A Chicken-Fried McGovern, Newt’s Good Ideas and the Senate Zoo: A Dole One-Liner Sampler

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Bob Dole, who died connected Sunday astatine property 98, was generous with his sarcastic wit, utilizing it against Democrats, Republicans and often himself.

Bob Dole announced his determination  to resign from the Senate successful  1996.
Credit...Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Maggie Astor

Dec. 5, 2021, 6:40 p.m. ET

At a vice-presidential statement against Walter Mondale successful 1976, Senator Bob Dole flung 1 of the acerbic one-liners helium was known for.

“If we added up the killed and wounded successful Democrat wars successful this century,” helium said, “it would beryllium astir 1.6 cardinal Americans, capable to capable the metropolis of Detroit.”

It did not spell implicit well. Under occurrence adjacent from immoderate chap Republicans, Mr. Dole denied utilizing the operation “Democrat wars,” past did harm control. His point, a spokesperson said, had been that it was arsenic unfair to blasted Democrats for those wars arsenic it was to blasted President Gerald Ford — who was astatine the apical of the summons Mr. Dole was moving connected — for Watergate.


Credit...The New York Times Archives

The lone happening that stood retired astir the occurrence was that Mr. Dole seemed to admit helium had taken his diagnostic sarcasm excessively far.

But helium ne'er stopped utilizing it — against Democrats, Republicans and often himself. After his decease connected Sunday astatine property 98, present is simply a sampling of his crisp tongue, including his jabs astatine supply-side economics and his venomous missive to a erstwhile White House official.

In his archetypal run for the presidency, successful 1980, Mr. Dole joined the pile-on against President Jimmy Carter.

“I erstwhile called Carter a chicken-fried McGovern,” Mr. Dole said, referring to the erstwhile Democratic nominee George McGovern. “And I instrumentality that backmost due to the fact that I’ve travel to respect McGovern.”

Much similar Mr. McGovern’s 1972 wide predetermination campaign, Mr. Dole’s 1980 superior run crashed and burned. He won conscionable 607 votes successful New Hampshire.

The adjacent day, helium “slept similar a baby,” Mr. Dole said afterward. “Every 2 hours I woke up and cried.”


Credit...Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

If 1980 was a atrocious twelvemonth for him, it was a large twelvemonth for his party: Ronald Reagan won the presidency and Republicans retook the Senate. But Mr. Dole was little than blessed with the peculiar Republicans who had done so, immoderate of whom helium felt had risen connected an anti-Democratic question alternatively than connected their ain merits.

“If we had known we were going to triumph power of the Senate,” he said, “we’d person tally amended candidates.”

In 1982, arsenic members of the Senate Finance Committee worked precocious connected a measure to destruct billions successful taxation breaks, Mr. Dole declared that lobbyists and lawyers “may beryllium wearing Guccis tonight, but they’ll beryllium barefoot by morning.”


Credit...Bob Daugherty/Associated Press

As the Democratic superior elections got underway successful 1984, Mr. Dole commented connected the failing statesmanlike run of Senator Ernest F. Hollings with a jab whose relevance to his ain run was surely not mislaid connected him.

“The aboriginal run has shown that Fritz Hollings has the champion consciousness of humor,” he said. “And with 1 percent of the vote, he’ll request it.”

Four years later, Mr. Dole again ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination. Accused of lacking “vision,” he said: “We thought of having a vision-of-the-month nine conscionable for the media. They’d say, ‘That’s the incorrect vision,’ and I’d say, ‘That’s each right, I got different one.’”

Mr. Dole reached the apex of his vocation aft Republicans seized power of Congress successful 1994, making him the Senate bulk leader. The triumph was led by Representative Newt Gingrich, who would go talker of the House. But Mr. Dole was not a fan.

“You perceive Gingrich’s unit has these 5 record cabinets, 4 large ones and 1 small tiny one,” helium told The New York Times Magazine successful 1995. “No. 1 is ‘Newt’s Ideas.’ No. 2, ‘Newt’s Ideas.’ No. 3, No. 4, ‘Newt’s Ideas.’ The small 1 is ‘Newt’s Good Ideas.’”


Credit...Diana Walker/Getty Images

Later that year, during a authorities shutdown, Mr. Dole and Mr. Gingrich announced that they supported paying national workers who were furloughed due to the fact that of the shutdown.

Wasn’t it absurd, a newsman asked, to wage workers to enactment location alternatively than conscionable person them work?

Mr. Dole — whose location state, Kansas, benefited from national payments to farmers to permission immoderate onshore fallow for biology reasons — replied, “It’s similar a workplace program.”

According to The Tampa Bay Times, Senator John McCain of Arizona liked to archer a communicative astir a meal Senate Republicans had with President Bill Clinton. Someone asked Mr. Clinton if helium had work a execution enigma written by a Republican senator, and the president said yes, noting, “It’s a Democratic legislator who gets murdered.”

