Skip to main content

tv   Senate Leader Lecture - Bob Dole  CSPAN  January 4, 2015 10:26am-11:21am EST

10:26 am
we had just come through terrible assassinations. the president got shot. we had watergate, all sorts of things. the water does not calm down. it may come down to a slow boil, but there is always things that make it very difficult. bob overcame them. >> how do you think he will be remembered? what will his legacy be? >> right now in my last campaign just over, we were at a parade in kansas, independence, kansas. we sat on the back of a white convertible. i had my arm around him sort of holding him up. he was incredible. he was talking to the folks. before us, we had four marines that were the color guard. if i heard it wants, i heard it a thousand times.
10:27 am
bob, thank you for your service. simply, bob, thank you for your service. that encompassed so many different things. it did not say 1983 social security. it was just that people really thank him. every once in aware -- in a while, there was a hi, pat too. >> thank you for joining us. >> i appreciate that. bob dole at the world war ii memorial, he is like a mother hen. the word gets out that bob dole is here and they all flock to him wherever he is. then the stories start. sometimes for the first time, the veteran tells a story he has never told anybody before. and it becomes a very emotional thing. he's almost like the minister or the priest or something. people come up to him and want to tell him a story because they know he has been there and they know he is responsible for that memorial. that is quite a thing to watch.
10:28 am
very emotional. >> thank you for being with us on american history tv. >> you bet. thank you. [applause]
10:29 am
>> my colleagues in the senate special family, former staff members, and guests, but especially our good friend, senator bob dole, and his lovely bride, elizabeth. welcome home. it seems quite natural seeing you sitting here. [applause] i could have asked senator dole to come up and join us on the platform, but somehow i thought he should sit in the leader's seat right there with elizabeth. i want to welcome you all to the six presentation in the leaders lecture series. this has been an exciting series. we have had fantastic presentations from great leaders of the senate and of course vice
10:30 am
president bush was here. we look forward to hearing from other vice presidents and leaders of the senate in the months ahead. this has been an enjoyable and worthwhile program. we are delighted tonight to have our friend colleague, and one of america's favorite sons back with us. before i officially turned the podium over to senator dole, let me call him my colleague and good friend senator daschle to speak on behalf of bob's democrat friends over these many years. senator daschle. [applause] >> on behalf of the entire senate, we are so glad you are here. welcome to the united states senate. we are glad you are back. a couple of years ago, the south dakota state chair, i saw a young man wearing a t-shirt that said "play hard, play fair."
10:31 am
you could use those same words to describe our honoree tonight. when he announced he was leaving this institution, bob dole said he wanted to be judged as just a man. i said at a time that history would surely judge him as something more. history would judge him as a good leader, a good senator, a good american. his life over these last four years makes me more certain than ever that that is so. from his leadership on kosovo to his work against cancer, bob dole continues to make important contributions to this senate and to the nation. when you come from a small midwestern state, you take pride in the achievements of other midwesterners who make it to the top by working hard and playing fair.
