George Bush would do well to select Elizabeth Hanford Dole as his vice presidential running mate. Otherwise, I think he might have a difficult time extending the Republican Party's stay in the White House to 12 consecutive years.
I had lunch last week with Albert L. Kraus, who preceded me as editor of The Journal of Commerce, and he was of the same opinion. Although people tend to vote their pocketbook, Al said he did not think that the six years of continued U.S. economic growth, which is still under way, added enough to the pocketbooks of individual voters to assure Mr. Bush a victory in November.Voters also are aware, Al said, that the uptick in the economy was artificially induced, in part, by a series of massive federal budget deficits.
Mr. Bush needs Liddy Dole for the same reason Michael Dukakis needs Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.
Mr. Dukakis' lock on the liberal wing of his party, and much of the black vote for that matter, is secure. Where else can they go? Sen. Bentsen opens up the possibility of attracting moderate and conservative voters in his party, as well as the independents in the last two presidential elections who voted for President Reagan.
Similarly, Mr. Bush has a lock on the ultra conservatives whether they want him or not. Where else would they go? He too, must do something to appeal to the more moderate wing of the Democratic party and the independents. Mrs. Dole would do that more than any other prominent Republican.
Putting a woman into the second highest office in the country also would show the party is socially progressive and would help counteract Mr. Bush's problems with women voters.
The former beauty queen from North Carolina also would help the Bush campaign in that state and in the farm belt states that her husband, Sen. Robert Dole, R-Kan., has aided over the years.
I have interviewed Mrs. Dole and attended functions at which she spoke or testified 25 to 30 times. This Phi Beta Kappa attorney is not only intelligent and has more people sense than Messrs. Bush, Dukakis and Bentsen combined, she is a formidable politician. In my memory, and that includes every secretary of transportation since Lyndon Johnson asked for the cabinet post, she has been the most politically astute person to hold that office.
She did not accomplish much, but I don't think that was her intent.
As those who worked for her at the Department of Transportation have often told me, her initial response to most projects proposed by her staff was, What will be the political effect?
It would seem apparent that her primary objective during her four-plus years as secretary of transportation was to leave office unscathed politically. She did not want to jeopardize her husband's chances to be president or her own chances to be vice president and, perhaps, president. Therefore, she concentrated on such politically non-controversial issues as safety and health. She actually held press conferences extolling the virtues of seat belts.
In six months, James Burnley, her successor, has demonstrated more leadership in tackling tough issues that require national attention than Mrs. Dole did in the preceding four years.
Still, the discipline in staying away from such issues speaks well for her. She is not someone to underestimate. And if and when she chooses to take on the more difficult issues, I have a sneaking suspicion she could be formidable. Her efforts to sell Conrail to Norfolk Southern Corp. demonstrated a stubbornness and tenacity necessary for leadership.
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At a recent banquet sponsored by the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce in Manhattan in honor of His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin, archbishop of Manila, he exhibited a touching humility.
In introducing him, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz, D-N.Y., said the cardinal, more than any other person, was responsible for the relatively bloodless change of power from Marcos to Aquino. He sent nuns and priests to put their bodies between Marcos' tanks and Aquino's followers.
Cardinal Sin responded to this adulation by pointing out that the donkey is one of the least intelligent animals. When Jesus made his triumphant return to Jerusalem shortly before his death, he road in on a donkey, the cardinal said. Palm branches and flowers were thrown into the street by the joyous crowd as the donkey carried Jesus along the way. Cheers and hosannas filled the air, said the cardinal.
I'm certain, he added, that somewhere along the way the donkey thought that this was all for him. All this food and all this adulation. Well, I have to be careful not to think like that. Because I was just the donkey that carried the master.