By Ryan Whalen | Spectrum News | JAN. 13, 2021 5:58 PM ET
Fmr. Bob Dole Chief Of Staff Disturbed By Capitol Breach
BY RYAN WHALEN WASHINGTON, D.C.
PUBLISHED 5:58 PM ET JAN. 13, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Strangers insides the walls of the Capitol building approached the Senate Minority Leader.
In the early 90s, it wasn’t the same cause for concern the situation would be three decades later. James Wholey still tried to run interference for his boss, Republican Bob Dole, but it was too late.
The leader was already giving the lost tourists directions.
“Who do you work for,” they asked Dole.
Wholey was surprised they didn’t recognize someone who had been in the news so often, but he says Dole didn’t flinch.
“Do you pay taxes?” he asked. “Then I work for you.”
Wholey, now special counsel at Phillips Lytle’s Washington office, relayed the story to make a point. He believes when Dole, who eventually ran against Bill Clinton for president, was running things in the Senate, there was more of a sense of stewardship for “the people’s house” and a respect for the institution and history the Capitol represented.
Last week, he said he watched with a sense of rage as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and, in many ways, desecrated a building he considers almost sacred.
“It’s kind of holy ground as Americans have it,” he said. “It was a little difficult for me to watch.”
Wholey said there have been attacks on the Capitol before but never quite like this. He said the scale and the violence perpetrated make it unique in American history.
One of the things that bothered him the most were the attacks on Capitol police. He said while there may have been issues with some officers and the agencies leadership, the vast majority are well-intentioned.
“We called them the Capitol Cops, obviously, and they kept us safe. They took care of us. They were just the best women and men in the world,” he said.
As far as how the current Congress and the Senate move forward, Wholey said it’s not his place to weigh in, but he can see both sides.
“I do think words matter,” Wholey said. “I do think they have an impact and anyone in public life has to be sensitive to that. I don’t know that you can predict this kind of behavior by people en masse.”
Wholey said he believes in the time of Dole, Democrats and Republicans saw each other as rivals, but not enemies. He said he doesn’t know to what extent things have changed but is hopeful the shocking events of last week might spur people to begin working together more.