Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Tosses Cap over the Wall

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dole Tosses Cap over the Wall

Article excerpt

After his victory in an Iowa squeaker, Bob Dole said: "Whoever wins next Tuesday in New Hampshire will probably be the Republican nominee."

That is known in politics as "tossing your cap over the wall," an expression based on a kid's self-challenge before trying to scale an obstacle.

Dole is publicly betting, with admirable confidence and a certain fatalism in the teeth of some polls, that a Dole win of the nation's first primary will propel him to nomination victory. Implicit in that gutsy gamble is the downside risk: If he does not make it over that Granite State wall, there goes his cap and his presidential campaign.

What is true for Dole, however, is not true for two of his rivals.

Steve Forbes is not going to be the Republican nominee no matter what happens in New Hampshire. That was asserted in this space before Iowa and is repeated with certitude.

Why the absence of safe equivocation? Because the Forbes candidacy, which had its early uses as a Republican tax-issue lark, transformed it self into an ugly spoiler campaign, benefiting only Democrat Bill Clinton. "To the victor belong the spoils" is the Jacksonian dictum, but to the spoiler belongs neither victory nor spoils.

Nor is Pat Buchanan going to be the Republican nominee even if he carries New Hampshire in a snowslide.

Give my old Nixon speechwriting sidekick credit: Unlike the arriviste Forbes, Pat paid conservative dues dating back to the Goldwater Viking's funeral, and unlike the wealthy purchaser of a place in pollster heaven, Buchanan makes his bid on shoestring financing and shoe-leather campaigning. And he skillfully emphasizes morality in the Bible Belt and switches to economic populism in the Rust Belt.

Nevertheless, Buchanan is the embodiment of a constantly shifting Permanent Minority. He took a cruel shot from the liberal columnist Molly Ivins, who wrote that his 1992 convention speech declaring cultural war was "better in the original German," but not even years on the political margin have dimmed the Buchanan resolve to articulate the beliefs of the True Believers of 1930s conservatism-isolationism. …

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