10:32 am
if they are forced to overcome adversity along the way, your pride is even greater. for those reasons and many others, i was proud to be able to serve with bob in the senate for 10 years. i'm proud today to be able to call him a friend. it was during the 18 months he and i served as leaders of our parties that i got to know him best. the conditions for a good working relationship, at least from my perspective, could not have been much worse. it was january of 1995. democrats had just done the impossible. we lost the majority, in both the house and senate. not only was senator dole now the majority leader, a position i had hoped to hold, it was also widely assumed he would run against a democratic president following year. add to that the general tumult
10:33 am
of those times on the hill, and by all rights, he and i should have had a lousy relationship. the fact that we did not was due to bob dole. to his civility, his pragmatism, his quick wit and self-effacing humor, and to his love of his country and to this united states senate. his sense of fairness and decency is a standard for which everyone in public life should aim. senator dole loves his party. that was something very clear to me. but there is something even more important than party. that is principle. he showed that when he broke ranks with his party to support the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965 and 1982. he showed it when he worked with someone i respected all of my
10:34 am
public life, george mcgovern, on landmark nutrition legislation. i'll always remember his farewell speech in which senator dole recalled working with george mcgovern to try to ease hunger in america was one of his proudest achievements in his senate career. his commitment to principle was evident in 1991 when he and our colleague, tom harkin, arguably did more for the disabled than anyone in our nation's history. it was then, when a guest political advice, he fashioned a resolution on bosnia that led to broad support for our troops being stationed there and which ultimately helped end the terrible suffering there too. i learned a lot from bob dole during the 18 months we served together as leaders. i was a was impressed when senator dole would come to my office for a meeting, a seasoned
10:35 am
leader coming to the newcomer the majority leader coming to the minority leader's office. the first time it happened, i wondered if it might be a psychological trick to throw me off balance. [laughter] i quickly realized it was one more demonstration of bob dole's grace and humility. sure enough sign he did not need the trappings of office. but i must say i later learned it was in coming to my office he could always determine when the meeting was over. [laughter] that is a smart leader. he is more than just a man. for me, he continues to be a living, breathing, lesson -- reading lesson in leadership. it was an honor to serve with him and it is an honor now to welcome him back home. [applause]
10:36 am
>> well done, my colleague. you certainly speak for so many colleagues here tonight that have served with bob dole and others that cannot be with us. before i introduce bob represent him, -- or present him because he does not need any introduction to this group, i think it is important i recognize one of his truly greatest assets, some would say clearly his greatest asset a lady that has served her country very well and honorably also. a lady of the south, from north carolina that had a tremendous influence in administrations of our former presidents, secretary
10:37 am
of transportation, secretary of labor, served at the white house. but many people remember her most for her service of the red cross and the many times she has flown into varies parts of this country when people were hurting, when there was disaster, when people were in need she was there assuring those people the red cross and the american people through the red cross and through various government agencies would be there and provide help. she's a great lady, and she has done eight truman this job -- a tremendous job in her leadership roles and also as the spouse of bob dole. ladies and gentlemen, elizabeth dole. [applause] there are some positions of authority and prestige in this country that have lifetime tenure. supreme court in other places,
10:38 am
the papacy, british royalty. we never really had it in the united states senate. but i am sure if bob dole had chosen, he could have had lifetime tenure as the republican leader in the senate. and in fact, he holds the record in length of service as the republican leader. sometime in the minority, and sometime in the majority. but he was truly loved by his colleagues, i believe on both sides of the aisle. and on many occasions he express that love and received it from his colleagues on both sides of the political aisle in the senate. one of the great moments i will always remember in my experience in the senate was bob's last day in the senate. not because i would be successor, but because of what he had to say and the beauty and emotion of that moment and the outpouring of respect everybody in that chamber and in the gallery had for him.
10:39 am
it was really a beautiful si ght. the love and appreciation for his leadership in the many legislative roles that tom expressed in his remarks will make that a memory in my mind as long as i surf your. -- serve here. but i do have one problem, bob. when you left, you did not leave the operator's manual to this place. you took it with you. although i think from our earlier discussion, that you gave it to tom daschle because i think tom got the operator's manual when you left. bob has all the things you need to be a national leader. as i thought about bob and his life beginning russell, kansas and all he has been through over these many years and local elected office, as county attorney after he returned from world war ii, and then in the
10:40 am
state legislature, in congress, in the house, in the senate, in leadership roles in the senate in the minority and majority, as chairman of the finance committee, as chairman of the spectral party -- national party, as nominee of his party for vice president and as nominee of his party for president. what a life. but when you look at abdul -- at bob dole and think about what he has done in the leadership you has provided for this country, he reminds me of what we have talked about so much lately, the greatest generation. if you think about it and say, who are these people? who was the greatest generation? it is our fathers and uncles. those men and women that lived through the depression, let us through the war -- led us through the war, war two, fought in that war, came back, got
10:41 am
