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Robert Dole
Robert Dole
Historical Almanac of the United States Senate
ISBN: 0160064066
Historical Almanac of the United States Senate
Senator Dole (R-Kan.) discussed his book, Historical Almanac of the United States Senate, which is a compilation of speeches he made on the Senate floor during the 100th Congress. Over the two-year period, Dole gave hundreds of "Senate Bicentennial Minutes" describing the first 200 years of the Senate. This collection of stories provides insight into the people, politics, customs, and memorable events of the Senate. Dole points out the historical significance of what are often seen as "minor blips" in the Senate's workings. The book is printed by the Government Printing Office.
Historical Almanac of the United States Senate
Program Air Date: September 9, 1990

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Senator Bob Dole, Republican leader of the United States Senate, you recently authored a book called "Historical Almanac of the United States Senate." What role does history play in what the Senate does?
ROBERT DOLE: Well, it plays a great -- well, it is history, as I look at it. And look at my office; I'm in an office where the British set fire to the Capitol in 1814 -- the old Senate chambers right across the hall from my office. But it's all about history; it's about senators; it's about things that have happened in and around the United States Senate. And I must say right up front, much of the credit for the book goes to Dick Baker, the Senate historian. And it's on sale, the Government Printing Office, for $28. None of the funds go to me or any other senator.
LAMB: Well, the audience can see a picture of it. It's a dark book, and we'll show them a lot of what's in this as we go through the hour. When...
DOLE: What we did, starting in 1987, in January, I think a series of about 312 different little one minute speeches I made on the Senate floor in 1987 and 1988, and that, in essence, is the almanac. And we picked out, again, with the help of Dick Baker and his staff, you know, points we thought might be of interest: some members I served with, some I've never known before, people like Carl Hayden, who had the longest tenure in the Senate -- 42 years, Mrs. Felton, who served one day in the Senate, from Georgia. So it's just filled with that kind of information.
LAMB: Which one's your favorite, or do you have one of these?
DOLE: I think the favorite is one by a Senator -- I should remember his name -- who in 1806 said that speeches didn't have any impact on their colleagues and didn't change any votes, and we keep trying to remind our colleagues of that today. But we still have a lot of speeches.
LAMB: I think if I've found the right one -- 1806, March 12th -- William Plumer of New Hampshire...
DOLE: That's right. Exactly.
LAMB: ...carefully quoted his involvement in Senate activities between 1803...
DOLE: He was only there four years, but...
LAMB: He said, "I have for some time been convinced that speeches in the Senate in most cases have very little influence upon the vote." Do you agree with that?
DOLE: In fact, he talks about speaking to empty chairs, and at that time they had no stenographers; now we have stenographers, but you still speak to a lot of empty chairs. But we're hooked up with our offices and we can watch television, hear it by audio. Some members of the staff do listen, but most senators are busy in committee meetings and doing other things. So I've always had the feeling that most members make up their mind; they have the committee reports, as he refers to Senator Plumer. They had committee reports; they had information; they talked to each other. And rarely does somebody change their mind based on a Senate speech.
LAMB: Why do you do so much of it then?
DOLE: Beats me. I mean, I keep trying to -- I refer to this gentleman. We encourage our colleagues as recently as going out before the last recess. We're up till 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning because some member just couldn't stop talking. But the Senate has always been that way. I don't think it'll change in my lifetime, and hopefully it'll remain unique and distinct in many ways.
LAMB: How is it distinct from, say, the House of Representatives?
DOLE: Well, the House -- and I served in the House for eight years -- the House is different because you had different rules and you have a Rules Committee, for example. They can say that on this bill there are going to be two hours of debate. In the Senate, unless you have a time agreement, unless you agree on the length of time, you can debate it for two or three or four days or, in some cases, as long as the majority leader, the leader of the Senate, wants to keep it up there; he may have to take it down. So there's a distinct difference between the House rules and how the Senate operates and there's a reason for that. Of course, in the Senate we're supposed to be -- I don't say more thoughtful, but have more time to reflect on the issues and debate it. If it's some big, big issue, long enough so that people in my state of Kansas or wherever, maybe two or three days later, would have a time to react to what the debate might be.
LAMB: Here's a photograph, fairly familiar.
DOLE: Yeah.
LAMB: I think it was Senator Moynihan, once said, "This is the most photographed building in the world." The chapter here is called The Modern Senate, and one of the things about the modern Senate is you've gone on television.
DOLE: Gone on television.
LAMB: Has that lengthened, shortened, changed anything?
DOLE: Well, there are a lot of speeches made about how it was going to lengthen. In fact, I resisted television in the Senate, but it did happen when I was majority leader. I changed my mind, and I must say, as I look back on it, I don't see any difference at all. And I don't find members, quote, "hogging the camera." Some members talk more than others; some members talk too much, but they haven't changed; they're still the same members before television and after television. But I don't see any abuses of TV in the Senate. In fact, I think it's been very helpful. And as you know through your work, you got, I don't know how many thousands of viewers across America who become sort of addicts to Senate proceedings or House proceedings.
LAMB: The reason I ask that is that if you go back through this almanac here, you can find times when there weren't even any of the public allowed in the galleries, and there was a time where senators were elected by the states.
DOLE: That's right.
LAMB: Why was it changed?
DOLE: Well, it was changed for a number of reasons. First of all, there were so many deadlocks in some of the states, and there was a feeling by progressives that it should have been changed. You should have a direct election of senators; you did for House members. But I think there were so many deadlocks when you had splits between state legislatures, Democrats and Republicans, and the state Senates, that it finally became pretty obvious that we need to make a change. It was resisted until the end, but I think the change was in the right direction.
LAMB: March 12th, 1959, this is what is featured here, and you've got -- first of all, here on this -- where is this picture that will be on the screen in just a second?
DOLE: That's in the Senate Reception Room, which is a room that's used a great deal. In fact, members will meet their guests there, and that's where -- I'll say the term, not critically, lobbyists will meet and ask senators to come off the floor; they make their point of view; where you meet constituents.
