Sunday, July 22, 2007

July 22, 1923:

Robert J. Dole's Birthday

Bob Dole, who celebrates his 84th birthday today, has a unique distinction among men who have aspired to be President of the United States. He's the only person to have been nominated for for both vice president (1976) and president (1996) by a major party, yet lose both times. There have been some who have won the vice presidency only to lose in their bids for the top job; and others have lost a vice presidential bid but who captured the presidency later.

Will he be remember for these unsuccessful bids for high office, his long tenure in the US Senate, his Viagra commercials, or his habit of referring to himself in the third person?

During the 1996 campaign, even the National Review seemed exasperated by the habit (from the column Misanthrope's Corner ):

"Welcome to the Doppelganger school of American oratory. At the rate Dole is going, his rhetorical onanism soon will become so deeply embedded in the soil of American politics that Pat Buchanan will have yet another abomination to rip out 'root and branch' -- except that Buchanan has begun using the third person, too.

"How long has Dole been doing this? A search of my files turned up a clipping from November 1992 in which he assured gloomy Republicans that Bill Clinton would not have a legislative honeymoon because: 'Bob Dole is going to be his chaperone.'

"From what is known about speech habits, it probably started much earlier than a mere four years ago. This is a question for a serious scholar to explore. If Dole wins the nomination, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason can do a film biography to show at the GOP convention. After the sunny optimism she brought to The Man from Hope, she can demonstrate her versatility by producing The Pronouning in collaboration with Stephen King.

"The camera pans over Russell, Kansas, following the candidate through his formative years . . .

To his mother: 'Bob Dole's hungry.'

To his father: 'Can Bob Dole have a quarter?'

To his teachers: 'Bob Dole didn't do it.'

To nice girls: 'Would you like to go to the picture show with Bob Dole?'

To bad girls: 'If you did it with all those other guys, how come you won't do it with Bob Dole?'

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