May 09, 2003
constituent service

The NYTimes has this article on Elizabeth Dole's first few months in office. Apparently she has spent all of her time engaged in serving her state rather than parlaying her connections and position to maintain a high profile in the Senate. It seems that many opponents are befuddled and even disappointed by her going to ground. The accusations of Dole being a carpetbagger hardly apply when she has turned down interviews in every major print and TV outlet and spent all of her freshman time visiting tiny obscure hamlets throughout the state. She only consented to her NYTimes interview because it would take place in Camp Lejeune.

After her bravura performance at her husband's nomination for the Republican ticket, I confess that I thought her a bit slick, and calculating; but her doing the seemingly mundane gruntwork of taking care of her constituency seems to force a reevaluation. A political consultant was left saying, "She hasn't done anything that Democrats could much attack here, much as we'd like to." Another disappointedly wondered if Dole was "ever going to move out her husband's shadow?" People forget that Bob Dole was respected on both sides of the aisle because he was an excellent Majority Leader who got the job done rather than cultivating political division, helmet hair and inserting both feet in his mouth. Apparently, his advice to his wife has been to do the same: do the job you are paid to do--that means getting Federal recognition of the Lumbee Indian tribe, working on a buyout of tobacco farmers... None of this the heady stuff of national politics for someone whom many considered the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination until W. came to prominence.

Several years ago, Henry Louis Gates wrote a glowing, even hagiographic profile of Dole in the New Yorker. to the point that it looked like she had his vote if she ever made it to a national election. There's probably more than meets the eye.

Posted by erich at May 09, 2003 08:04 AM
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