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Republicans miss their chance again

In this presidential election, the Republicans have managed to get themselves stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

This shouldn't be a surprise. A pundit once described the national Republican Party as "very clean people, but kind of stupid."

And they haven't done anything this time around to prove otherwise. So what's new? Do they ever?

Four years ago, the Republicans were in an incredibly strong position.

They had an incumbent president in George Bush, and he had that most glorious of political triumphs _ a recent winning war against a detested enemy.

Remember Desert Storm, with Bush's generals _ Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf _ stomping the evil forces of Saddam Hussein? And almost all of it _ soaring Scuds and surrendering scum bags _ on network TV.

Plus a national economy that even by this country's self-indulgent, whiny standards wasn't half bad.

And incumbent Bush _ with all of his straight-arrow credentials _ was up against the biggest patsy the Democrats had put up since George McGovern.

Yes, if any Democrat was beatable, even stompable, it was Bill Clinton, who was best known to the American public as a double-talking, draft-dodging chaser of skirts.

But somehow Bush managed to overcome all these advantages and lose. I still don't know how he managed to do it. It had to be one of the biggest flubs in the history of American politics.

So now, four years later, we have the same Bill Clinton, except he has elevated his double-talking skills into an even more dazzling display of triple or quadruple talk.

From day to day, sound bite to sound bite, we don't know if he is a liberal Democrat, a Republican conservative, a Libertarian or a totally non-partisan independent. Or maybe he's all three or all 10.

If a strong Communist candidate was in this race, Clinton would probably one-up him by calling for immediate to-the-wall execution of anyone who had paid off a home mortgage.

He stands for everything and nothing except getting himself re-elected.

So with opportunity rapping on their foreheads, who do the Republicans let win their primaries and become their candidate?

I have nothing but respect and love for the generation of young men who survived the Depression and fought World War II. They formed the last generation of Americans who had something impressive to tuck into their athletic supporters.

And history will show that Sen. Bob Dole is twice the man that Clinton will ever be.

And 10 times a Stephanopoulos and the other 1960s sneak pot-smokers who strut around the White House.

But Dole is really an awful presidential candidate.

Maybe not by the standards of 1776, 1812, 1860 or 1941. But this is the media-obsessed 1990s.

Most of the alleged adults who vote today don't know who was on which side in World War II, much less who won.

So Dole is a true dinosaur, old gramps, who is treated with giggly respect at birthday parties and family weddings. But why in the heck is the geezer trying to tell us what to do?

I mean, the coot still prefers Glenn Miller and the Andrews sisters.

And while I still prefer Glenn Miller and the Andrews sisters, despite their stubborn refusal to overdose on crack, I agree on all of Dole's political flaws.

He is, as the pundits point out every day, a real grouch. When overpaid network cutesy-faces ask moronic questions, he rises to the bait and loses his temper.

He makes it obvious that he considers some of the questions asked by the media horde to be dumber than something from a pet rock. And he's right, of course. Any boob knows that a cigarette is not health food. So he rightly thinks: Why bug a presidential candidate about tobacco when it is up to a smoker to stop being a smoker?

Which is why the Republican Party is so dumb. It should have found someone who fits in the '90s and could smile lovingly at the TV babblers and give them what they want: A five- or 10-second sound bite. Something like: "I am against smoking. I am against crime. I am against everything bad. And if elected, I will make everyone happy, healthy, and forgive all credit card debt."

There are millions of Republicans out there. Are we to believe that they couldn't have found someone who dodged the draft, dropped his pants and gave a good sound bite?

Well, it is their tough luck. They are going to lose. Next time, they should find someone who knows what to say and how to win.

Hey, what about Clinton? Just make him an offer he can't refuse.

Chicago Tribune