Being Bob Dole

February 1 was a really interesting day. I suppose the proper thing to say would be that I didn’t know what to expect when our team went to Senator Bob Dole’s office to interview him for a film we’re making for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The truth is that I didn’t expect to like him. Why? Looking back, I’m just not sure. But I had some impression of him as a gruff fellow, maybe a little impatient. How many times have I learned how wrong my predispositions can be? Enough – and now one more has been added to that number.

Senator Dole was friendly to us all, including each of the crew in his greetings and in his thanks when we were done. From his presence and his charm, I could sense what a powerful force he must have been in his prime years as Senate Majority Leader. And, I have to tell you, the famous Dole wit was definitely on display… (I can tell you this story without fear of violating any professional discretion because I’ve since seen media reports of him saying the same thing.)

Senator Dole was in an elevated chair with a towel around his neck while my old friend Michele Mundell, one of DC’s most sought-after makeup artists, was giving him a bit of a freshening up. It was just a few days after he had come out publicly and very firmly against Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, and it was clearly still on his mind. With no provocation from either Michele or me he offered this bon mot:

“I’ve often been asked why people take such an instant dislike to Newt. Two words: saves time.”

By the way, if you’re not familiar with the Bipartisan Policy Center — Senator Dole was one of its four founders — you should know about their important work to neutralize the political divide that is forestalling progress in Washington. Click on