educated and provided leadership at the local level, and then came on to lead this country. this is the generation that fought the wars. this is the generation that defeated fascism and nazism and communism and all the isms. if you really think about it, bob dole epitomizes that generation. you have been a great credit to your country, bob dole. you have set an example for so many of us to follow and try to accumulate. most of us will never be able to do it all because you started yelling and did some things and endured some things the rest of us will never have to endure, frankly because you did. he did not reach the top office, the presidency, but in a way i
10:42 am
think there is a higher position in the minds of american men and women. it is a role that only so few have achieved in our country. if you look back in history, of course, the adams, john and john quincy, grover cleveland, jimmy carter, they were president and then they achieved a role or position in the minds and hearts of the american people that exceeded the elective office they had sought. i think bob has reached that position. bob is loved and appreciated not so much for what he did, even though he is truly respected for that, but who he is. the stance he is willing to take, the positions he's willing to advocate that sometimes are not popular, sometimes a
10:43 am
against majority opinion sometimes against his own party, but always true to himself and his own inner compass. bob, i think you have achieved that role. even though you are part of that greatest generation, the thing that really makes you special is the kind of human being that you are. you will always be remembered and loved and revered in this institution. you will always be appreciated by the american people. for those of us in this chamber, you will always be our colleague, our friend, our leader, and one of america's favorite sons. ladies and gentlemen, join me in welcoming senator bob dole. [applause]
10:44 am
>> thank you. [applause] i am overwhelmed with the tributes by the two leaders. i don't know where they were when i needed them. [laughter] but it is a great honor to be here and see some of my colleagues. since i left the senate, there are 25 new senators. since senator thurmond came to
10:45 am
this chamber, there are 303 senators that have come and gone. some are still here. [laughter] so this is a great honor, and i am pleased my wife, elizabeth, is here, my daughter robin my former chief of staff, sheila burke, former secretary of the senate former deputy sergeant at arms, and my kansas delegation and of course my good colleague, the most popular states person in kansas, nancy kassebaum baker. the fellow she is with his howard baker. [laughter] and a lot of friends. one of our friends, larry harrison, you may remember larry. he worked in the men's restroom area for years. he died last night of cancer. as trent pointed out, you
10:46 am
mentioned about coming home. there an old saying that home is where the heart is. even though i have been gone from this building for nearly four years and have not been back but two or three times, a part of my heart will always remain here. and so is the other -- i'm very grateful for this opportunity. the voters of kansas have granted me the privilege of serving in the capital for over 35 years. 27 plus in the senate. my republican colleagues granted me the privilege of occupying the leader's office across the hall for over 11 years. i was a little nervous at one point when senator byrd came in to look it over after they reach of the majority -- retook the majority. but he was kind enough to not take the office. hubert humphrey once said about his own speeches that i did not think they were too long, i enjoyed every minute of them. [laughter]
10:47 am
well, in that spirit, i enjoyed every minute of my time in the united states senate. in fact, the question most often asked of me since leaving the senate is whether or not i miss it. to which there can only be one honest answer. the answer is yes. i miss the history and the tradition of this place particularly this majestic room where one can almost hear the passion and eloquence of such giants as clay and calhoun webster and thurmond. [laughter] 1859, is that right? [laughter] i missed the chance to debate on a daily basis the issues of our times. there are times when i even miss the quorum calls. what i miss most of all about the senate is the people in the senate. not just my colleagues or former colleagues but the people who make this place run.
10:48 am
gathered here this evening our senators, former senators, and probably one or two that that want to be a senator, those that work on my staff, and those of us that helped all of us in many ways in the capital. as i look around the room and in the gallery, all i see is friends. as i reflect on my years in the senate what first comes to mind are not legislative battles won or lost but friendships that were forged. thomas jefferson was inaugurated president in the room below us. he wants that friendship is precious not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life. thanks to the benevolent arrangement of things, the graders -- greater part of life was sunshine. much of the sunshine in my life stems from the people in this room and many others here in the spirit of memory. while i miss the senate, i have no regrets about the decision to leave. one thing i have discovered is
10:49 am
that there is indeed life after the senate. i am enjoying the private sector as well as the occasional opportunity to make a difference in the public arena. who knows? there are those who speculate come next january you might be looking at the husband of the president of the senate. [laughter] and seriously -- [applause] you have to think about that for a while, elizabeth. [laughter] i have looked forward to this evening since receiving the invitation from the majority leader, trent lott. i commend him for his vision and beginning the leaders lecture series. in preparing to come up here, it is kind of intimidating to come up here with all the power i see in this room, i first read carefully and reread the
10:50 am
lectures of the five previous speakers. i strongly recommend anybody who has not read those or was not able to attend or watch would have a better understanding of the senate and its unique role if you just took 30 or 40 minutes to read each of those. i'm especially honored to be in the company of the five leaders who have preceded me to this lectern. each in his own time has taught us important lessons about life and leadership. from president bush, i learned heated exchange need not impair close friendships. they must be set aside to realize what is best for america. from george mitchell, i learned the news -- something adlai stevenson had in mind when he called printable partisanship the lifeblood of democracy.
