tv Senator Bob Doles Farewell Speech CSPAN December 6, 2021 1:07pm-1:52pm EST
>> mido supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers can giving a front row seat to democracy. >> former republican senator bob dole of kansas passed away on sunday at the age of 98. as we reflect on former senator dole's work in congress, we will show you his farewell address in june of 1996. it is about 40 minutes. >> senator dole of kansas is recognized. sen. dole: i appreciate very much the resolution just passed. i know it can't have any
political advertising on it. [laughter] just has the name out there in lights the next few months. [laughter] i want to thank all my colleagues. i want to go back 136 years ago this summer. a committee arrived in springville, illinois. senator simon probably knows the story. to formally notify abraham lincoln that the republican party nominated him to run for president. history records that his formal reply to the news was two
sentences long. "as i surveyed the crowd of friends in the gallery and on the floor who have gathered outside his home, he said, "and now i will no longer defer the pleasure of taking each of you by the hand." so as lincoln said that 136 years ago, if all of us are leaving this year, i am only one, i know we have the same thoughts in the same emotions. if we could go out and shake the hands of all the people who are responsible for us being here, it would take a long time. you begin with your family. the job begins with your parents. your brothers, your sisters. and you think about all the support they provide.
and all the good things that happen. and you think about the senate. you think about your family, your remarkable, wonderful wife and daughter, who have seen victories and see defeats and put up, as all our spouses and children do around here, with late hours and all the demands that go with serving in the senate. so i'm very honored to have my elizabeth and my daughter robin in the gallery today. thank you very much. [applause]
and i know they joined me in expressing my deep appreciation to everyone here and the people of kansas. as all of us go back to living this year, leaving in a couple years, whenever, you think about the people who sent you here and the people who tried not to send you here. [laughter] once you are here, you forget about those. they are all your constituents, whether democrats and
republicans, or independents. four times my friends in kansas, republicans and democrats and independents, i believe, gave me their votes in the house of representatives, and five times they have given me there both to the united states senate. --their votes to the united states senate. i think all of us, such trust is the greatest gift to any citizen now democracy. everyone here will be forever grateful to our friends and our supporters who never gave up on us, who never lost their confidence in us. maybe they didn't like some of our votes, or maybe they didn't like other things. but when the chips were down, they were there. we think about all the phone calls and all the letters, all the visits, people who come to your office. big problems and small. we think about the town meetings
you have attended and i've attended, as others here have, town meetings all over america. they're pretty much the same -- they are good people, they have real questions, they would like real answers. i always thought that differences were a healthy thing, and that is why we are also healthy. because we have a lot of differences in this chamber. [laughter] i've never seen a healthier group in my life. [laughter] [applause] and then there is those on our staff. sometimes we forget to say thank you. i've had one member of my staff for 30 years. and others for 19, and so on. and they have been great. and they've been loyal and they
have been enthusiastic. and i think their idealism and intelligence has meant a lot to me, and i think a lot to other people in this body and other staff members and the people that were with them. and many are on the senate floor in the gallery today. i would just say thank you very much. we have had a little fun along the way, too. things get dull around here from time to time. you got to have a little fun. if you really want to have fun, you go out to the beach. [laughter] which is now my beach, and i will try to pack it up this afternoon. and all those who served in the senate -- i see some of my former colleagues here today -- all those who served in the senate, be it the parliamentarian or the page, we
thank you, i thank you for all of us for your time of service. and i don't want my friends in the press gallery to fall out of their seats in shock, but let me add acknowledging those who work here in this building, i also salute you. i think it is fair to say we didn't always agree with everything you said or wrote, but i know that what you do is as vital to american democracy as anything we do on, and we have to keep that in mind. i would say that it's been a great ride. a few bumps along the way. i've learned a lot from people in this room. i've even gone to senator byrd when i was the majority leader to ask him for advice on how to defeat him on an issue. [laughter]
if you've known byrd as long as i do, he gave me the answer. [laughter] but it wasn't easy. this man is determined. i know in his book, he says the great work about the senate. in the first book when i became the majority leader, he candidly writes in his book that he had doubts about this bob dole, because i might be too partisan. or i might not work with them in. --with a minority leader. but i have heard him say a number of times since that i demonstrated i was in that partisan-- wasn't that partisan, and b, if i understood one thing, as my successor would understand, that unless the two leaders are working together, nothing is going to happen in this place. we have to trust each other, as senator daschle and i have, as senator mitchell and i have, as
senator byrd and i have come and i have great respect for senator mansfield, senator baker. they didn't have the privilege -- i wasn't in the leadership at that time. i would say to all of those who have been in the leadership position, it's a difficult life. and after 2:00 today, when someone calls me about their amendment, i will say "it's all right with me." [laughter] [applause] bring it up anytime you want. i will not stand in your way. [laughter] and i'm looking at one of the giants of the senate right now, senator thurmond. and i looked at others on the way, senator byrd. i thought about senator baker and senator dirksen.
