Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Part 2: The Virginia Series: The Bob Dole Conversation


Bob Dole was in the news today, cracking jokes and showing emotion at the hanging of his portrait in the Capitol. I always liked him and I knew something long before the voters in his presidential run: He was funny. I actually kidded around with Bob Dole well before most Americans knew he had a sense of humor. I was in a hallway with him, and remembered to shake his left hand as the other was badly damaged from his war wounds. (That's why he always carries a pen in that hand.) I always tried to be funny around big-shots - for some reason I don't feel intimidated in the least, and am more likely to be shy around someone I've known for years. Anyway, I told him he looked a lot better than he did on C-Span surrounded by the rest of Congress, and that cracked him up. We had a fun conversation, and yes, it was weird knowing I had written some of the jokes about him on national TV - a fact I didn't mention. I also said to myself, "My God, why doesn't the guy show this side of his personality to the American Public?" Wasn't that weird how he assumed such a dour persona throughout most of his career, and then after it was over, he loosened up and became much more popular? It's a lesson to politicians and anyone in the public eye. He used to be lambasted on SNL for being grumpy and repetitive, and to an extent, it was accurate. I know he set an unbreakable record for the number of times he used the phrase, "In my view". But seeing him on the news today, brought back another memory from right after the talk I had with Bob Dole in the hallway. I was reminded of a conversation I had with my mother, Virginia, that said a lot about her as well as Bob Dole himself.
Now, you have to know that my Mom was the ultimate softie - she would literally apologize to a fly before swatting it. But she was a World War 2 Red Cross Recreation Worker so she was also the ultimate in emotional strength. Men don't have emotional strength like this. She could walk into a room and no matter how bad things were, you'd feel better. You'd feel stronger emotionally. So I asked her about Bob Dole and to my surprise she was not that impressed. She said, "I knew a lot of men who were hurt a lot worse, and handled it a lot better." Hurt a lot worse? First of all, do you know how long Bob Dole was in the hospital after he was wounded? 39 months. And Virginia knew a lot of men who were hurt more than that? It must have been horrific. But I was surprised when she said she had known a lot of soldiers who had handled it better. I said, "Mom, I mean the guy did go on to be a Senator. He did pretty well." But she was talking about his emotional recovery and she wasn't impressed. Now, you have to remember she was saying this out of total love. I mean these were the GIs of World War 2. Long before my brother and I came along, these were her boys. So I filed that comment away and every time I saw Bob Dole on TV it became clearer. There was an element of hurt there, that hadn't been addressed correctly. Now, it's not anyone's fault, and it certainly doesn't detract one bit from Bob Dole - a man we all should greatly admire. But I began to realize what she was talking about, especially when he would say things like he never looks at his body in the mirror. There are some bitter, painful issues there. I also realized something else. If only my Mom had been on his ward, he would have had a much better recovery emotionally. She would have sat there and talked to him, till he had worked it out. It would have been heavy doses of love, but also a lot of "You have got to shape up, young man." I've heard the voice. Bob Dole is an American hero but so was my Mom, and as well as Bob Dole did in life, he had yet to impress Virginia by getting over his wounds emotionally and moving on.

13 Comments:

At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wasn't that weird how he assumed such a dour persona throughout most of his career, and then after it was over, he loosened up and became much more popular?"

Hey Bill, do you think....maybe just maybe it was the unfair press coverage that 'assumed' him that "dour persona"? Dole was jovial and witty many times in public, but the mainstream press doesn't want to broadcast that aspect of a conservative. Funny how you had to explain Dole's war credentials....because you rightly assume few knew them. Strangely, that does not seem to be the case with liberal war vets in politics. The press trumpets those credentials for liberal candidates and burries them for conservatives. A good example is how on the one hand, this current 'warmongering' administration is being lead by a bunch of "chickenhawks", but they never mention that the 'architect' of this war - Donald Rumsfeld - served his country for over 20 years in the Navy and reserves.

That being said, thank you for showing that you are not completely bias and over the edge by actually saying something nice about a conservative/Republican (first I've read on this site).

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I think even Bob Dole himself admitted the part about being too serious in public. As far as the wounds, I also remember reading that he got wounded three weeks before the end of the war so he had a tremendous feeling of life passing him by as he recovered. He also was from Kansas and they stuck him in a mountain division. I'm going to search for something to back the first part up, and the rest here is from memory so I'll try and check it.

 
At 10:16 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Here's a comment about Bob Dole being too serious during the campaign. Asked why he had been so funny on Letterman after losing he said, "It's all been pent up here, now, for 18 months," he told The Associated Press. "I can be myself again."

 
At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Rusty said...

Dole's "dour" public image goes back to the 1976 presidential campaign when he was Gerald Ford's choice as VP running mate, and it seemed at the time that his role in the campaign was to be the go-negative hitman, and he did it regularly. It turned a lot of voters off and it was a contributing factor to Ford's loss.

And yes I'm the same Rusty that Jack Bog banned for using the term "useful idiots," in reference to a bunch of flags.

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah.....Jack was on a tear that day. I think it was the heat that made him cranky.

 
At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Rusty said...

Ah.....Jack was on a tear that day. I think it was the heat that made him cranky.

Maybe, but also it's his own little private weapon to "win" the debate.

Sad, because for the most part he's got a good blog.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Anyone can start a blog. Thousands of people do. Jack is closing in on a million hits so he has made a big success out of his. I think it's like a restaurant. The owner wants the business unless certain people drive the other patrons away. Then it's not as pleasant for anyone. Most bloggers are not being paid, so I can also see a philosophy where it has to be somewhat fun. Or at least not irritating.
Jack's done a service and it takes gnads to stand up to the local powers that be. There's much less chance of Dick Cheney retaliating against me for a joke on the Tonight Show, than Jack is facing living here in the same city with the people he's writing about.
What gets me is when a site I like calls it quits. So I'd rather help sustain the effort than help end it. With some sites I feel like I'm being entertained for free, so why try and screw that up?

 
At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Rusty said...

I said for the most part he's got a good blog, okay?

But he's intolerant of points of view, particularly on a national issues, that contradict his.

Yeah, it's his blog, and, yeah, he's free to do with it as he wishes. But it nevertheless provides us with a little window into a little aspect of who and what he is, which is that he is someone who will silence those with differing views if he has the power to do it.

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger Rat said...

Rusty: Such conduct usually results from a combination of cowardice and arrogance.

 
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