10:51 am
we were fiercely nonpartisan when applying the rules of the senate. senator mitchell and i are now on the -- in the same law firm. we take pride in the fact it took us only 15 minutes to gridlock the entire operation. [laughter] from howard baker, i learned one of the most important qualities a leader can possess is patience. he never confused civility with weakness, more generosity of spirit with surrender of principles. from my friend robert byrd, i learned a lot of roman history. none i have been able to use but i learned a lot of roman history. [laughter] we all continue to learn this institution can only survive if it offerings by rules. no one knows the rules of the senate he loves more than robert byrd. from mike mansfield, i learned straight talk is as truthful as taciturn.
10:52 am
mike mansfield without question holds the record for the most questions answered in media appearances. the press would ask countless questions, and he would say yep nope maybe. ready soon, they were out of questions and the program had better really -- had barely started. mike mansfield did not have to say much. if you got the votes, you don't need a speech. if you need a speech, you don't have the votes. since senator mansfield led majorities of 64 66, and even 68 senators, he rarely needed a speech. while some people count sheep when they go to sleep, i used to count senators. i would lie awake at night trying to get to 51 or 60. i would occasionally dream about how much easier it would have been with majorities like mansfield had were l.b.j.'s --
10:53 am
or l.b.j.'s majority or the 61 votes robert byrd had were george mitchell's and 103rd congress. i know senator lott with 55 would like more. but senator baker's high was 54, and mine was 53. the last time there were 55 republican senators was in 1929, which is pretty impressive considering there were only 48 states. [laughter] and strom was then a democrat. age may not bestow wisdom, but as some of us know, it carries certain privileges. among them the right to remember and perhaps distill whatever perspective comes with experience. there are countless memories wrapped up in nearly 10,000 days i served in the united states senate. 10,000 days. i'm not going to speak about
10:54 am
each one of them because i know we have limited time. but i would like to pick out a few that stand out. as i tried to whittle it down, it was difficult. but like all of you here, i remember the day i took the oath of office and signed the book is senators have done before and since. it was january 3 1969. i sat in the back row, the seat senator susan collins now occupies. i was sandwiched between arizona's two senators. very goldwater sat on my right. i was really impressed. i looked around and saw these giants i had heard about coming from the house. there were two senators who were most in my thoughts that day. one was [indiscernible]
10:55 am
and the other, the lakeville heart of michigan -- the late bill hart of michigan. we met 20 years earlier when we found ourselves together at the hospital in battle creek michigan. phil was less severely wounded and would spend all day running errands for the rest of us. he was one of the finest men i ever knew. on my last day as senator i wrote a note to my former percy jones calling from hawaii who back then weighed about 115 pounds and was the best bridge player in the hospital. i pointed him share of the percy jones hospital caucus and gave him my proxy to vote on any legislation that came up concerning the hospital. it was a safe bet because the hospital had closed many years before. [laughter]
10:56 am
we were friends then amber friends all through congress. let me add that back in 1969, the vast majority of senators had worn the uniform of our country. while there are still veterans in the senate, the number with military expense has dramatically decreased over the past few decades and will continue to do so. we all hope. we hope there are no more conflicts and wars. perhaps some of you have heard me repeat a story told about general george marshall. during world war ii, marshall was asked if america had a secret weapon and replied america's secret weapon was the best darn kids in the world. as some of you know, i have devoted a great deal of time these past few years trying to help raise $100 million for the construction of the world war ii memorial. i'm proud to say we now have $84 million. we are only $16 million short.
10:57 am
if i could get that this afternoon, it would really take a load off. [laughter] we can speak of that later. this memorial is not for the world war ii veterans who are here. it is to remind future generations of the sacrifices that are at times necessary to preserve liberty and freedom. along with remembering the contribution and sacrifices made by our veterans with memorials i have always carried with me the most -- the importance of remembering them in this building, in the capital. that is why those of us here must make certain the concerns of those who have or will risk their lives for our country are never allowed to slip through the cracks. the second day i imagine i'll senators remember is the day you make your first major floor speech or maiden speech as it was known years ago. for me, he was april 14, 1969.
