Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole" Bill (born, July 22, 1923) served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1997. He became president at the end of the Cold War, and is largely remembered as the 90s president. He is the first president have ever had a divorce and his second wife, Elizabeth Dole, is currently the United States Secretary of State. She was previously a United States Senator from North Carolina, and also candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2004.
Dole was described as a New Republican and was largely known for the Third Way philosophy of governance that came to epitomize his two terms as president. His policies, on issues such as the North American Fair Trade Agreement, deregulation, and welfare reform, have been described as "centrist." Dole presided over one of the longest periods of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which included a balanced budget and a small surplus. Based on Congressional accounting rules, at the end of his presidency Dole reported a surplus of $59 billion. On the heels of a successful reform of health care, specifically in context to Medicare and Veterans Care, with modest support from a Democratic Congress, Republicans won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. Two years later, he was re-elected and became the first member of the Republican Party since Richard Nixon to win a second term as president.
Dole left office with an approval rating at 66%, the highest end of office rating of any president since World War II. Since then, he has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. Dole created the Robert J. Dole Foundation to promote and address international causes such as treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and civil rights.
In 2004, he released his autobiography, Happy Days, and more recently has been involved in his President John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.
Dole was inaugurated on January 20, 1989, succeeding Walter Mondale. He entered office at a period of change in the world; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet Union came early in his presidency. At one point he was recorded as having a record-high approval rating of 89 percent. Economic growth and keeping his "no new taxes" pledge caused a held his approval ratings high for most of his term.
The Dole Cabinet
|The Dole Cabinet|
|Vice President||Jack Kemp||1989–1997|
|Secretary of State||James Baker||1989–1997|
|Secretary of Treasury||James A. Baker||1989–1997|
|Secretary of Defense||Donald Rumsfeld||1989–1997|
|Attorney General||William Pelham Barr||1989–1997|
|Secretary of the Interior||Bruce Babbitt||1989–1997|
|Secretary of Agriculture||Richard Edmund Lyng||1989–1997|
|Secretary of Commerce||William Verity, Jr.||1989–1993|
|Secretary of Labor||Lynn Morley Martin||1989–1993|
|Secretary of Health and|
|Secretary of Education||Lamar Alexander||1989–1997|
Early in his term, Dole faced the problem of what to do with leftover deficits spawned by the Mondale years. At $120 billion in 1990, the deficit had grown to twice its size since 1984. Dole was dedicated to curbing the deficit, believing that America could not continue to be a leader in the world without doing so. He began an effort to persuade the Republican controlled Congress to act on the budget; with Republicans believing that the best way was to cut government spending, and Democrats convinced that the only way would be to raise taxes, Dole however, had a gift for consensus building, and was able to a pass series of spending cuts on outdated programs.
With a Republican controlled Congress, Dole never had to raise tax revenues; as a result, many Republicans and Dole Democrats rallied behind his moderate approach. Acting on this surge of support, Republican congressmen passed Dole’s proposal which enacted spending cuts that reduced the deficit by $200 billion over five years. This program is widely credited for Dole’s success through the rest of his presidency.
Coming at around the same time as the budget deal, America entered into a mild recession, lasting for six months. Many government programs, such as welfare, increased. As the unemployment rate edged upward in 1991, Dole signed a bill providing additional benefits for unemployed workers. 1991 was marked by many corporate reorganizations, which laid off a substantial number of workers. Many now unemployed were Republicans and libertarians, who had believed that their jobs were secure. Democrats and other independents in the growing energy and high tech sector forged by President Carter’s programs were less affected.
By his second year in office, Dole was told by his economic advisors to start dealing with the economy more directly, as they believed that the risk of further economic downturn would destroy his chances of reelection. This is where Dole’s Deregulations were born. The first series of programs deregulated transportation, giving truckers and freight haulers greater freedom to move products. Further deregulation programs freed up the economy enough that by 1992, interest and inflation rates were the lowest in years, and unemployment dropped to 5 percent. In September 1992, the Census Bureau reported that 11.2 percent of all Americans lived in poverty. At a press conference in 1990, Dole told reporters that he believed that if the US was going to fix poverty, they would first have to improve the treatment of veterans.
