Performance Prognosis

By Adelman, Ken | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 21, 1996 | Go to article overview

Performance Prognosis


Adelman, Ken, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


This year's GOP race was supposed to be a sprint, not a marathon, since other state primaries bunched themselves after New Hampshire. Another "expert" prediction probably wrong.

Presuming Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander, and Pat Buchanan marathon all the way to the Republican Convention, we should turn from horse race punditry to examine how each would do as president of the United States. That, after all, is the question. And that, after all, will determine whether the GOP candidate will beat Bill Clinton in November.

First the easiest: Pat Buchanan. Well, he'd be a dreadful president. Not that he isn't bright and well-meaning. Just that he's wrongheaded and coldhearted.

While much of Mr. Buchanan's red meat is tasty to some conservatives, his anti-trade, anti-immigration, anti-culture entrees are misguided. They're "old think" - very old, in fact, dating back to the Know Nothing, protectionist, and America First movements that proved fleetingly popular but terribly destructive in the generations between the Civil War and World War II.

Besides, they all stem from division. Even that most divisive of presidents, Mr. Buchanan's mentor and idol, Richard Nixon, ran his successful campaign and began his successful early years as president reiterating the sign he claimed a little girl held up, "Bring Us Together."

While never serving in the military and ferociously opposing even the Gulf war, Pat Buchanan relishes waging war - on other Americans for their sexual or cultural ways, and on foreigners, for their economic prowess. Any candidate, but particularly a conservative, must be big-hearted to win. And a president must be inclusive to govern. After all, politics is the art of inclusion. Well, that's not Pat.

Bob Dole would do best, as president, of these three. Granted, there's little vision or personal charm. Yet Harry Truman lacked these too and ended up a near-great president. For vision, Truman simply adopted New Deal left-overs on domestic policies, and took from an impressive array of intellectuals he chose on foreign affairs - giants like George Marshall, Dean Acheson, George Kennan and the like.

A President Dole would resemble Lyndon Johnson more than Harry Truman - Johnson, that is, without the albatross of the Vietnam War. …

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