10:58 am
nearly three and a half months after being sworn in. in those days, freshman senators were still seen but rarely heard. there were some issues you tackle because it is your duty. as a senator from your state. one of the great things about the senate is it also gives you the opportunity it gives all of us the opportunity all of you the opportunity to make a difference on issues on which you can offer some personal insight and expertise. april 14 was the 24th anniversary of the day i was wounded in italy. my first floor speech was about challenges faced by disabled americans. those issues remained on my agenda throughout all the years i was here. every year on about april 14, whether in or out of session i made a statement on the senate floor about the problems of the disabled. one thing i remembered in all that time is the white house
10:59 am
lawn with all the wheelchairs when president bush signed the american disabilities act into law nearly a decade ago. 10 years ago this july. i want to say thank you to the senators. there are many here on both sides who worked on this issue over the years. we thank you for it. phil hart was a good friend of mine. we were in the hospital together. dan new hampshire, too. he wants said he regarded politics as an opportunity to make a more humane life for everybody. and so it is as senators borrow from their personal experiences to make a difference for others. the third day i want to recall is the evening of november 4 1980, election day. my first 12 years in the senate were spent in the minority. the pundits figured that would
11:00 am
not change for years to come. ronald reagan proved the experts wrong. i can still hear the excitement and howard baker's voice telling me that is going to be the new chairman of the senate finance committee. the responsibility to be responsible. if you don't deliver, you will
11:01 am
have your feet held to the fire. i still marvel how howard baker who has been out of power for 20 years, can make history as was headlines. upon reflection, it seems to me that 24 years is the right time for one party to have uninterrupted control of the senate. the assured, your time is coming. according to my calculation in 2018. [laughter] no issue so bedeviled the new majority more than savings and social security. some for mayor? in 1981 i was appointed to the national commission on social security reform. the committee was chaired by alan greenspan.
11:02 am
given the politically charged atmosphere, the commission remain stalemated for nearly a year. a consensus seemed impossible. on january 3, 1983, the day the senate reconvene, my colleague approached me on the senate floor. notwithstanding the odds of the obstacles, we knew that we had to keep trying. we did. not just us, but other authors bob mars, who did a great job. within two weeks, a compromise was reached to allow social security recipients to receive their checks on time, and that system will be sound until 2034 and maybe even beyond. we reach an agreement only because no one got everything and everyone gave something. we succeeded in the spirit.
11:03 am
one of my principles is flexibility. i've always get this in mind, especially after another memorable day, november 20 9, 1984, when writing this room, i was chosen to succeed howard baker is republican leader. the next 11 years have witnessed their shares of successes and failures. i always try to keep two things in mind, first, i remember what most of us learn around here, leadership does not necessarily mean total victory. ronald reagan once told all of us that if you get 90% of what you want, or even 70%, then it's
11:04 am
a good deal. secondly, i knew that nothing else mattered if i ever forfeited the trust my colleagues. if you don't keep your word, it doesn't make much difference what agenda you try to advance. i remember one time i offered an amendment, you may recall that, we began proceedings and you offer the amendment, and it passed. while i disagree with readers who set across the out for me senators byrd, mitchell, and-- that was never on time when we distrust each other. we might question the other side's ideas, but rarely its motives, and never its patriotism. let me be clear in saying that as majority leader, iso no problem keeping my word.
11:05 am
i recall the events of may 9, 1985. my first priority as majority leader was to do something more than -- we put together a bold plan that would save $135 billion over three years. a contain something to offend every senator, not to mention every voter. it looked like we were headed for a tie vote, 49 republicans plus one courageous democrat from nebraska. the plan was for the tied to be broken by then by president bush. suddenly, people wilson was taken to bethesda for an emergency appendectomy. he later said it was a lobotomy. i caught his doctors and ask if he could stand the trip to capitol hill. how long did he stay?
