The venerable Bob Dole weighed in on the recent bickering over whether the next debate should be virtual or not. For those too young to remember, Dole was the GOP candidate for president in 1996. He is 97 years young and truly one of the last from that generation of American politics. This is what he said via his Twitter account.
“The Commission on Presidential Debates is supposedly bipartisan w/ an equal number of Rs and Ds. I know all of the Republicans and most are friends of mine. I am concerned that none of them support @realDonaldTrump. A biased Debate Commission is unfair.”
A number of people on Twitter took this to a very mean place nearly immediately. More than one were shocked that Dole was still alive. Dole exists from a time when there was honor in politics. He is a World War II veteran that was wounded in battle. He deserves our respect for his service to the country in all arenas. However, this exchange is just incredibly sad on so many levels.
Let’s review the order of events that the commission had to consider. The president announced that he was positive for Covid-19 last Thursday. The debate took place on Tuesday night. Medical experts indicate that someone can be contagious 24 to 48 hours before they first test positive. The administration still won’t reveal the last time he tested negative before his announcement that he was positive.
Let’s set aside the confusion of when he was positive and what he has done since being positive. This is simple. The next debate is set for next Thursday. That’s 14 days from the announcement of when he first tested positive. The CDC recommends people quarantine for 14 days following a positive test. Next Thursday would be the last day of that quarantine period. I don’t know why this is so difficult.
Of course, the White House could dispute that timeline by announcing that the administration tested positive earlier as they reported. I think they would be reluctant to do that. For one, it would be yet another correction of the timeline. Secondly, it would be an open admission that the president knowingly attended multiple events while positive and contagious.
However, I’ve litigated that issue before. Today, I want to move on directly to Dole’s statement and the sadness that it brings. He is saddened because some of his Republican friends oppose the president. Dole comes from a prior time when loyalty to country actually meant something. You could disagree with him politically, but no one could ever question his loyalty to his country. He nearly gave his life serving his country in World War II. It is incredibly sad to see him go from that to this.
This isn’t to say that a Republican shouldn’t support the president. You support who you want to support. However, one shouldn’t question the loyalty of any American based on who they support for president. Your first loyalty should be to country. We’ve seen how far the GOP has tumbled during the last four years. They don’t have a platform. Their platform is the president. I would like to think a lifelong Republican would find that alarming. It is alarming when Republicans are willing to eat their own just because some of them question whether Trump is upholding their values.
It also brings into question of whether Republican members of the commission can be impartial just because they don’t support the nominee. How exactly is a switch to a virtual debate unfair? This is considering that the GOP nominee and his entourage showed up late last time and refused to wear face coverings. Making the debate virtual seems more than reasonable.
Yet, this isn’t really about that. Trump doesn’t want to participate because they can mute his mic very easily. He isn’t interested in following rules. He didn’t follow any of the rules last time. He isn’t following the quarantine rules. He hasn’t followed any number of norms while president. Naturally, some may choose to think that’s a good thing. It may well be. You also know it coming in.
What this is about is where our allegiances lie. I’m a lifelong Democrat. I make no apologies for that. I’ve never had anyone like Donald Trump in my party. No one has. I’d like to think I’d put country first in any election. I couldn’t support someone like Trump even if they had a D by their name. There are some things that are just more important than winning an election. There are some things more important than holding control of the White House or Congress. Bob Dole used to think that way. At least I thought he did.