“Yeah,” Mr. Dole said. “It has a blessed ending.”

In 1996, Mr. Dole ran for president erstwhile more.

When 1 of his rivals for the Republican nomination, Pat Buchanan, accused him of distorting Mr. Buchanan’s record, The Orlando Sentinel reported, “Dole mumbled that helium was lone reporting what helium had work successful Buchanan’s syndicated columns, and helium conscionable ever assumed they were accurate.”


Credit...Win McNamee/Reuters

Mr. Dole won the nomination. (He past mislaid to Mr. Clinton, 159 electoral votes to 379.) His moving mate was Jack Kemp, a erstwhile shot subordinate who had spent 18 years successful the House of Representatives, and whom Mr. Dole had antecedently mocked.

“There was a definite shot subordinate who forgot his helmet and past started talking supply-side theory,” Mr. Dole said successful an undated remark recounted by The Tampa Bay Times.

It was not the archetypal clip Mr. Dole had expressed disdain for supply-side economics, the Reaganite gospel that cutting taxes and decreasing regulations would fortify the system capable to recoup mislaid taxation revenue.

“A autobus filled with supply-siders goes implicit the cliff, sidesplitting each aboard,” he erstwhile said. “That’s the bully news. The atrocious quality is that determination were 3 unoccupied seats.”

Not that helium supported raising taxes.

“I retrieve 1 time connected the floor, I said, ‘Now, gentlemen, fto maine taxation your memories,’” he said successful 1 of his statesmanlike debates with Mr. Clinton, name-checking Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. “And Kennedy jumped up and said, ‘Why haven’t we thought of that before?’”

Because helium had fixed up his Senate spot to tally for president, Mr. Dole had nary occupation to instrumentality to aft helium lost.

In a startling move, helium agreed to prima successful a commercialized for Viagra erstwhile it was introduced successful 1998. He knew that talking astir erectile dysfunction was “a small embarrassing,” helium said successful the ad, “but it’s truthful important to millions of men and their partners.”


Credit...Patrick Pagnano/CBS via Associated Press

Mr. Dole embraced the association, including connected “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” successful 2002. After Mr. Leno mentioned probe showing that Viagra mightiness origin blindness successful uncommon cases, Mr. Dole emerged to roars of laughter from the audience.

“That’s a batch of rubbish, Jay,” he said. “I hatred to spot this misinformation being spread. I cognize a small astir Viagra, Bob Dole knows a small astir Viagra, and my imaginativeness is perfect. It’s 20/20.

“And,” helium said, pointing to Mr. Leno’s set leader, “you ought to cognize better, Jay Leno.”

Mr. Dole was a repetition impermanent connected late-night shows. He fired disconnected respective one-liners successful an appearance connected the “Late Show” with David Letterman successful 1998, including musing connected the magnitude of his Senate career: 35 and a fractional years.

Of course, helium added, “Senator Thurmond’s been determination — well, let’s see, helium came successful with Chester Arthur.”

When Mr. Letterman asked if helium inactive visited the Senate, Mr. Dole replied, “I don’t spell up precise often, due to the fact that I can’t ballot anymore and the remainder of them ballot wrong.”

Mr. Dole was not supra criticizing the instauration helium spent 35 years in. “If you’re hanging astir with thing to bash and the zoo is closed, travel implicit to the Senate,” helium erstwhile said, according to former Senator Ben Nelson’s memoir. “You’ll get the aforesaid benignant of feeling and you won’t person to pay.”

Like galore members of the aged defender of Republicans, Mr. Dole became progressively captious of the party’s absorption — but inactive endorsed Donald J. Trump for president successful 2016.

The Republican National Committee should enactment up a motion “that says ‘closed for repairs’ until New Year’s Day adjacent twelvemonth and walk that clip going implicit ideas and affirmative agendas,” helium told Fox News successful 2013. Discussing who could beryllium elected successful today’s party, helium added: “Reagan wouldn’t person made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t person made it, due to the fact that helium had ideas.”

There was immoderate irony to the criticism, due to the fact that Mr. Dole had excoriated a erstwhile White House property caput who wrote a captious publication astir the George W. Bush administration.

“There are miserable creatures similar you successful each medication who don’t person the guts to talk up oregon discontinue if determination are disagreements with the brag oregon colleagues,” helium wrote successful a blistering 2008 letter to the erstwhile official, Scott McClellan, adding: “When the wealth starts rolling successful you should donate it to a worthy cause, thing like, ‘Biting the Hand That Fed Me.’”

But Mr. Dole was thing if not self-aware.

“I was expected to spell for the jugular,” he erstwhile said, reflecting connected his “Democrat wars” remark successful 1976. “And I did — my own.”

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