11:06 am
when you have to be sedated? [laughter] our would he be sufficiently alert to take part in votes. i thought about sedation many times for some of my colleagues. [laughter] the doctor recommended he not make a trip. i also promised him good press coverage. [laughter] that will get any senator out of bed, i think. i will never forget the sound of ananda lentz and sirens at 2:00 in the morning. he was sitting in a wheelchair and hooked up to an iv being rolled into the senate chamber to a standing ovation to vote. unfortunately, the story did not end there. one thing you learn his leader is that biting a bullet risk that it may explode in your face buried that is what happened.
11:07 am
-- might explode in your face. that is what happened. we lost our senate majority and more than a few pundits on the deficit package. perhaps the most difficult day -- and there are a lot of difficult days in my years -- was 10 years later. the republicans are back in the senate majority after an eight-year absence. one of our items was a sin the budget amendments to the states. there were 14 senate democrats who would vote for the amendment. we were on the brink of success. we learned that i senator was
11:08 am
going to vote, no. i went to his office. i had elizabeth calling. i tried everything. mark was a man of his word. he said i can't go for it, but i will resign. you will you need 66 votes for two thirds. i rejected his proposal. while i strongly disagree with this position, i also respected any senator's right to vote their conscience. in looking back at my career, as we all would do someday, it's clear to me the defeat is as much a part of life as victory. maybe a lucky few get through
11:09 am
without setbacks are disappointments, but i never met a person. i'm not certain i would want to meet such a person. i would not envy them in the least. one of life's great milestones is to be thankful for the setbacks as well as the victories. success and failure are not polar opposites. they are part of the same picture. the picture of a full life where you have your ups and you have your downs. after all, as everybody in this room knows, none of us can ever lose unless we first find the courage to try. losing means that at least you were in the race. it means that when the whistle sounded, life did not find you watching from the sidelines. not far from this historic chamber stands a memorial to a senator whose greatness is universally acknowledged notwithstanding the controversies which once swirled around his name.
11:10 am
a senator's senator, robert taft, was the senate majority leader from january 1953 until his death in july of that year. in the words of one admirer, taft "lost no sleep nights worrying that he would be found out. he lost much sleep over the fate of his country. he knew to the end that his was a moral attitude toward life and that he'd given to his country his last full measure of devotion." in short, taft's conscience was clear. nearly half a century after his death, the taft carillon on the brow of capitol hill reminds us not of his greatness but of his virtue. virtue resists easy definition. it can't be measured by a pollster or massaged by a spin doctor. pragmatism can be a virtue. but under other circumstances, so can the willingness to risk
11:11 am
defeat for one's deepest convictions. the latter virtue was on display in this room on april 2, 1987. president reagan had decided to veto the $87.5 billion highway bill. my job as minority leader was to sustain that veto. senator byrd's job was to override the veto. at first we thought we prevailed by a single vote. of course, we hadn't reckoned with senator byrd. he moved to reconsider the vote, and convinced the late senator terry sanford to change his vote. the vote came the next day. in the interim, i met with the 13 republicans who had voted to override the veto to see if any would switch and provide the margin of victory. no such luck. at this point, president reagan said he wished to meet with the republican senators. not wanting to see the president embarrassed by what i believed was a losing effort, i advised against him coming to the hill. he came anyway to make his case in person. i can still see him pleading with steve symms -- steve was here earlier; i think he had to
11:12 am
go -- almost begging him. in the end, our one-vote majority turned into a one-vote loss. yet, while we may have lost on the highway bill, the bigger loss would have been to do nothing. as any true leader, president reagan knew that success is never final nor defeat fatal as long as you have the courage to act on principle. leaders stand ready to make the hard decisions and to live with the consequences. they don't pass it off to somebody else. they do what has to be done. and at their best, they accept change, even while adhering to the values that are timeless: to duty and decency, to courage and sacrifice, to public conscience and personal responsibility -- senatorial values, democratic values, american values. one president who had been vice president, president of the senate, for 8 years and who experienced both victories and defeats at their most extreme levels was richard nixon.
