Bob Dole, RIP: veteran, man of organization and search for “regular order”

Since former senator Bob Dole is dead earlier this week, at 98, there was an outpouring of affection for the former majority leader, Republican presidential candidate and party chairman, and injured World War II veteran who was at the center of the American politics for more than a generation. This heat wave could have swept through Washington if Dole had died five years ago, before Donald Trump was elected. But after the turmoil that upended the standards of the past half-decade, there was bound to be even more nostalgia for Dole. Although he could be combative – he was even nicknamed “the ax man” – he embodied what the Capitol calls “Regular order.” (Dole himself was a Trump supporter, but his life in Washington — from his arrival in 1961 until his death — was one of normal old-time republicanism.)

Dole’s philosophy now feels like a time capsule. He was a man of organization, whether he was fight in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy in 1945 or by rising through the ranks of the House and the Republican leadership of the Senate. He had a reverence for rules, procedures and congressional colleagues that seems odd in the wake of Trumpian chaos. Kansan was not a moderate, but it had bipartisan impulses. Dole famous worked in close collaboration with Senator George McGovern of South Dakota on nutrition issues, establishment the Food for Peace international aid program, which did not harm our farmers.

Dole came to Congress in 1961, the same year John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, and he enthusiastically fought the New Frontier and Great Society programs. But the former prosecutor supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and enabled a key expansion of the VRA in 1982. In 1990, he helped pass the Americans with Disabilities Act . Alms, unable to use his right arm from the gunshots that tore him apart during the war, kept a pen in the injured hand to deter people who tried to clumsily shake him.

There are a few things that haven’t gotten enough attention in recent days that speak volumes about Dole and this moment.

The first was that of Dole candidacy 1976 as Vice President on the Republican ticket, and what he says about the oft-quoted Overton Window. Beyond today’s Republican Party madness, it’s hard to believe that in 1976 the Republican President of the United States was Gerald Ford and the Vice President was the former Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller. Neither had been elected, of course, so they didn’t really reflect their party’s post-Goldwater drift. Still, they weren’t considered RINO outliers, which they would be today.

While Ford’s elevation of the leadership of the House Republican was a play of a beleaguered Richard Nixon to make friends on Capitol Hill, Rockefeller’s elevation was an epic endorsement of Rockefeller’s republicanism, that of many Republicans savored it even as the assembled Reaganite majority hated it. Most Rockefeller vice presidential pushbacks confirmation hearings came from the Democrats, furious with the Governor of New York handling of the Attica prison headquarters in 1971.

When Ronald Reagan almost defeated Ford for the GOP nomination in 1976, the president had no choice but to go right and dump Rocky. Dole was the right winger that Ford tapped be his running mate. That Dole, now revered for his bipartisanship and statesmanlike gravitas, was known as a right-wing attack dog seems unbelievable now. Members of my liberal family – I was 13 at the time – thought Dole was a Republican Rottweiler. A young Bill Clinton did it too. Working for Jimmy Carter and running for Arkansas Attorney General, Clinton referred to Dole as “the biggest asshole in Congress” in a private note. Thirty years later, they will face each other in the 1996 presidential election.

When Dole noted all dead in the “Democrat Wars” during his 1976 presidential debate with Walter Mondale, he was rightly reprimanded. My father, a Navy veteran, groaned audibly. (For some strange reason, most Americans blamed Hitler and Hirohito for America’s World War II casualties, not Franklin Roosevelt.) But the bar is so, so much higher now for what constitutes a violation of etiquette. than at the time of Dole! Shouting “You lie!” to a state of the Union. Calling all members of the Communist Democratic Party, as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene do often. Post videos showing an animated version of yourself murder a colleague, as Representative Paul Gosar did. Dole’s rightly celebrated spirit might cross the line of meaning. But consider some of his famous lines, like his joke to George HW Bush in the midst of their fierce fight for the 1988 presidential nomination: “Stop lying about my record. At the time, this caused beads to be taken. Today, he would barely register on the cable news outrage meter. It’s not that Dole was a bipartisan saint. As a Senate Republican leader in the 1990s, his reflexive filibuster with Bill Clinton thwarted what might have been compromises on health care and other issues. But he’s never been happier with the filibuster than Mitch McConnell.

The other thing I wanted to mention about Dole is TEFRA. The Tax Fairness and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 was signed very reluctantly by Ronald Reagan and led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Dole. The bill did much to reverse the Reagan tax cuts of 1981 that put the country on a radically different fiscal path, an era of deficit spending. These days, after the financial crisis and pandemic, and decades of deficit spending, the idea of ​​government borrowing is not as strained as it was in 1981. But global financial conditions in 2022 are decidedly different from those of 1982. The world is flooded with capital as it was not 40 years ago, when fears of a savings crunch and a so-called crowding-out effect caused by the federal debt was a legitimate concern.

Dole didn’t just support TEFRA, which cut Reagan’s planned tax cuts, many of them for businesses, such as accelerated depreciation. (He also instituted a withholding tax on interest and dividend payments, which accrue mostly to high earners.) As finance chairman, Dole turned an internal offer-style bill into one with a some fiscal rectitude. Dole would be move away from his deficit hawk roots many times in the future, especially in 1996, when he ran for president with offer god Jack Kemp as his running mate. In 1982, however, he chaired youhe biggest tax hike in history, a tag for TEFRA that he tried to shake off but remained valid for nearly a decade until Bill Clinton took office.

To imagine. A Republican who pushed back against the president of his own party to raise taxes. Good luck finding this today. TEAR.

Aubrey L. Morgan