Bob Dole’s death shows how 'malignant whiners' took over the Trumpified GOP: Paul Krugman
When former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole died on Sunday, December 5 at the age of 98, many media figures — from liberals and progressives to Never Trump conservatives — described him as an old-school Republican who embodied a bygone era of GOP politics. Liberal economist and New York Times opinion writer Paul Krugman, in his December 7 column, weighs in on Dole’s death as well. And Krugman lays out the contrasts between Dole’s right-wing politics and the “malignant whiners” and MAGA extremists who dominate the GOP of 2021.
Dole was a fixture in the Republican Party for many years. First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968, Dole chaired the Republican National Committee from 1971-1973 before becoming President Gerald R. Ford’s running mate in 1976’s presidential election. Ford lost to Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter that year, and 20 years later, in 1996’s presidential election, GOP nominee Dole lost to incumbent President Bill Clinton.
After Dole’s death, President Joe Biden praised him as a “friend” and a “statesman” in an official statement, saying, “In the Senate, though we often disagreed, he never hesitated to work with me or other Democrats when it mattered most.” And Krugman, in his column, stresses that although he had plenty of policy disagreements with Dole, the late Kansas senator and World War II veteran showed a “basic decency” that is missing from today’s Trumpified GOP.
“Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader and presidential candidate, died on Sunday at age 98,” Krugman explains. “The media was filled with encomiums, which was understandable even for those who opposed much of what he stood for. It’s not just that he was a war hero, or that he reminds us of an era in which the two parties were willing to work together in the national interest. His life story also reminds us of a time when public figures were supposed to show some sense of responsibility — to possess basic decency, to admit to mistakes when they made them, even to put their lives on the line in time of war.”
Krugman adds that Dole’s death “came just a few days after we learned what Donald Trump did after he tested positive for the coronavirus last year.”
The columnist explains, “(Trump) not only concealed the result, but also, proceeded to put hundreds of people at risk by continuing his normal activities while refusing to wear a mask or practice social distancing…. At some level, nobody is surprised; we knew that Trump was malignant to a degree never before seen in high office. But what does it say about the state of modern America that nobody expects him to pay any price for this revelation? The loyalty of his base won’t be shaken; he’s still the favorite for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.”
Dole’s death, according to Krugman, “reminds us” that “grownups” have disappeared from the Republican Party and been replaced by toxic MAGA extremists.
“The transformation of American conservatism — the same movement that complains about liberal ‘snowflakes’ — into a collection of malignant whiners seems to have reached apotheosis,” Krugman emphasizes. “Yes, there are self-pitying hypocrites on the left too, but they don’t dominate the way Trump and Trump-like figures dominate the right.”
Krugman continues, “I’m not entirely sure why this has happened; the degradation probably began decades ago, maybe as early as the Vietnam years. But there’s no question that it has happened. At this point, there are no grown-ups left on one side of the political aisle.”
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