WALLACE: What do you think of your party, the Republicans today?
DOLE: 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.
WALLACE: You describe the GOP of your generation as Eisenhower Republicans, moderate Republicans. Could people like you, even Ronald Reagan — could you make it in today’s Republican Party.
DOLE: I doubt it. Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, cause he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.
As Steve M. reminds us, you can thank Bob Dole for the permanent GOP filibuster in the Senate.
It was on Election Night 1992, not very far into the evening, that the Senate minority leader, Bob Dole, hinted at the way his party planned to conduct itself in the months ahead: it would filibuster any significant legislation the new Democratic President proposed, forcing him to obtain 60 votes for Senate passage.
This was a form of scorched-earth partisan warfare unprecedented in modern political life. Congress is supposed to operate by majority vote. It is true that the filibuster has a long and disreputable Senate history and that, over the years, it has been used more by Democrats than by Republicans. But only after 1992 did it become the centerpiece of opposition conduct toward an elected President. What the Republicans did in the Senate in 1993 amounted to an unreported constitutional usurpation. It should have been denounced as such at the time, but it wasn't. The punditocracy chose not to notice.
In any case, it worked. Little that the President proposed became law in the two years that he operated with Democratic majorities. There was no health care reform, no economic stimulus package.
Sound familiar? Bob Dole made the 60 vote threshold for Democrats permanent. He's the reason why health care reform died 20 years ago and the reason we didn't get single-payer and the public option now.
So no, I don't feel like shedding a single tear for Bob Dole's lament. He helped create the Tea Party beast that now slouches towards Washington.