Bob Dole is a Corrupt, Political Hack
Having locked up the Republican presidential nomination, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is wallowing in the traditional press honeymoon. His courage in overcoming lingering disability from wounds suffered in World War II gets understandable praise. We're told of his hardscrabble roots in Russell, Kansas, his taciturn, Plains state conservatism. Bob Dole, mature, tested, patriot, a level-headed conservative.What a crock.The reality is that Bob Dole is a corrupt, partisan hack who has done well without doing much good for decades. He's been in Congress for 35 years, on the public payroll for 44, longer than most Americans have been alive. He's become a millionaire while on government salary, and has grown accustomed to the privileges accorded the powerful in a debased, imperial capital.Dole has been an acidic bitter partisan on the wrong side of virtually every defining issue of our time. He cast an early vote against Medicare, and has helped block universal coverage ever since. He was a staunch advocate of the debacle in Vietnam, raining scorn on the courageous Senators -- McGovern, Church, Fulbright -- who led the opposition to that bipartisan folly.A hitman for Richard Nixon as head of the Republican Party when the Watergate break-in occurred, he tried unsuccessfully to pull the plug on the television coverage of the Senate Watergate Hearings, hoping that the whole thing would blow over.Now about to present himself as moderate check on the excesses of Newt Gingrich, Dole has been slavish in his devotions to the radical right. He is against choice for women, against banning assault guns, against raising the minimum wage. He's for prayer in the schools. He abandoned his history of supporting for civil rights to posture against affirmative action. The career pol even groveled to embrace term limits.This supposedly tight-fisted conservative has cost taxpayers big time. As Chair of the Senate Finance Committee in the early 1980s, Dole ushered through the disastrous Reagan tax cuts and military buildup that created the massive budget and trade deficits that we still are digging our way out of. He supported deregulation of the Savings and Loans that cost taxpayers over $200 billion. He led the fleecing of working people by raising regressive payroll taxes, covered by the big lie that the money would be held in trust for Social Security. We'll get the bill for that duplicity in twenty years.Now he is supporting another round of tax cuts for the wealthy, shoveling more money at the Pentagon than it asks for, and shamelessly wooing California voters with the false promise to spend $36 billion for 19 B-2 bombers that the Air Force doesn't want.Over the years, this simple son of the Kansas plains has developed some pretty fancy tastes. After securing the nomination, for example, he repaired to his condominium in the exclusive confines of the Sea View Hotel in Bal Harbour, Florida. The digs are beyond the reach of the average public servant, but Dole got his condo at a price set by Dwayne Andreas, head of Archer-Daniel-Midlands, the agribusiness giant.Dole's ties to Andreas reek of what pundits call "legal graft." Andreas and his retainers have pumped in over $228,000 to Dole's political organizations since 1979. Cheap at twice the price: Andreas's company, ADM, manufactures about 60% of the country's ethanol, an industry that would not exist without a federal subsidy worth about $6 billion since Dole sponsored it twenty years ago, and repulsed efforts by Reagan and Gingrich to end it since.Dole wallows in money politics, like a hog in the muck. He has built a conglomerate of hard and soft money fronts to finance his operations. The Center for Public Integrity estimates that Dole raised over $47 million from 1973 to 1994 (before the current campaign) for his political campaigns and operations. "When the political action committees give money," Dole admitted to the Wall Street Journal, "they expect something in return other than good government."Dole is ever willing to take care of his own -- fending off sin taxes for US Tobacco, cutting inheritance tax breaks for the Gallo wine making family, scrabbling for special treatment for the Koch oil operations. Understandably, he has consistently opposed efforts to clean up the swamp of money politics in Washington.So salute Bob Dole for his service to the country in wartime 50 years ago. Admire him for his grit in dealing with the lasting pain from the wounds he suffered. Praise him for his relative vigor in his longevity.But can the pap about the simple man from Kansas. He's not in Kansas anymore. He's a career Washington pol, a denizen of Senate cloakrooms and Bal Harbour condos, accustomed to playing loose with the truth and fast with the buck, whose bad judgment and partisan loyalties have already cost each of us and this country more than we will ever know.