in many, many more, democrats and republicans, who love this place, who made it work. and i repeat frequently this statement -- i don't know if senator dirksen made it on the floor, a millionaire billionaire soon have real money. if only he would come back today, he would be a trillionaire. my friend hubert humphrey -- nobody understood how bob dole and hubert humphrey could be such friends. he used to say of his own speeches, "i never thought they were too long. i enjoyed every minute." [laughter] i remember in the hallway one day we were talking about talk shows and i was only watching talk shows in those days, and he was on every sunday. they used to be " issues and
--issues and answers for the normal guest. for hubert it was issue and answer, and the time was up. [laughter] and then there were senator mansfield, just the reverse. when he was on a sunday show, "yep, nope, maybe." [laughter] 10 minutes into the program they are out of questions. [laughter] i remember russell long. i remember during the reagan landslide i was going to be chairman of finance -- i didn't know how to tell russell. [laughter] but i didn't. i said, who is going to tell russell? nobody is going to tell russ. i remember the first vote had -- i got to sit in the chair.
when they call the roll, they called the minority side first and then the other side, and then mr. chairman. and he voted aye. [laughter] that is a true story. and then there is filled heart and dan inoueye. we all met in battle creek, michigan. lieutenant colonel hart, lieutenant inouye, lieutenant dole. we were all patients. the best bridge player at the hospital was inouye. the best man i ever knew was phil hart. yet pressure in his right elbow area. morning tonight -- he had pressure in his right elbow
area. morning to night, he spent his time running errands or getting tickets for patients to the detroit tigers games. h wifei owned the tigers at that time. there wasn't anything that phil hart wouldn't do not only the, but when he came to the united states senate. the last of the hospital caucus was dan inouye. he comes up regarding the percy jones general hospital. vote me present. and i could go on and on. not like senator byrd, because nobody can do what senator byrd does. but you think of all of these people who have come and gone and all the bright stars who are
here today on both sides of the aisle. and one thing you know for certain, it's a great institution. i have learned one other thing that we have all learned in this chamber and this town, your word is your bond. and if you don't keep your word around here, doesn't make much difference what your amendment may be or whatever it may be. it is important to all of us. as far as i know, everybody on either side has observed that rule. it is true in any business, any profession, but it is more true in politics, because the american people are looking at us and they want us to tell the truth. doesn't mean we have to agree. we can have different motivations. and i learned that leadership is a combination of background and backbone.
and i learned a lot, as i said, from the likes of senator byrd and others i've watched and watched. i know that senator warner, the first person ever mentioned to me -- we are both in the same place having lunch and he said, "you ever think about running for leader?" i said, me? so i thought about it. i thought ted stevens was going to be the leader. something happened on the way to the vote. [laughter] and i walked out of there surprised. howard said he knew i must be the leader. so i would just say that we all know how the political process works, and some people are cynical, some people don't trust us. but the people who watch us
think they have a better understanding. some people ask me -- i remember the speaker, the speaker is present somewhere -- telling me just 10 minutes ago, he understands more about the senate. we have different rules. i love the house of representatives. i never wanted to be the house of representatives chair. i wanted to be in the senate. where you can have unlimited debate. where any senator on any side of any issue can stand up and talk until they drop. and the record is held by the presiding officer, senator thurmond. sen. thurmond: 24 hours and 15 minutes. [laughter] [applause]
sen. dole: and that is why you are seldom asked to be in after-dinner speaker, i might add. [laughter] and i think sometimes we have to have everything, we have to have total victory. i won't settle for less. it has got to be my weight or no way. ronald reagan said if i can get 90% of what i want, i would call that a pretty good deal. 90% isn't bad. you can get the other 10% later. it is a small amendment then. people don't understand -- take the 90, work on the 10. i read that my resignation and my decision to leave because astonishment in some quarters.
