honor, Country and Family. He defended personal integrity, but me thinks "the man doeth protest to much". He seizes upon Clinton's willingness to compromise his beliefs and draws sharp contrast with himself. Why must he elevate himself by subtly and not so subtly attacking his opponent? I have always distrusted those that shout their personal integrity and goodness to the world. Goodness and light need not draw attention to itself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, " The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons". Again, Bob Dole says that as President he would risk being unpopular and not worry about future reelection. How convenient, since he has vowed, due to advanced age, to be a one term President!

Bob Dole has recently become an advocate of Jack Kemp's supply side economic views. Again, how convenient that he offers a half a trillion dollars of tax reductions and tax credits (without specifying areas of spending reduction) right before an election. For that matter, has Bob Dole taken any controversial or unpopular position? Looks a lot like shades of Clinton- moderate Republican style.

Bob Dole has downplayed the abortion and anti-gay rights issue- perhaps because he knows full well that the Christian right would never turn to Clinton, hence why alienate pro-choice and anti-gay rights voters.

Finally, Bob Dole implied that the greatest protection for America's political freedom is economic laissez- faire. I disagree. In mainland China, for example, you have what appears to be an emerging capitalist state, without individual liberty. Further, imagine if you will a society where the government pursues a pure laissez-faire economic policy and instead large, multi-national corporations work unfettered to restrict competition in the marketplace. I believe that the preservation and defense of individual rights should represent the principle goal of government and legislators. The ability to accumulate wealth without government interference is but one right and must be balanced with other rights such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For example, environmental protection laws, though they may restrict economic freedom are still needed to preserve human and other forms of life.

In summary, Bob Dole represents an idealized America that exists mostly in his own mind. God, Honor, Country and Family are still important to people. But what they mean to Bob Dole, may not be what they mean to the majority of Americans. America has a 50% divorce rate. This would suggest that marriage, unfortunately, has become more of a convenience than a scared obligation. Honor is important to some, but there is too much evidence that to many it is merely for show. "Country" to some Americans means a white or black only America. It may mean a homosexual free America. Perhaps it means an America of blonde, blue eyed beautiful children. To others Country is associated with oppression, hatred and fear. God means many things to many people. To some their God is the God of the Hebrew/Christian bible. To others it is Allah. For some God is everywhere. The point is this: No American has the moral and/or legal right to impose upon another American HIS or HER view of God, Honor, Country and Family. All to often the loudest proponents of "moral" values are, in reality, the greatest enemies of such values. It is the politician's primary duty to make sure that the rights of all individuals in a society are cherished, protected and preserved.

The Declaration of Independence

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

 See: Bob Dole's Skeleton Closet & Elizabeth Dole's Skeleton Closet 

 

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