LAMB: Over here are five portraits of senators, and we start up here with...
DOLE: Calhoun.
LAMB: John Calhoun. Who was he?
DOLE: Well, he was a senator from South Carolina; one of the great senators of all time and one of the five greatest senators, as that picture will tell you. But I think he had a great impact on a lot of legislation.
LAMB: Go down the list. Here we've got Henry Clay.
DOLE: Henry Clay from Kentucky, who always wanted to be president, never quite made it, to resign from the Senate. But again, these are members who had enormous impact on the Senate, the last being Robert Taft Sr., who was a Republican and left the Senate in 1953. In the middle there you've got ...
LAMB: Robert LaFollette Sr. there right above him.
DOLE: Robert LaFollette Sr., who was strong in foreign policy, from the state of Wisconsin. So there, I might say there are a few blank spaces left, so if they ever want to update or add to those five, it can be done. And I think it's well to point out that former President John F. Kennedy was chairman of the committee that selected the five greatest senators.
LAMB: The one we left out here was Daniel Webster. And once again, it was John Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Robert LaFollette Sr. and Robert Taft Sr.
DOLE: Robert Taft.
LAMB: There are 12 spaces left for these photographs to be -- or these paintings to be done over there. If you were to name others that you think were as important as these five in history, who would they be?
DOLE: Well, I hate to name names, but certainly, Richard Russell would come to my mind as I happened to serve with him; didn't know him well, but he's known as a senator's senator; probably had more influence. He was chairman of the Armed Services Committee and the Appropriations Committee; probably had unparalleled power. He's been succeeded -- not directly -- but Sam Nunn, I think, fits that same mold now as being a senator's senator, and have a very powerful -- certainly, he would be in the group. I would say Robert Byrd from West Virginia -- Senator Robert Byrd, who knows more about United States Congress and the Senate, particularly, than any living person. In fact, he has a multi-volume history of the Senate. Robert Byrd is pictured there. In fact, he was very helpful in my effort in the "Almanac of the United States Senate." But he'll go down in history as one of the great senators, not only because of his knowledge, but because of his power as majority leader, chairman of the Appropriations Committee; he's had a number of Democratic leadership posts over the years. Scoop Jackson, certainly another one, in my view; Senator Dirksen -- Everett Dirksen, a Republican from Illinois. Senator Jackson, again, a man of enormous influence, well respected by Republicans and Democrats. And I might say that's sort of the key, maybe not of greatness, but of getting things done. You've got to have the respect of your colleagues in both parties, and certainly, Senator Dirksen and Senator Jackson; I think Senator Baker, too, being a first majority leader after a long, long period of 25 years of Democrats in the majority in the Senate, will rank among the great senators of this century.
LAMB: Let me show the audience this picture, because it's at the corner of Constitution and First streets. And you can see a little bit here of the Richard Russell Building, and then you go next here to the Everett Dirksen Building, and if you keep on going, you can see the tip of ...
DOLE: The Philip A. Hart Building.
LAMB: ... the Philip A. Hart Building. What was it that Philip A. Hart did, from Michigan, a Democrat that got his name on a building?
DOLE: Well, one thing that Philip Hart did -- we served together in the hospital after World War II, not that I had anything to do with the name of the -- he was a fine man. He was a Democrat from Michigan. He was lieutenant governor of that state. His wife was Janie Briggs. At the time, the Briggs were involved in the automobile business, and they owned the Detroit Tigers. He used to bring tickets to those of us in the hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan -- tickets to the Detroit Tigers game. I think Phil Hart was known for his -- he was just a genuine person. I've never known anybody who was just totally objective, never had an unkind word to say about anyone, and I think that's why the Hart name is attached to the Hart Building -- because of the great respect everyone had for Phil Hart.
LAMB: Why is the name Everett Dirksen attached to that building?
DOLE: I'd say pretty much the same for the Dirksen -- when they started naming the Russell Building, the Dirksen Building, the Hart Building. I think in the case of Dirksen and Russell, probably more of a legislative record and more legislative legends, but, again, they were respected. They made a difference, and, therefore, the buildings were named for them. I'd say the Hart Building's the most expensive. I think the price tag's about $138 million, as compared to around $40 some for the Dirksen Building.
LAMB: You brought along some statistics, I see, on that paper there. You gave some of them in the beginning, but how many -- again, how many members have served in the United States Senate?
DOLE: Nineteen hundred and -- 1,793, excuse me. So over a period of 200 years, that's not very many. The average service is about 15 years. And we've had a big turnover in the 1980s. We've had about 60 people come to the Senate in the 1980s; 44 are still there; some were defeated; some left. So it's a fairly young institution. And as I said, Carl Hayden from Arizona served for 42 years. We have Rebecca Felton, who was the first woman. She set three records; she served first woman; she was the oldest; she was 87; and she served one day. And she was only there long enough to get her picture taken, which appears on one of the pages. I'm not sure which page she's on, but ..
LAMB: Well, we can find it.
DOLE: ...but it's an interesting photograph. But we now have Strom Thurmond, who's 87, running for re election, so that's not an age that bars you from the US Senate anymore.
LAMB: You first were elected to the House of Representatives.
DOLE: That's right; in 1960.
LAMB: What's the difference between serving in the House and the Senate -- not the difference in the rules, but difference in the way you feel about your job?
DOLE: Well, there's an old story -- they say when you leave the House and go to the Senate, you improve the intelligence level of both bodies, they used to tell me that when I first left and went to the Senate in 1968. I was very proud of my House service, but there is a difference in the Senate. You have more opportunities. In the House you're sort of -- you're on a certain committee or maybe two committees, if you're there long enough, and you specialize in, say, agriculture or energy or education. In the Senate, obviously, you hve committee assignments, but you're pretty free to do whatever you want to do. And there aren't any rules anymore, that you don't sit around for the first six years. You start acting the first day you're there. So I think it's more freedom, the more opportunities. I know a number of outstanding House members who don't get the credit they deserve for legislation because, I must confess, the media has a tendency to go to the Senate side. Senators are -- are generally, you know, more well known, maybe not for any real reason, but many of my House colleagues who probably know much more about topics are rarely consulted.