i don't begrudge anybody there surprised. -- their surprise. i want to disabuse anybody about the senate. this is a great opportunity. there are hundreds and hundreds and thousands and thousands of people who would give anything they had to be a member of this body. that is the way it should be. very competitive. so i said the truth is that i would know more distance myself -- i would no more distance myself from the synod then i would from the united states itself. this body is the refection of america, what america is all about. we come from different states and different backgrounds, different opportunities, different challenges in our life . and yes, the institution has its
imperfections and occasional inefficiency. and we are like america, we are still a work in progress in the united states senate. so i would say to my colleagues, i remember way back when i ran for the kansas legislature, we had a democratic law librarian who thought that young people are to get involved in politics, and she found two republicans and two democrats and talk to them about running for the state legislature. we didn't know about politics, we didn't know what party we were in. we were students, veterans going to school on the g.i. bill. i thought about which party to belong to. i went back to my hometown in the courthouse and found out there were more republicans than democrats, and i became a committed republican. [laughter] not quite accurate, but my
parents were democrats. i remember the first time i was approached by a reporter. i was a law student, brand-new legislature -- i didn't know anything about anything. he said, what are you going to do for your district or something like that. "i'm going to sit around and watch for a couple days and stand up for what is right." that is what we all do around here, and i've done it over the years. and i would take a minute or two to indulge -- we all have different interests. i've been deeply involved in agriculture, as many of you have here. kansas is a farm state. when i came to congress, i was in the house ag committee, and i've been on the senate ag committee ever since. i'm proud of having served farm families in kansas and around america who make a lot of sacrifices.
i was advised by senator dorgan because of the water -- farmers make a lot of sacrifices. i remember back in the vietnam debate, some of us were clear and some were on each side of the issue. the so-called cooper church amendments, went on and on and on, week after week after week. whether we ought to withdraw troops or shut off funding, which i thought was wrong. as i look back on it, i think i was right, because we had courageous men like bob kerrey and john mccain and others in this chamber who were risking their lives, and they deserve our support. that was a big debate at the time. z and i have also been proud to be involved in nutrition programs. someone mentioned that earlier today. i remember working with senator
mcgovern, and that crops up now and then in conservative articles saying i can't be a conservative because i know george mcgovern. [laughter] i think george mcgovern is a and i'll confess, when we first -- when i made my first tour with george mcgovern, i said this guy's running for president. i wasn't convinced. there are a lot of skeptics in this chamber, probably some on each side. but you can't have pure motives, it's always something political. but after being on that trip about two or three days, i changed my mind. and senator hollings was in the forefront of that effort. he remembers how bad it was, in south carolina. and so we worked together on food stamps and the wic program and the school lunch program, particularly when it affected low-income americans. and i think, as i look at it, no first-class democracy can treat its people like second-class citizens. and i remember standing on this floor, managing the martin luther king holiday bill. we had the majority. it was a proud day for me. , as
no first-class democracy can treat its people like second-class citizens. and i remember standing on this floor managing the martin luther king holiday bill. we had the majority. it was a proud day for me. it's now a national holiday. and the first speech i ever made on the floor was april 14, 1969, about disabled americans. and there are a lot of people in this room who have worked on that program. and i know senator kennedy and senator harkin, and senator der burger, when he was here, and senator jennings randolf before -- maybe before many of you came, was in the forefront.