11:13 am
whatever you thought of the man, i believe that anyone who heard his remarks on january 20, 1994, at a luncheon arranged to acknowledge the 25th anniversary of his inauguration as president, will forever remember the event. there were over 100 past and present senators, from both parties, and members of the house gathered in the mansfield room. it was crowded. after lunch, president nixon stood and delivered, without a note, one of the most compelling speeches i have ever had the privilege of hearing. you could hear a pin drop as he took us on a world tour -- country by country, almost -- analyzing the political situation in country after country after country, as john warner, one of his early advance men, knows, only nixon could do.
11:14 am
as he spoke, i recalled the moving eulogy the president had delivered following the funeral of his wife pat less than a year before. the president had told the story of how his first granddaughter jennie eisenhower, had come to him and to pat to ask what she should call them. pat thought that "grandma" sounded a bit old and decided, "just call me ma." and president nixon answered his granddaughter's question by saying: "you can call me anything, because i've been called everything." as nervous laughter swept through the room, i looked over at george mcgovern, who, at my invitation, had joined the congressional delegation attending mrs. nixon's funeral. later in the day, a reporter asked george why he should honor the wife of a man with whom he had waged a sometimes bitter battle for the white house. and senator mcgovern replied: "you can't keep on campaigning forever." george was right. bob strauss and i used to do that when he was chairman of the
11:15 am
democratic party and i was chairman of the republican party at the same time. what happened? we became lifelong friends. there is a time and place for everything, including partisan politics. it was a lesson i tried to put to use on my last day as senator on june 11, 1996. many of my good friends and campaign advisers urged me to take advantage of the occasion. with all the media attention sure to be focused on my farewell address, it seemed the perfect opportunity to contrast my agenda with that of the clinton administration. drive a wedge. score some points. others thought i could help myself by taking a few parting shots at congress as an institution. i didn't take their advice, politically sound as it might have been, and for a simple
11:16 am
reason. like everybody here, i respected the senate too much to debase it by giving a campaign speech. i cared too much for my colleagues to deliberately inflame partisan divisions making things even harder for my successor. now, as i said then, i am a plainspoken man with a midwestern preference for candor over concealment. frankly, it has always seemed to me that some people in and out of the political arena take themselves a little too seriously. others confuse america's fortunes with their own ambitions. from personal observation, i can attest that few of the latter ever got very far. yet somehow america survives and even prospers. of course, any senator brings ambition into the fight. certainly i did. but ambition has to be allied to a cause bigger than oneself, greater than any election or political party. i also happen to believe that it is easier to get things done in this place with a sense of humor. after all, the united states is probably the only country on earth that puts the pursuit of happiness right after life and liberty among our god-given rights. laughter and liberty go well together.
11:17 am
indeed, as a weapon against injustice, ridicule can be as effective as moral outrage. i tried "outrage" in 1996. consider the irrepressible barry and goldwater. on being blackballed by an anti-semitic country club in phoenix, goldwater responded: "since i'm only half jewish, can i join if i only play nine holes?" long before there was an american dream, there was a dream of america. jefferson captured it in a single, luminous sentence when i he declared: "men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master." "men may be trusted to govern you themselves without a master." loving liberty as much as they hated tyranny, jefferson and his contemporaries believed that the greatness of america lay not in the power of her government but in the freedom of her people. at the same time, their democratic faith led them to reject bloodlines and bank
11:18 am
you accounts alike as the in accounts alike as the accurate measures of a man's worth. unfettered by ancient hatreds, inunfettered by ancient hatreds the founders raised a lofty standard -- admittedly too high for their own generation to obtain, yet a continuing source of inspiration to their descendants -- for whom america is nothing if not a work in progress. in an and in an and in an and in will my lifetime, i have seen american dreamers, many of whom pursued their dreams in the senate, crush nazi tyranny destroy jim crow, split the atom, eliminate the scourge of polio, feed the hungry, house the homeless -- with the byrd-dole bill, it happened to
11:19 am
be -- plant our flag on the an be -- plant our flag on the surface of the moon, and belatedly yet emphatically recognize the talents of women and others once excluded from the mainstream. it is precisely because i have experienced so much of our past that i have no fears -- no fears -- for our future, not so long as this institution continues to attract men and women who are in patriots as well as partisans, legislators who in combine idealism and realism, and who answer to posterity rather than polltakers. and rather than polltakers. anyone can take a poll; only a you true leader can move a and nation. thank you very much. [applause]
11:20 am
>> thank you so much.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on