LAMB: What's a day for you like? What time do you get to the office? What's the -- -- you know, sometimes we see you on that floor till midnight.
DOLE: Yeah, sometimes I'm there all night; not too often, but...
LAMB: How...
DOLE: Well, it depends. I mean, we try to be flexible. If you have to come in early for a breakfast meeting, I'm generally there -- can be there at 8:00, but I generally try to arrive about 8:30, quarter of nine. But normally, you have a breakfast somewhere or a speech somewhere before you go to work, and you're there most every evening until 7:00 or 8:00, and not unusual to be there till 9:00. And, of course, then you'll have your different functions in the evening, which take time. So it makes a long day, but I don't complain about the hours. I like the setup.
LAMB: This is a hard question to answer, but where are you when we don't see you on the floor? As the Republican leader, what are you most of the time doing?
DOLE: Most of the time you're in meetings with your colleagues or somebody from the White House, in the case of being the Republican leader, the Republican president, or you may be at a White House meeting. But most of the time you're in meetings and then trying to carry out your own committee assignment -- the responsibilities. But primarily you're right down the hall in the Republican leader's office, which is probably 20 yards from the Senate floor. You're engaged in one meeting on civil rights, a meeting on agriculture, a meeting on the budget. So we have a lot of meetings.
LAMB: When we see you come back on the floor and you and, say, the majority leader are there, not too happy with one another. Is it of ...
DOLE: That doesn't happen very often. It's not that we're not happy; we just have different roles to play and different responsibilities.
LAMB: Is it possible that you've just been in a meeting with him, you've come on the Senate floor, and then you have this back and forth?
DOLE: Well, normally when we have meetings, we're in there resolving problems, not trying to create problems. But sometimes we just have a different view. The Republicans have a different view than Democrats. But my view has always been, the two leaders have to work together. I remember when I became majority leader -- I think Senator Byrd will say it in his book -- that he was very suspicious because he didn't really know Bob Dole that well, hadn't worked that closely with him, and knew me to be fairly partisan sometimes. But we came to be good friends, and we trust each other, and we never surprised each other. The leaders have to get along, is a point I'd make. If the two leaders can't get along, you can't run the Senate. That doesn't mean we can't have differences on issues, maybe even partisan differences, but you've got to try to move the legislation. If not, you've got to be honest with each other and say, "We're not going to let you bring this up. You're going to have to invoke cloture" -- in other words, shut off debate. But you have to get along, and I think Senator Mitchell is doing a good job as majority leader, and we have a good relationship.
LAMB: Within the last year and a half or so, we've seen you get mad.
DOLE: Well, not very often.
LAMB: But enough that we remember it. When the viewers see it, and they comment on it, though.
DOLE: Yeah.
LAMB: Is that something that just wells up in you or do you do it deliberately?
DOLE: Getting mad -- I mean, I've never, you know, cursed anyone or anything like that, but I remember the last civil rights debate. I've got a good civil rights record, and I really resented having the Democratic majority, in effect, shove this down our throats and making me vote against the civil rights bill. It made me mad, because I have got a flawless, I think, flawless record in civil rights. And I believe strongly in civil rights, and to have to take an opposite position when we had any debate, and not a single civil rights amendment offered to the civil rights bill, to me, was unseemly. And I said so. I said we were treated like bums. And I think we were. It was a case of the majority, I think, moving too quickly to satisfy something that, I don't know, I don't think we were in that big a hurry. Sometimes we need time to work out serious problems.
LAMB: When you do show anger like that, do you get feedback from viewers out there, people watching it? Do people...
DOLE: Well, yeah, some feedback is, "Good, you're finally standing up for something, or you're fighting those Democrats," or whatever. I mean, that's not really what it is. I'm not fighting anyone. I'm just -- in that particular case, I was expressing my own views. And, frankly, some frustration with Republicans who were siding with Democrats, and it's my responsibility to work for the president. We were working with the White House trying to put something together, and it was all pulled out from under us. So it was frustrating, but that's a rare occurrence.
LAMB: Is it at all frustrating, having run for the president, and finding yourself in a role of having to defend this president all the time?
DOLE: Oh, not frustrating. It's difficult sometimes, not because you ran for president, but, you know, when you're in the minority, and I think the viewers -- maybe, just to refresh their memories -- there are only 45 Republicans and 55 Democrats in the present Senate, and some people write in, "Why don't you do this or why don't you do that?" Well, as you know, Brian, in our business, it's how many votes do you have? And if you don't have the votes, you don't do anything. That 45 plus some Democrats is a majority, but normally the Democrats are well disciplined. They have a majority. Sometimes we can't produce for President Bush, but we can sustain vetoes. We've sustained every Bush veto in the Senate and in the House this year. In the last two years, he's vetoed 13 bills, and we'll sustain additional vetoes before the year is out.
LAMB: Do you like it when he vetoes things?
DOLE: Well, I like it when I agree with him when he vetoes things, but I like it better when I have the 34 votes, which is required by the Constitution, to sustain a veto. So we have some Republicans who, you know, nobody ever marches in lockstep. We shouldn't; we all have an independent streak. And s -- so it's hard to get 34 votes out of 45 sometimes.
LAMB: Are you happier with all this sunshine on politics compared to what it, say, was when you first got into the business, when a lot of decisions were made behind the scenes?
DOLE: Generally, I think so. I think sometimes -- the only thing about everything being in the open, there are members from time to time who do some posturing -- and I don't fault the media -- but play to the media, and it delays the process. Now if you get into a smoke filled room, sometimes you avoid that. But even now, we we don't call them committee meetings; we call them informal sessions. When we go in the back room, we've got to make tough decisions, say, on taxes. We know if we do it out in the open, it's never going to happen because the word's going to leak out. But I think generally the system works pretty well. I mean, nearly everything is made public.
LAMB: Let's go back to the book. Here is a picture, depending on what's your age -- no, no, the other one, Mark. Depending on what's your age, you'll either recognize this picture instantly or you'll say, "Who in the world is that?" What does it mean to you when you see this picture?
DOLE: Well, it means that there's an era of McCarthyism. It means in that particular picture that in December of '54 he was censured by a vote of 67 to 22. And he carried on a crusade. Fact, I remember my predecessor in Congress, Wyn Smith from Mankato, Kansas, was a strong backer of Joe McCarthy. He thought there were Communists in the State Department, and he felt that McCarthy was unfairly treated. But, you know, now we say it smacks of McCarthyism when we think somebody has gone too far. That's what it means when you see a picture of Joe McCarthy...
LAMB: You ...
DOLE: ... senator from Wisconsin.
LAMB: ... you just had to, I guess, denounce a senator, a colleague of yours, a Republican. Is that hard to do?
DOLE: Very difficult to do, but it was much less than censure, but it's still difficult to do. David Durenberger is a friend of mine, but as he said, he violated rules and, as a result, he, in effect, asked us to vote for the denouncement. It's not easy to do.
LAMB: Here's a picture of Robert A. Taft Sr., and there's a memorial to him over on the grounds of the Capitol, the only one like it in the entire area.
DOLE: Privately funded.
LAMB: Why is it there?
DOLE: It's there, I think, again, because of the great influence that Robert Taft had, and his great belief in the free enterprise system. And that's why it's, in effect, a private memorial, no public funds involved, as far as I know.
LAMB: Do you remember much about him? Did you ever know him?
DOLE: I knew him, but I knew, of course -- know his son and his grandson. Bob Taft, his son, served with me in the United States Senate, still practicing law in Cincinnati. Bob Taft's the grandson is now running for secretary of state in Ohio, and may be elected this November.
LAMB: When you see this picture, what do you think of?
DOLE: Well, I think of Lyndon Johnson; I think of a lot of things. But he certainly was an effective leader. He was the youngest floor leader ever elected in the Senate. I think he was -- what? -- 42 or 44 years of age when he was elected. He was in his first term. He was elected over people like Richard Russell. Senator Richard Russell didn't want to be the leader. He wanted to stay in the background. Senator Johnson later became majority leader and then president of the United States. I remember well meeting with him during a great famine they had in India, and I went over with then Congressman Robert Pogue of Texas at President Johnson's request to look at the Indian famine in 1962, I think it was.
LAMB: How did he do his job compared to the way you do your job either as majority leader or minority leader? What's the difference?
DOLE: I think the difference is he had bigger majorities. And he was very effective, he was very tough, and they had party discipline. You didn't stray when Lyndon Johnson was majority leader or you were punished. And we don't have any punishment. Members can, in effect, thumb their nose at us and say, "I'm not going to vote with you; I don't got to vote with Bush." And we're powerless to do much about it. We have pretty good discipline. But in those days, when Johnson was majority leader, you know, he made them stick together.
LAMB: Are you tough?
DOLE: I hope I'm not tough in the bad sense, but tough in a sense of party discipline, yes. I mean, we have are Republicans, just as Democrats have a responsibility to stick with George Mitchell. I think they do a pretty good job; we do a good job. But sometimes, you know, you hate to lose when you think you're right.
LAMB: You said that he had good party discipline back in the time. What's changed? Why don't you have the same party discipline that he had or why doesn't George Mitchell have it?
DOLE: Well, I think it's just like everything else that's changed. People are, I think, more independent these days, and maybe it's more publicity, more media, more -- you know, somebody say, "Oh, I can't vote with you; I already said on a TV show that I'm voting the other way." So they're staked out, in effect.
LAMB: Here's a picture. We've seen a couple of gentlemen earlier.
DOLE: That is that Kennedy, Jackson and...
LAMB: Mike Mansfield.
DOLE: Oh, Mike Mansfield is the umpire. Well, he was another senator who served a long time as longest serving majority leader in the United States Senate. He's now 87, still very active. He was ambassador to Japan. Again, respected by everyone. His greatest friend was a senator from Vermont, who he had breakfast with, George Aiken, every morning. While they were in the Senate, they sat down together, Republican and Democrat, and talked about the day's business.
LAMB: And Senator Mansfield served in three different services, I believe, that you write in here -- the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Army, served as ambassador to Japan, but when he was -- I remember when he was...
DOLE: Served in the House, too, as well as the Senate, so...
LAMB: And when he was a majority leader. I think he still holds the record of the most questions asked and answered on ...
DOLE: Yes.
LAMB: ...on "Meet the Press" -- I mean, like, 57.
DOLE: He would say, "Yes," "No," "I don't know." I mean, there were a lot of questions within seven minutes or eight.
LAMB: Did you know him?
DOLE: Oh, I know him very well; still know him very well. He's a fine -- he's a good friend of mine, and I see him often, and he's still very active at 87.
LAMB: How did somebody with that personality, that "yes no" personality, get elected majority leader, and could he be majority leader today with all the television?
DOLE: Well, again, I think you have to sort of work at it, but I think, yes, if you had another Mike Mansfield, certainly they could be majority leader. I mean, he was a laid back, no nonsense person. He wasn't out seeking headlines. He just did his work and, again, gained the respect of his colleagues and became the leader.
LAMB: There's a Vandenberg Room, I think, over there in the Senate, and here is a picture of Arthur Vandenberg, who was -- what? -- chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee at one time?
DOLE: Right. And was sort of the leader of bipartisanship, and foreign policy sort of set the tone in those days for bipartisanship. He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
LAMB: Do you have bipartisanship in foreign relations today, in your opinion?
DOLE: I think so. You've looked back over the years. You look -- it's been happening in Eastern Europe and Iraq and all these areas. You've had pretty strong bipartisanship. We've had problems with China. That's one where I think we haven't had bipartisanship because of the Tiananmen Square incident and a feeling, particularly by Senator Mitchell, that President Bush made a mistake. That's been politicized. But I think President Bush was correct. We've got to continue some relationship with People's Republic of China if we're going to make it work. And they demonstrated in their actions condemning Iraq that you've got to keep them in the orbit. You've got to keep -- you can't isolate a big country like China with over a billion people.
LAMB: Is there any other country in the world that has a legislative body like the US Senate that you know of?
DOLE: Not that I know of, and, of course, it was, I think, Hamilton who wanted to give us life terms in the Senate. Fortunately, they agreed on six year terms. They wanted to make us like the House of Lords in England. But, no, I don't know -- and I think there was, in the early days, a feeling that, well, the Senate should be sort of the monied -- represent the monied class. I must say, there are a number of millionaires in the Senate, but I don't know of any other body like the Senate.
LAMB: Speaking of money, do you get tired of raising it?
DOLE: I hate to raise it. I hate to make phone calls. Fact, rarely make a phone call to ask people for money. It's demeaning, and I think it must be on both ends of the line.
LAMB: Do you raise it then just because you're who you are? I mean, do people give you money?
DOLE: I raise it because you have to raise it if you're going to run for office.
LAMB: Well, what I mean, do people give you money because you're the Republican leader? Is that the only reason?
DOLE: Well, I hope not. I hope that's not the only reason, but I think it probably -- very candid about it, I think it probably is a reason. I mean, you've been around awhile; they know who you are, but they don't buy anything with it, is my view.
LAMB: They don't even buy access to you?
DOLE: Well, access -- I mean, to say hello, but these people who give to both parties, who say, "Well, we got to have access," in my view, make a big mistake. Sometimes they're better off talking to your staff. But you try to be accessible. Sometimes leaders have a difficult time because you run out of time.
LAMB: One of the interesting things I came across in here was that back -- I don't know what year it was -- there was a decision made that allows former presidents to come to the Senate floor and ask for a platform.
DOLE: That was in 1963. It was a resolution by Senator Claiborne Pell. And I think he envisioned that this talent, all these resources we had would suddenly appear on the Senate floor. Now I think some have been visitors, but they've never spoken. I remember former President Nixon came back last December. We were not in session at the time, and we took him in on the Senate floor, myself and Senator Byrd, showed him his old desk, and he sat up in the presiding officer's desk. Senator Byrd took him up there. We were not in session at that time, but he could have come in during the session and done the same thing. He couldn't have presided, but he could have visited around.
LAMB: Did you ever think of inviting -- we have four living former presidents -- inviting those four to come to the Senate floor and making a speech?
DOLE: (laughter) Hadn't thought of that. It might be a good idea. Maybe it's something Senator Pell should do, since he had the first resolution, because he, at the time, I think, said -- I can't remember reading that one -- or, in fact, giving that one, but it might be a good idea, get them all together.
LAMB: This photograph -- and it'll take us a little bit to look at it. It's ...
DOLE: That's the official photograph ...
LAMB: It's the first official photograph in the United States Senate, and I guess I want to say, "My, how things have changed." The backs of the senators are to the camera. Why?
DOLE: I guess we weren't quite -- well, we weren't TV conscious. When was that? 1963, I think it was.
LAMB: Yes, sir.
DOLE: That was way back there. But, yeah, I guess we were all facing -- you never see that many senators on the floor anyway. Rarely do you see that many senators, unless it is for the official photograph every year, or if it's an impeachment trial or one of your colleagues might be in difficulty.
LAMB: What about this chamber do you like? When you think of the Senate chamber, what's special about it?
DOLE: I think it's sort of intimate. It's not even on the House side, it's big and it's sort of a hollow sound. In the Senate, you can almost reach out to anyone from wherever you are in the United States Senate, in the chamber. It's small and sort of personal.
LAMB: Let me ask you about the television aspects of it, because of a lot of our audience sits and watches the Senate. Why don't -- in the House of Commons in Great Britain, which we cover here on Sunday nights.
DOLE: I watch it.
LAMB: So what's your reaction to it?
DOLE: I like it.
LAMB: Well, what is it you like about it?
DOLE: I like the Q&A. I mean, I like to have Margaret Thatcher being grilled by members of the Labor Party and, you know, praised by members of the Conservative Party, but...
LAMB: One little thing that they do that makes a big difference for a television viewer is that they they allow the cameras to show the person that they're talking to or the exchange. And in the United States Senate, you don't allow that. Have you ever thought about changing anything when it comes to camera angles and all that stuff?
DOLE: Well, I'm certain -- I don't know if that particular change is under advisement. I think we are trying to make it better. There might be the picture of Rebecca Felton, who served one day. I think it took her probably that long to get up and down the steps, but at 87 she's in pretty good shape, and I hope she enjoyed -- probably didn't pass too much legislation.
LAMB: One day.
DOLE: One day. And that was -- I can't remember the date, but it was 1922, I believe.
LAMB: Back to the television thing, you were starting to say that you -- you have changes under consideration?
DOLE: I think we've improved. You're the master. I think you can tell whether we've improved over the years in the short time we've had it. We've tried to make it better and better angled, better focus, a lot of technical matters that needed to be addressed. But ...
LAMB: Well, the ...
DOLE: ... sometimes senators would prefer to stand in the back of the chamber, too, because if you stand up front, they get the top of your head because of the camera angle. And the leaders have that problem because we're down front. We're the first two seats in the center aisle.
LAMB: One of the changes you do notice is that, well, the difference between the House and the Senate is that the Senate you can get the -- three and four senators standing around in a group talking, and so you can get a better sense of who's there and what the atmosphere is. Are you worried that people will see that during a debate sometime, there are only a half dozen senators on the floor?
DOLE: No, my view is, it ought to be shown as it is. I mean, if you're going to be -- if you're going to be trying to, you know, construct it so that it always appears that we're busy. Sometimes we -- you can be very busy with six senators on the floor. You can be discussing the B 2 bomber with six senators on the floor. In other words, the people who support it can be there; others can be on their way. I mean, not everyone has to be on the floor, and I think that's a common misunderstanding that some viewers have. Even visitors tell me, you know, "Bob, I was up in the gallery, and there were only five or six senators on the floor." Well, my answer is, "You're in luck, because five or six can't do much to you, but they can carry on business." And I think there's a feeling by some -- it's changed a lot over the years, I think, with the advent of television -- you can't all be on the Senate floor. You've got constituents, you've got work to do on your committees, you've got hundreds of other things. You come to the floor to speak, you come to the floor to vote; you don't come to the floor just to spend your time.
LAMB: Why are they so sensitive then about showing both sides all the time, talking about, "We don't want to show the change?"
DOLE: Well, I agreed with Tip O'Neill, when he started showing, on the House side, the empty seats, and I don't know why when people visit, when they go up in a balcony, look over -- they see a half a dozen senators. Why shouldn't they see the same on television? That's the real Senate. Other times there may be 50 or 100.
LAMB: The audience often thinks that we control those cameras and we tell them, "No, the Senate owns them, and they control them."
DOLE: The Senate owns and controls.
LAMB: Who on the House side, we know clearly that the speaker can do anything he wants to with those cameras under the House rules. How does it work in the Senate? Can you tell somebody what to do with those cameras, or can George Mitchell?
DOLE: I think, generally, the party in power, in this case, the Democrats, have a little more control, but if we don't like something, you know, we can call down and have it changed. I can recall a couple of times when we thought there was too much focus on maybe a particular partisan view where we would call and say, "Will you focus on someone else?" I don't think it's any partisan intent, but I think sometimes it's just a question of good balance.
LAMB: If you've just joined us, we're talking about this book, and it's...
DOLE: Twenty eight dollars, Government Printing Office.
LAMB: How can somebody get that?
DOLE: And all of the proceeds go to the government. You just write to Government Printing Office or call the Government Printing Office or you can write your senator or your congressman. They can direct you where to get it, but it is a $28 book. The proceeds do go to the government. And, again, it's through the staff of Dick Baker, who knows a lot about the history of the Senate, who helped me a great deal on that book. Walt Riker, my press assistant, press aide chief, also helped me a great deal.
LAMB: Now these were short speeches that you ...
DOLE: These are little one minute speeches that I delivered starting on January 6th, 1987 -- in 1987 and 1988. I didn't do it every day, but maybe once a week or twice a week or three times a week. And I must confess there were sometimes when I wasn't there, when we had a certain thing we had to insert in the record or someone else would do it for me. But most of them are statements I delivered, little one minute speeches, matters of history and, you know, just unusual things that happened over the 200 years. The Senate started in 1789 on March 3rd, and it's a strange thing. We have trouble getting enough people there to do business sometimes, so here when the United States started on March 3rd, 1789, we couldn't get a quorum. There weren't enough senators there to do business. There were 20 senators eligible for the Senate. They could only muster, I think, eight, so they had to -- it was April the 6th before they finally got 12 senators to show up to do business. So nothing's changed.
LAMB: Let me show a couple more pictures here. This is something that anybody that comes to the Capitol wants to ride: the subway. Why is there a subway? This is the first one, I guess.
DOLE: Well, you don't have much time between votes. You have 15 minutes for a vote. Sometimes you can stretch it out, and we generally do a minute or two. But I don't remember that. I should remember the date of that, but there have been two subways since then. That was really a car. That was a little car, and you had to sort of duck to get back and forth. But it's a fairly long distance between the so called Russell Building and the Hart Building, and the subway will get you there in about a minute, where it'd take you three or four minutes to walk it. And so it's just a convenience for senators so they don't miss votes and don't hold up the work of the Senate. Plus, it's available to constituents, staff, except during a roll call vote. And during a roll call vote, it's there to convey senators back and forth to the floor.
LAMB: By the way, it was hard to read on the screen because this is done in silver.
DOLE: Right.
LAMB: I want to make sure the audience knows that the book is called "Historical Almanac of the United States Senate." And the author of this is Senator Bob Dole, our guest on Booknotes. And before I show the picture of this, let me read the first paragraph. "Under the Constitution, the Senate retains the exclusive right to set standards for the conduct of its members. On seven occasions, in its 200 year history, the Senate has found it necessary to censure members for inappropriate behavior. One of those occasions occurred February 28th, 1902." And this has to do with Senator Benjamin Tillman, charged the improper influences had been used to change the vote of his colleague, John McLaren, on the Philippine treaty. And ..
DOLE: You know, they were both from South Carolina, and they got in a fight over it -- a fistfight. Yeah, that's...
LAMB: ...and here's a picture. Actually got in a fistfight on the floor of the Senate.
DOLE: That's right. McLaren was off in a committee room. He didn't like what he had heard about this, so he came back and punched his colleague in the nose. And they punched each other in the nose. They were suspended for six days. I'm not certain they ever became friends.
LAMB: Does anything like that ever happen today, anything close to it, where you feel so strongly that you want to...
DOLE: Well, as a result of that, we have what they call Rule 19, which says you can't you can't question someone's motives or conduct that might be beneath a senator. We get close to that sometimes, and if Senator Byrd, who is, again, the smartest guy over there when it comes to the rules -- he could probably find some Rule 19 violations. But Rule 19 was a result of the Tillman McLaren fisticuffs. But we've had, you know, we've had other people engage in fisticuffs. We've arrested reporters. We've held reporters at bay because they wouldn't divulge their sources or because they leaked the contents of a treaty. Nothing has really changed. We've had pay raises that have been repealed the following year, and they had the pay from $5,000 to $7,500, I think in 1870 some or '60 some. It was repealed the next year because of the public outcry, and there's still a public outcry when you raise the pay of members of Congress. So I guess a point I would make is, nothing really changes. I mean, people are really pretty much the same. The Senate's an institution, but it survived. And I think it's a very strong institution.
LAMB: Depending on what figures you believe, there are something like 30,000 employees that are connected with the US Capitol. But do you sense there are too many staff or not enough?
DOLE: Well, no, I think we have enough, and I think probably too many would be my guess. Staff tends to grow and, of course, the more the staff, the more space you need, the more ideas that are springing up, and the more legislation. If we ever sat back and really honestly took a look at priorities, I think we'd say, "Well, maybe we're overstaffed, overstuffed," or whatever. But they all, far as I know, do their jobs, but we may have too many.
LAMB: If you didn't have to go the compromise route, how would you change the rules in the Senate to have a more efficient running place? What would you do?
DOLE: Well, we don't want to become another House of Representatives. We could change the rules so that we could shut off debate more easily with fewer votes and shorten up the time after you invoke cloture -- shut off debate. I think one thing we should do, we ought to be able to proceed to a piece of legislation without a long debate. Senator Byrd devised a scheme when he was majority leader. You can do it almost automatically, but you ought to be able to proceed to legislation without somebody saying, "Well, I'm going to filibuster this for two or three days." Now maybe in rare occasions you might want that, but generally, it's just a delay, takes time and delays the work of the Senate. But I think, for the most part, I don't want to be -- I have respect for the House. They're a different body, different altogether in many respects. They have their Rules Committee; we don't. We have more -- we're uninhibited. We can stand up and speak forever. I think the record is held by Senator Strom Thurmond, 22 hours and some minutes. We don't want a Rules Committee. We don't want to say that you'd only have one amendment, 20 minutes or whatever. So I wouldn't change it very much, and I've been there now since 1968. I don't see much reason to change it; maybe change some members, but let's don't change the Senate.
LAMB: Another statistic that I've seen is that a third of your time is spent in what we see as quorum calls, delaying quorums they call them. Why are those necessary? And what do you do with them? What do you...
DOLE: Well, they're necessary -- you can either recess the Senate, which Senator Burgess, he hated to see on the TV screen, "The Senate is in a quorum call." So he would recess the Senate. Again, it's maybe discipline, but getting members on the floor to offer their amendments. And some members for good reason say, "Well, I don't want to offer mine today. It's Tuesday. I want to offer it on Wednesday morning at 9:00 or whatever." He may have a conflict, he may not be in town, he may be at a committee meeting. So some of the quorum calls are unnecessary; some are unavoided; maybe some is management of the Senate. Maybe we shouldn't be in that early. There wouldn't be that many quorum calls. Come in later and do your business, instead of come in early and sit around half the day in a quorum call. So it's a combination of maybe management and members not willing to show up, or not able to show up on the floor to do business.
LAMB: Do you ever get criticized by the public for using so many quorum calls that people say, "Where in the world are you during that time?"
DOLE: Well, I'm certain people who view it -- people who really want to see some action, when they see you're now in a quorum, then they tune back 30 minutes later, you're still in a quorum, say, "Jiminy, this must be tough work." But I think if they understand, it may be a perfectly good reason. Maybe they're in the back room working out an amendment that might take six hours on the floor; they're back in a corner somewhere, and they put in a quorum call, they work it out in 30 minutes -- you've just saved five hours. So it's not all time that's just totally lost.
LAMB: Page 143, 1879, James Shields of Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri. He served...
DOLE: Three different states.
LAMB: ... three different states.
DOLE: That's right. I'd forgotten about him.
LAMB: Any of that -- I mean, they say that in history, 25 senators have served at least two different states. In most cases, all but two, they were member of the House of Representatives from one state, then elected to the Senate.
DOLE: That's right.
LAMB: Anybody like that now in the Senate that you know of?
DOLE: Nobody like that in the Senate now that I know of. I'm fairly certain I'm accurate.
LAMB: Could that happen today, do you think? Is it possible to go across state lines and get elected?
DOLE: Oh, it could probably happen. I wouldn't say it couldn't happen. I remember when I was in the House, somebody from, I think, Chicago telling me what great shape he was in because he was so popular. And, of course, in Chicago you have many districts in the urban areas. He took a survey and found that there -- only 11 percent of the people knew he was their congressman. So you never know if you're going to get elected because people don't know who you are or because they do know who you are. So I guess the point is -- well, maybe if you've lived in Kansas and were defeated, you could go to Missouri and run for the Senate. I'm not certain it would work. Probably not.
LAMB: Speaking of the Senate, you're up for re election in '92.
DOLE: If I run, it'll be '92.
LAMB: What do you think about the idea?
DOLE: Well, I think it's a great job. I don't want to dismiss that, but I just haven't focused on running right now. The elections of 1990 are upon us, and as the minority leader, I want to become the majority leader, and so we're working hard during this August recess to, you know, add to our numbers. We need to pick up five seats to have a 50/50 Senate. That's happened in the past. That would be a tough Senate to operate if you had 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. Then the vice president becomes the key player because he would be there to break all ties.
LAMB: If you didn't run in '92, what would be the reason?
DOLE: Well, I haven't really -- I guess I figure that I've been there long enough, or that maybe I might do something else.
LAMB: But you're not tired of the job.
DOLE: Oh, no, I like the job. That's why I work at it six days a week because on Saturday...
LAMB: What happens on Saturday?
DOLE: Well, my wife won't let me work on Sunday, but -- Sunday we sort of set aside for time together and go to church and go to brunch and sort of relax or travel. And one thing in the leadership and, of course, with my wife, Elizabeth, being secretary of labor, she travels a lot, too. So it's not always easy to be home on weekends. But when we are home, we try to reserve Sundays.
LAMB: Governor Dukakis spent an hour with us a couple of weeks ago, and one of the questions that we asked him was whether or not he would think about running for president again.
DOLE: He said yes.
LAMB: And he said maybe.
DOLE: Maybe.
LAMB: I got to ask you the same question. Do you think you'd ever run for president?
DOLE: No, I don't think so. I think probably age is a factor now. I feel young, but you got to look at the calendar. But it would be a long, long shot, so I would say probably not. I've enjoyed running for the Senate, serving the Senate, serving in the House. We thought we had a pretty good shot in '88, didn't work out. We did our best, so we'll move on to something else.
LAMB: Have you and President Bush ever had a personal chat about that campaign, since the campaign?
DOLE: Well, not really, not directly saying, "You know, what do you think about New Hampshire or Iowa?" But we get along very well. We're both about -- you know, we're both about the same age, same generation. I think we understand each other and understand what needs to be done. The election is over, it's over, even though you may not have liked everything that happened, you know, in some stages of it.
LAMB: Are you surprised that the two of you get along as well as you do?
DOLE: Oh, no. No, we knew each other beforehand. I think there was a little distant feeling there, maybe, getting up to the election and right after the primaries, at least, but I was out campaigning for candidate Bush before he became president. I went all over this country, and so he understands you have a responsibility in the party, and if you can't take the heat or you don't like it, you ought to get out of it, whether you're Republican or Democrat.
LAMB: You served in the House of Representatives, you served in the Senate, well, since '70? No.
DOLE: '68.
LAMB: '68. And you ran for the presidency, you ran for the vice presidency. As you looked at this system and how it works in other systems, is this system working the way it should, this American system of government?
DOLE: Well, not quite. I thought I should have won. But, no, I think it works pretty well. I mean, you know, we have our frustrations. I think all members do, but I think, overall, you can sit back and look at it and complain and say, "Well, it doesn't work right or the media's too liberal and all these things that we conjure up." And I think part of it's true. The Democrats can say something else, but in the final analysis, I don't know of any better system, and I've looked around some.
LAMB: I've got a big flowing picture here of Henry Clay. And he was also speaker of the House, and then came over to the Senate a couple times, you said earlier.
DOLE: He was pretty upset. He quit the Senate. He wanted to be president, but he didn't get the nomination, and he was going to quit the Senate and go back and spend the last couple of years out of the Senate working for the -- I think the nomination -- What was it? -- 1844, I think it was. But he was not the nominee.
LAMB: Do you think people back then were any smarter than the people today?
DOLE: I doubt it, but I think they probably had less to focus on. I mean, the problems were smaller, the country was smaller. I mean, the problems are just as serious, but there are probably fewer of them. And they didn't move -- they didn't travel as much. When they came to Washington, they stayed here. I mean, it took so long to get back and forth to, say, Kentucky. So they had more time to really focus and reflect on not only what they were doing, but what impact it might have. One thing we don't do enough around here is take a look at legislation we passed 10, 15, 20 years ago, and we don't spend enough time trying to reorder priorities. If we took a look at priorities, some would drop and some would go up, like long term health care would probably go near the top; others would drop. But we never seem to have time.
LAMB: Other than this book here, do you spend, personally, much time looking at history? And if you do, who are your favorites -- people in history, not just senators, politicians?
DOLE: Well, I read a lot about Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill and, of course, I look at sort of modern day presidents -- at Eisenhower, being a Kansan. In fact, he would have been 100 this October. We have a big celebration coming up in Abilene, Kansas. He has always been sort of my mentor, my hero, in any event. And I've watched very closely some of the people we started to talk about earlier, people like John Stennis from Mississippi, Senator Robert Byrd, Senator Dirksen, Senator Bob Griffin of Michigan, again, who I thought was an underrated -- but had a lot of influence, a great deal of intelligence. So sort of modern day Senate history maybe, but...
LAMB: When you put this book together, were there people that lobbied you to get into this book, and not individuals maybe that are alive, but they had favorites in history and they knew you were doing this and said, "Why don't you do something on Phil Hart" -- or somebody that maybe didn't make it in here? Did you have much of that?
DOLE: No, but I remember suggesting a number of topics. Dick Baker would give us some topics. We'd take a look at them, or I would suggest topics to him. He would take a look at them. I don't recall anybody lobbying me. I think they may have said something to him. But we tried to get sort of a balance between Republicans, Democrats, Whigs, whatever -- just a broad view of the history of the Senate, 200 years: What it meant; what it was like; how did it change. And you go back and you take a look, as I said, at whether it's pay raises or members getting frustrated at each other, the length of the oratory, how we treated the press or the press treated us. You can go back and say, "Well, boy, nothing's changed in 200 years."
LAMB: We've only got a couple minutes left. The polls show that the Congress is not in great favor, as an institution, with the public, and one of the main reasons is because of the inability to make decisions on things like the deficit. Do you think that the deficit will be dealt with in the next couple months?
DOLE: We have to deal with the deficit. I don't care what happens in Iraq or anywhere else. We're in trouble. And I think that is a failing of the Congress. I think we have a habit of appointing committees or commissions, separate task forces. We've got all this in Congress. That's what we're elected for. And it's been one of my frustrations, and I think other members, probably some in both parties. We don't make tough decisions. We put tough decisions off because we might offend some voting block or voting group. My view is, it's not only good politics, but particularly it's good policy to deal with the deficit if we think anything about our children and our grandchildren. And most viewers would acknowledge they'll do anything for their children, anything for their kids. Well, then let us deal with the deficit, let us make the tough decisions. And it's not the people who watch C SPAN who object; somehow it's just -- we can't find the will in the Congress, so it is a problem.
LAMB: We're talking about a lot of things, including this book, which is hard to see here because of the silver lettering that's used here. But it's the "Historical Almanac of the United States Senate," and our guest for the last hour has been the Republican leader of that institution, Bob Dole. Thank you very much for your time.
DOLE: Brian, thank you. Appreciate it.

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