we stood with many who couldn't stand on their own. then the highlight was passing the americans with disabilities act. 43 million americans -- they're not all seriously disabled, but there are many in wheelchairs, many who can't even sit up. and it was a very impressive sight to be at the white house the day that bill was signed by president bush. and i'm forever grateful. i know senator kennedy and senator harkin and others are. have you ever seen so many wheelchairs at the white house at a signing ceremony? never. and now more and more americans with disabilities are full participants in the process. they're in the mainstream. so i remember in 1983 -- and i
know pat moynihan remembers, we were standing right over in this aisle -- we had a bipartisan commission on social security. we had met week after week, month after month, and it was about to go down the drain. we had about given up. everybody was disgusted. we were getting short-tempered. we were democrats and republicans. the late john heinz was a member of that commission. as chairman of the finance committee, i was member; senator moynihan was a member. and senator moynihan i think just by chance or fate or whatever happened to meet in this aisle on my right, and we said, we've got to try one more time. to rescue social security. one more time. it wasn't a partisan issue. and we did. that arch, we convened three more people. we had five of the commission. it wasn't long before we were back on track and we finally made it happen. and 37 million people have gotten their checks on time. and i think i read in "the washington post" just this weekend social security's going to be in pretty good
shape until the year 2029. so that's a pretty good fix. and it may be a pattern, as i said earlier today, we can follow on medicare for the long-term solution. take it out of politics, as we did on social security, make it work, make it solvent, and the people who get the credit are the people who get the checks. 37 million of them. so we reached across partisan lines. so i -- i worry a little about the future. i worry about our defenses. i know there are a lot of very talented people here who are going to continue to do that. i'm not even going to make a partisan speech or even a partisan reference. but i would hope that we will keep in mind that there are still threats around the
world. and also keep in mind that we're the envy of the world. i learned in a meeting with a lot of leaders, foreign leaders, as leaders get to do in this business, and the chairman of the foreign relations committee, senator helms, senator pell, and others, senator lugar, when he was chairman. i remember when the berlin wall came down and the soviet empire collapsed. a lot of people started coming to america, and they were leaders. and they were young and they were old and they were men and they were women. and they didn't come for foreign aid. the cynics said, "oh, they're coming after more of our money." they knew we didn't have any. but for the first time in 70 years, in some cases, they had a right to travel. they could get on an airplane without checking with the government and waiting for a year or two years or three years. they could go to church, they could vote -- all these basic rights that we take for granted. and they came to america. and i can still recall some
are now presidents, like lech walesa. some are leaders of their party. as they came to our offices -- and i'm certain it was true in every other office -- they didn't ask for money; they wanted to come to america to see america. they wanted to take a look at america. and i can recall almost everyone who left my office, sometimes with tears streaming down their cheeks, saying, "we want to be like america." we are the envy of the world. that's why so many people want to be like we are. so we have lit liberty's torch with a glow that can truly light the world. that's what america's all about. we're much more than a place on a map. we're the united states. and we're a beacon of hope. we're a magnet for the oh --
oppressed. and a shield against those who would put the soul itself in bondage. and i think we did that in kuwait. and we may be called on to do it again. but i would guess the one thing i would hope when they catalog all the amendments and all the bills and do all the commentary is that whenever it's all over for us here, that we've left our children something other than a legacy of debt. i mean, our children are important, and none of us have a perfect solution. but there's got to be some solution where we can come together, republicans and democrats, because everybody loves their children. everybody loves their grandchildren. we have all these young pages here. we have an example every day of young people who want to get ahead, who are willing to work.
they just want the opportunity. and i think if i could hope that anything might happen -- it probably won't happen today, but this year, next year. and i felt strongly about the balanced budget but not -- but not enough people d. but that will be around. and so i would close, with again, thanking all of my colleagues. i don't believe -- i'm just trying to think back. i don't think we've ever had any real disagreements. i remember one time -- i'll remind the democratic leader -- that i offered an amendment that you thought you were going to offer. and i made a mistake. i wasn't trying to one-up the senator from south dakota, so i withdrew my amendment. and then he offered the amendment.
i think that's called civility. so i would close with my hero, device eisenhower. -- dwight eisenhower. because he was our supreme commander. he also came from abilene, kansas. born in texas but quickly moved to kansas. [laughter] mr. dole: i would say to phil, he was only two years old. it took a while. [laughter] but in any event. this is his quote. "as we peer into society's future, we -- you and i and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today. plundering for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. we cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss of their political and spiritual hair --
heritage. we want democracy to survive for all generations to come. not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow." and i think those words are just as good today as they were 35 years ago when president eisenhower spoke them. we can lead or we can mislead, as the people's representatives. but whatever we do, we will be held responsible. we're going to be held responsible and accountable. and i'm not talking about 1996. i'm talking about any time, or the next century. so the bible tells us, to everything, there is a season. and i think my season in the senate is about to come to an end. but, the new season before me makes this moment far less the closing of one chapter than
the opening of another. and we all take pride in the past but we all live for the future. and i agree with the perry poet carl sandberg who told us, "yesterday is a wind gone down. a sun dropped in the west. i tell you that there's nothing in the world, only a notion of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows." and like everybody here. i'm an optimist. i believe our best tomorrows are yet to be lived. so i again thank you. god bless america. and god bless the united states senate. [applause]
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