March 7, 1996 in City

Like It Or Not, We Republicans Are Stuck With Dole

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

The Clark political juggernaut was humming like a fine Japanese import.

Big Mo had pitched her pup tent in my campsite.

And for a fleeting, seductive moment at Tuesday night’s GOP caucus I tasted the heady brew of power.

Phew! I spat it back.

Call me an ingrate, but I turned down a golden opportunity to attend the county Republican convention as a delegate representing my Spokane South Hill precinct.

Although I’d never before caucused in public, I gave it a shot, thinking it could be a springboard to better things:

First, there would be caucus delegate Doug, then Sen. Doug and then on to the White House. Catchy campaign slogan: “President Doug - Hey, it could be worse!”

But the cost of assuming this delegate mantle was too high.

A majority of the seven who showed up to represent my precinct clearly wanted Dole supporters representing them at the April 13 county convention.

In fairness to these very nice and thoughtful people, I pulled a Phil Gramm scram and dropped out of the race.

Sorry, I’m not yet ready to jump on the Dole train.

My political enthusiasm flopped like an underdone souffle months ago, when Jack Kemp chickened out. Now, like many conservative-minded voters, I find myself in a queasy quandary.

Forbes and Alexander are burnt toast. Buchanan is a jackal. And this latest edition of the Dole-forpresident campaign is as thrilling as a cold bowl of gravy.

Seeing Dole run again is like watching another Bob Hope TV special. You kind of admire the geezer. You just wish he’d get off the stage before he falls down and busts a hip.

“I’m not excited about him, either,” said Dave, a member of my precinct. “But who else do we have?”

The caucus is a crude instrument for seeking truth. Most states wisely have scrapped these outdated gatherings that consist of, well, anyone who bothers to show up.

Even my own wife wouldn’t come with me to the caucus. Sleeping with me was one thing, she said, but “I won’t be any part of your political machine.”

“It’s a dumb system,” agreed Jon, another of my fellow precinct members.

Some precincts go unrepresented. Because of the small numbers, the meetings can be railroaded by political sharks.

Some of those in my precinct, for example, are still hacked off at the highly organized Pat Robertson fanatics who hijacked the GOP caucuses in 1988. The entire state went for Robertson that year. How embarrassing.

“Basically we took a vote. Each candidate received about 30 percent,” recalled another precinct member and the lone Forbes supporter. “Some guy all of a sudden declared Robertson the winner.”

No ugliness could be found Tuesday night. A dozen or so precincts crowded into a room where the group discussion on issues was quite civil. After listing our various concerns - taxes, crime, abortion, welfare reform, etc. - we huddled for brief precinct meetings to elect delegates.

With Dole finally mopping up in the state primaries, the Republican situation is clear. If we are to toss out Bubba, the philandering Arkansas weasel, Dole is our guy.

But we don’t have to like it.

Dole made a sour impression on me in 1987, when I interviewed him in a limousine after he blew into Spokane during that year’s quest to be prez.

The senator reminded me of a cranky neighbor who used to aim his sprinklers at the sidewalk to keep kids from riding their trikes near his house.

You know that cop who woke up from a coma the other day?

The first words out of his mouth were: “It’s been seven years. Everything’s changed. Except Dole.”

, DataTimes

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