By Susan Arbetter | Spectrum News | December 06, 2021, 6:45 PM ET
Bob Dole Remembered by Former Chief of Staff Jim Wholey
In the age before extreme partisanship tore a rift in Congress, Republicans like Bob Dole and Democrats like Ted Kennedy, together, could mount joint campaigns to get major pieces of legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act onto a president’s desk.
As the U.S. mourns former Sen. Bob Dole, who died over the weekend at the age of 98, many are also mourning the passing of a time when that kind of across-the-aisle deal-making was all in a day’s work.
James Wholey, a partner at the firm Phillips Lytle, was Dole’s chief of staff from 1989 to 1992. He spoke with Capital Tonight’s Susan Arbetter about what he sees as the three cornerstones of Dole’s remarkable legacy.
“I think he would like to be remembered for what he was always teaching all of us, which was number one, a belief in getting the peoples’ work done,” Wholey said. “Dole could be as partisan as anyone, but when he sent his staff out to go to the budget meetings, he would say, ‘just remember, end of the day, we got to get a bill.’”
“If you’re from Kansas you got to, as they say out there, ‘get ‘er done,’” Wholey recalled.
Dole was also deeply patriotic.
“His entire life story was one of deep belief in America despite his setbacks and despite its setbacks, his shortcomings and its shortcomings,” Wholey said. “He never stopped believing it at all.”
The last cornerstone of Dole’s legacy is his remarkable resilience, Wholey said. Given all that he had been through in his life — terrible injuries, lost elections, professional disappointments — he was able to pull himself through. It was why he was so proud of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Wholey explained.
“Speaking of his humor, I remember during the press conference, he worked on it with Ted Kennedy and he stood up and he said, ‘it’s an honor to be here with the senator from Massachusetts. Usually if we’re here supporting the same bill, it means one of us hasn’t read it.’”
The former Senate majority leader, war hero, presidential candidate and statesman will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.