With the death of George Schultz this week we all think back to the days when James Baker and Jean Kirkpatrick formulated policy and wise political minds such as Ed Meese, Mike Deaver, and other notables made the gears of a Republican White House turn (at most times) like a well-oiled machine. Watching the Republicans operate in the past five years, as opposed to what watchers of politics know to be possible, makes current events even stranger. And very sad.
I looked back on the photos of the former long-serving secretary of state, but as I flipped among the many offerings on Google it became more and more clear that the death of Schultz was not the main story. Instead for me, the fall of a once-proud party was what stood out, as there is no way to compare only recent decades with current events and not feel and see the truth.
Schultz was an intelligent man. One did not need to agree with each policy move or pronouncement to know this guy had what I like to term gravitas. It has become a far rarer commodity among the recent top names who have captured the GOP. That caliber of leadership and effort to aim for the greater outcomes made him stand out from the mere partisan rabble.
He was, in many ways, a thinker about policy and the future needs of the nation. Not for the next mid-terms but the long term. The reason President Reagan had a chance to move the dime with Russian relations was due to Schultz’s adroit handling of issues–and people. He played a cerebral game.
So as I spent some time on a mighty cold Sunday looking at old pictures it just seemed hard to not also linger over the recent splits, cliques, and nearing implosion of what once was rightly termed the Grand Ole Party. What I am most interested in following over the recent years—-even though the raging lunatics are hard to take my eyes away from—is that Republicans are seeming not to care at all, or elevate their thinking, so to register what the party needs to be focused on ‘after tomorrow’.
The think tanks of the past which generated ideas or the lofty minds such as Jack Kemp, for example, who pondered housing for inner-city low-income earners are just not working for the party. There is nothing akin to that in today’s GOP. There is no calibrating the party to consider anything other than the partisan red-meat moments in which they willingly wallow.
So as I looked at the photographs of Schultz, Reagan, Baker, and the many others who once dominated the GOP the headlines in the newspapers are of Greene, Trump, Graham, and McCarthy.
How far adrift the Republican Party is from its storied history. That is what just confounds me when thinking about this moment and that party.