Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole and Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.), the Senate majority leader, are a pair who definitely have their act together. He's been called the fourth most influential American and the most powerful U.S. senator. She heads a department with 100,000 employees and a budget of $28 billion.
Together, they've been called "America's No. 1 power couple." He's been "doing a lot of visiting around for '88 and also running for reelection in Kansas." She's obviously running with him. At the USC School of Public Administration Ides of March roast this week at the Sheraton Premiere, however, it was clear that they're a "two-for-one package."
Meeting the Press
She teased him; he teased her. It was sophisticated lovey-dovey as both received Juliuses for their outstanding public service. The expression on the face of the Julius statuette is described as the one he had just before Brutus stabbed him. Mayor Tom Bradley, former President Gerald Ford and Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth have received Juliuses, too.
Before the black-tie dinner for 600, the Doles arrived late for a short press conference. "How are you all? How you doin'?" she greeted reporters. Dressed in a silver lame cocktail dress, black pearls, silver shoes and wearing bright red nail polish on toes and fingers and the big diamond with two sapphires ("Bob's good taste") on her wedding ring finger, she apologized for her attire: "I'm not usually dressed like this for a press conference." Then she turned serious for the barrage of questions about airport security measures, related to this week's air tragedies. The senator, in red bow tie and tux, took the back seat--he was asked only about a recent bomb threat from "someone in a penitentiary."
Later the Doles were feted at an intimate cocktail party attended by some of the city's powerful: Lodwrick M. Cook, chairman of Atlantic Richfield Co. (and the dinner chairman) and his wife Carole, USC president Jim and Marilyn Zumberge, William Keck (who influenced the Doles to accept the USC honor), Simon and Virginia Ramo, Carl and Roberta Hartnack, Dr. Ross Clayton (dean of the school) and Luanne, Roy and Betty Anderson, Margaret Martin Brock, John and Pamela King, Congressman Dan Lungren and Bobbi, Jim and Ingeburg Miscoll, Fred and Millie O'Green, John and Marilyn Shirey (he's president of USC SCAPA Praetors, who presented the award), Norman Topping, Earl and Joyce Witscher and Cornelius and Marjorie Pings.
Well, maybe her husband might be running for President, Secretary Dole allowed at the cocktail party: "I would back him 100%; he's a very bright person--sort of like a laser beam--able to cut through a complex issue. He has a wonderful sense of humor. . . . I have never seen him really angry. He's a very hard worker. And he is a compassionate person."
It was a contrast to her roast humor. Perhaps borrowing from her experience in being only the second woman ever to be roasted by the Gridiron Club in the nation's capital, Secretary Dole (who is a Phi Beta Kappa Duke graduate and has a Harvard law degree) let it roll: "When I took my job, I knew a lot about air bags--after all, I've been living with one for 10 years." And, "A reporter recently asked, 'Isn't it emasculating, Bob, to be married to a powerful woman?' and I said, 'Hold it, cupcake, I'll take that one!' " (The joke brought down the house.) But then she turned serious, praising women in public administration for increasing their numbers by 60%, and then quoting Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing." It was a call to politics.
Mistakes in 1976
Sen. Dole said he almost hadn't come: "Ed Davis wanted me to stop by and listen to his Bobbi Fiedler tapes." And he quoted from what he said was a Gary Hart remark, " 'Gentlemen, let me tax your memories,' and Ted Kennedy stepped up and said, 'Why haven't we thought of that before.' " He admitted, however, he had made some mistakes in 1976 when he sought the presidency--"I went right to the jugular vein--my own." And, said the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee and Agriculture Committee (he was graduated from Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., with a law degree in 1952, and elected to the Kansas Legislature while still in law school), it was "good to be with Elizabeth on an evening when we don't have to flip to see who does the dishes."