BOB DOLE: American Political Phoenix by Stanley G. Hilton

BOB DOLE: American Political Phoenix

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A penetrating, balanced biography of Dole by an attorney who served some years on the Senator's staff. Hilton's portrait is of an inner-driven man, born to hard times in rural Kansas, sorely ambitious to make it to the top. What gave Dole's ambition added impetus were his WW II injuries (sustained only three weeks before V-E Day). which left his right arm just a limp extension. They had a lasting effect in two ways: by concentrating his ambition after a pall was cast over his ""wholeness,"" and--as a consequence of the shabby treatment he received from the Army (they refused to pay for his surgery, which was paid for finally via $1,800 drawn up by the hometown folk)--by propelling him into a populist variant of conservatism, Hilton is sharply critical of Dole's manic drive (his first marriage of 24 years failed, ultimately the victim of 19-hour workdays), as well as of his characteristic inability to give anybody a pat on the back (the most praise any staff member ever gets from Dole, states the author, is a ""Not bad--not good, but not bad""). Hilton's semi-psychobiography leads past Dole's second marriage to Elizabeth Hanaford (who matched his ambition, drive, intensity, and long work hours) to his current White House bid. Speculating on a Dole presidency, Hilton suggests that (borrowing James Barber's rating system) Dole would be an active-negative president in the vein of Johnson or Nixon, and would try to revamp the Republican Party along populist lines. ""Dole would not become an asterisk president. He would be a hands-on leader, very much in charge of everything. . ."" Timely commentary and much more biting than the Doles' own current, amiable autobiography (The Doles: Unlimited Partners, p. 33).

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
Publisher: Contemporary