Friday, September 28, 2012

Bob Dole: Life after losing an election

In eulogizing Gerald Ford at his Grand Rapids, Mich., funeral in January 2007, Jimmy Carter described a New Yorker cartoon that both men had found amusing. In it a small boy informs his mother, “When I grow up, I want to be a former president.”

No one aspires to be a defeated presidential candidate.

In Washington, losing an election is viewed as a sort of death. But instead of bringing food to the house, a few neighbors and some in the media stick a microphone in your face and ask, “Did you cost Ford the White House?”

Twenty years after Ford and I lost the White House to Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, I was the one pointing fingers — at myself. Then, for a long time after my loss to Bill Clinton in 1996, I would lie awake nights wondering what I could have done to change the outcome. Did we rely too much on the Republican base, letting cultural issues define us in a harsh light and driving away independents and suburban voters?

I remembered former president Richard Nixon’s assessment in the months before his death in April 1994: “If the economy’s good,” he told me, “you’re not going to beat Clinton.”

The logic was irrefutable: If times are good, why would you vote out an incumbent? But that didn’t keep me from replaying the race in my head.
Read the rest here.

In 1996 I voted for Harry Browne not Sen. Dole. That said, I have always thought he was a class act and a true gentleman.


Anonymous said...

Senator Dole had the decency to resign his current post in the government unlike Sens. Lieberman and Kerry who narcissistically decided it was more important that they stay in Washington than to return home as private citizens.

CJ said...

My former boss is a Marine veteran who was once assigned to escort Dole during an official function. According to my boss, Dole seriously big-timed him, made him wait for no reason, "do you know who I am" the whole bit. However, this was before Viagra, so Bob may have had some pent-up frustration.