Tearful Dole calls it quits in the Senate

With some tears, a typically rambling speech, but not a little pride in a job well done, Bob Dole yesterday bade farewell to the Senate that has been his life for a quarter of a century but which has turned into an obstacle to the one job he wants even more, the presidency of the United States.

For a day drenched in history, it started normally enough, with Mr Dole the Republican Majority leader rising at 9.45am to speak about an amendment to trade legislation and a bill consolidating Medicare funding.

But just after noon, he rose to speak again. And when he finished this time, he truly had become just Citizen Dole, "with nowhere to go but the White House, or home".

"I want to thank all my colleagues ... " he began, only to stop abruptly, choking, as he stood for the last time at the Majority leader's desk. But quickly he gathered himself, paying tribute to family, friends and staff, quoting Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, those Republican presidents from the Midwest he hopes to emulate.

Mr Dole's week of leave-taking here has had its hiccups, not least a defective sound system at the annual Senate-House Republican dinner on Monday, which turned some scheduled entertainment from Congressman Sonny Bono (he of Sonny and Cher fame) into an ordeal that had the audience fleeing for the exits.

Yesterday was different though - a morning in the finest gentleman's club in Washington, where everyone knew exactly how to behave. For two hours the tributes flowed from Republicans and Democrats alike, praising him for his courage, wit, grace under pressure and legislative skills.

It was the Senate at its most typical: unctuous, pompous and utterly forgiving, hiding partisanship beneath old-world manners. "He will cast a long shadow as he goes," pronounced Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a Democratic Majority leader and himself one of Capitol Hill's most venerable monuments.

In reply, Mr Dole lapsed into that familiar fractured syntax to describe the institution he has served for 27 years.

"I've had a great life, a few bumps along the way ... A lot of different views here, like America, that's what America's all about. We are the envy of the world, we've lit liberty's torch here, that's what America's all about, a beacon of hope ... Our best tomorrows are yet to come," he said.

Thus ends a Congressional career of 35 years, including a record 11 years as Republican leader in the Senate, and no less than 12,781 roll-call votes (the electronic era has yet to reach the floor of the Senate), which if they took place consecutively would last day and night for four- and-a-half months.

But "to everything there is a season", Mr Dole said, "and my season in the Senate is about to come to an end. However, this is far less the closing of one chapter than the opening of another."

When he finished, his colleagues gathered around him, applauding for a full 10 minutes until he left the chamber for ever. Sheila Frahm was sworn in as his successor.

Now the last and toughest battle begins. "Ad Astra Per Aspera," reads the Kansas state motto, "To the Stars Through Hard Times," and it could have been written for him. No Majority leader has, and only two sitting Senators - Warren Harding and John F. Kennedy - have been elected president this century, which is why Mr Dole yesterday called it quits.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing