FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2021
We met him on one occasion: On March 19, 1999, Annie Groer and Ann Gerhart announced the passing of a pet schnauzer in the Washington Post.
At the time, Groer and Gerhart wrote the Post's Reliable Source column. The name of the schnauzer in question was Leader. For fifteen years, he had belonged to Bob and Elizabeth Dole:
GROER AND GERHART (3/19/99): It looks like Leader Dole won't be going on a book tour. His memoirs will be posthumous.
But the schnauzer that Elizabeth Dole rescued from the D.C. Humane Society as a gift for hubby Bob 15 years ago did manage to finish "Follow the Leader: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C." before departing this Earth earlier this month. He was 17; that's 119 in dog years.
In the best tradition of political animals (who among us can forget "Millie's Book" by George and Bar Bush's springer spaniel, or "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy" by Hillary R. Clinton), proceeds from Leader's yet-unpublished book will go to charity. The heaviest literary lifting was done by Mary Vincent, Leader's nanny and the Doles' next-door neighbor at the Watergate.
We wondered whether the Doles might soon replace him, or at least share a few kind words about Leader, who, after all, had his own high profile. He was Mr. September 1998 in the Ralston Purina calendar and the 1995 chairdog of the Bark Ball. Leader also sired eight pups with Chelsea Marie, the schnauzer owned by Sen. Strom Thurmond, reports The Post's Janelle Erlichman.
The report continued from there. Groer and Gerhart didn't hear back from Dole and Dole. But Mary Vincent, Leader's biographer, told the pair that Leader "lived well right up until the end."
When Vincent's book appeared, the Doles held a small book party to celebrate the occasion. In a manner we don't recall—we'll guess The Hotline was involved—we contracted to offer humorous remarks upon the occasion.
It was at that party that we met Bob Dole, who, by that time in his life, should have been called "Bob Droll."
By that time, everyone knew that Dole had a droll sense of humor. It's one of the reasons why, by the end of his lengthy career, he was well liked by Washington journalists.
After the book event that day, the Doles stood around chatting with guests and onlookers. Our own guest—someone a bit more reflexively partisan, at that time, than we were or are today—was astonished to discover the fact that she liked Bob Dole.
On that day, it was very easy to see why everyone liked Bob Dole. Early in his lengthy career, he'd been considered an excessively partisan "hatchet man." That reputation had long since disappeared.
We don't recall exactly when that book event occurred. That said, Dole's sense of humor played an unfortunate role in the 2000 campaign, which was underway by that time.
During the 1996 campaign, Vice President Gore had gotten tangled up in the "Buddhist temple" incident. Dole had come up with a very good joke about one aspect of the affair.
On the down side, his joke was based on a premise which was factually false. Beyond that, Gore had nothing to do with the fairly modest "money laundering" which apparently occurred in connection with the event.
Candidate Gore had done nothing wrong. Dole's joke had been based on a false premise.
That said, the joke was actually funny—most jokes aren't—and, starting in March 1999, the press corps was waging a war against Candidate Gore. For those reasons, the joke was repeated, again and again, all through Campaign 2000.
Dole had come up with a funny, droll joke. The children took over from there.