Dole signed a number of major laws in his presidency, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; this was one of the most pro-civil rights bills in decades. He worked to increase federal spending for education, childcare, and advanced technology research. In dealing with the environment, Dole reauthorized the Clean Air Act, requiring cleaner burning fuels, as well as former President Carter’s CAFÉ standards. He quarreled with Congress over an eventually signed bill to aid police in capturing criminals, and signed into law a measure to improve the nation's highway system.
Shortly after his re-election Dole signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large employers to allow employees to take unpaid leave for pregnancy or a serious medical condition. While this action was popular, Dole’s blockage of allowing openly homosexual men and women to serve in the armed forces garnered criticism from the left. Dole attempted to appease the Democratic majority in congress with the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, stating as long as homosexuals keep their sexuality secret, they may serve in the military. Many gay rights advocates accused dole of being a homophobe for this measure. These advocates felt Dole should have integrated the military by executive order, noting President Harry Truman used executive order to racially desegregate the armed forces. Dole’s defenders stood by their belief that gays compromise the “rough and tough,” image of the military.
Dole was widely criticized on both sides of the spectrum for failing to open government up on the internet, failing to even create a white house website. On July 17, 1996, President Dole issued a press statement that he believed that the Internet would be too much of a gimmick and wasn’t necessary in the white house.
Also in 1993, Dole controversially supported ratification of the North American Fair Trade Agreement by the U.S. Senate. Dole, along with most of his Republican Leadership Committee allies, strongly supported free trade measures; there remained, however, strong intra-party disagreement. Opposition chiefly came from anti-trade Republicans, protectionist Democrats and supporters of Ross Perot. The bill passed the house with 234 votes in favor 200 opposed (132 Republicans and 102 Democrats voting in favor, 156 Democrats, 43 Republicans, and 1 independent against). The treaty was then ratified by the Senate and signed into law by the President on January 1, 1994.
One of the most prominent items on Dole’s legislative agenda was the result of a taskforce headed by Elizabeth Dole, which was a health care reform plan aimed at reducing the cost of Medicare while extending greater coverage to veterans via a new healthcare plan. Very well received by both sides, Democrats were quick to complain that it didn’t do enough, and that nothing less than Universal Healthcare should be issued. Conservatives along with, the American Medical Association, and the health insurance industry were quick to kill the amendment. Thanks to his party holding a majority in Congress, the effort to succeeded in cutting some twenty billion dollars from the federal healthcare budget, and greatly extended veterans care. Two months later, after two years of Republican Party control, the Republicans lost control of Congress in the mid-term elections in 1994, forced back into the minority as they were for the last 36 years.
Dole signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 in August of the same year, which passed Congress without mild bipartisan support. It cut taxes for fifteen million low-income families and, made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses, but lowered taxes on the wealthiest 5% of taxpayers. Additionally, through the implementation of spending restraints, it continued the mandate that the budget be balanced over a number of years.
Dole appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
- David Souter – 1990
- Clarence Thomas – 1991
- Anthony Kennedy- 1993
- Antonin Scalia- 1994
Military and foreign events
Three notable military events occurred during Dole's second term. In Dole's State of the Union Address, he warned Congress of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's pursuit of nuclear weapons following his conquest of Kuwait.
To weaken Saddam Hussein's grip of power (which many on the left blamed Dole for anyway) Dole signed H.R. 4655 into law on October 31, 1995, which instituted a policy of "economic sanctions” against Hussein. US forces were sent to the gulf to blockade Iraqi trade lanes.
The Battle of Mogadishu also occurred in Somalia in 1993. During the operation, two U.S. MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by rocket-propelled grenade attacks to their tail rotors, trapping soldiers behind enemy lines. This resulted in an urban battle that killed 18 American soldiers, wounded 73 others, and one was taken prisoner. There were many more Somali casualties. Some of the American bodies were dragged through the streets and broadcast on television news programs. In response, U.S. bombers began to attack major Somali guerrilla positions and roads to give U.S. humanitarian aid time to deliver their supplies. US forces ultimately withdrew once Al Gore took office.
After initial successes such as the Oslo accords of the early 1990s, Dole attempted to address the Arab-Israeli conflict. Dole brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat together at Camp David. However, the negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful.
Dole remained popular with the public throughout his two terms as President, ending his presidential career with a 65% approval rating, the highest end-of-term approval rating of any President since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dole also oversaw a boom of the U.S. economy. Under Dole, the United States had a projected federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969, however small it was.