O-No! has been all a'twitter lately prognosticating the possibilities of Senator Dull calling it quits. The Raleigh edition had this story last week, and the Charlotte edition weighs in today, with Mr. Tim Funk doing the honors. The stories are virtually identical, which makes it hard to understand why O-No! paid to have it written twice.
But it's a good story all the same, because it asks the senior Senator to answer a very important question: why doesn't she care about North Carolina? Naturally, her first instinct when confronted with that question is to lie:
I asked Dole if she thought N.C. voters would be OK with her spending so much of her time this year jetting around the country on behalf of GOP Senate candidates.
"I've certainly not heard people objecting to it ... I think they understand that it's important to keep the (Republican) majority if we want to continue to see the policies that have benefited folks and families -- like tax relief," she said. "In addition, I think people understand that being in the (Senate GOP) leadership means that you've had an opportunity to discuss issues that are important to North Carolina."
Of course Dole hasn't heard people objecting - she's never here and she doesn't listen. And as to policies that have benefited folks and families? Gimme a friggin' break. Budget deficits as far as the eye can see hardly qualify as good for families. But if you think Dull is full of it when it comes to right wing talking points, you'll really enjoy her twisting in the wind on the subject of running for office again in two years.
"I'm raising money," she told me (Tim Funk) last week. "I'm out there raising my war chest."
She's right about that. Since January 2005, Dole has raised $1.2 million. And yet, she's already spent all but $223,775 of it, much of it going to help GOP Senate candidates in 2006.
Plus, did you hear a "yes, I'm running" in her answer above? I didn't, either. So I asked again.
"Well, I haven't made a formal declaration of it, but yeah, that's why you're raising the money," she said.
I mentioned the whispers back in North Carolina, that some political junkies are saying that, at 70, she might not want to run if Republicans lose the Senate.
"Tim, forget it, OK?" she said, laughing a little.
For the record, the talk about Dole retiring consists of a lot more than whispers back here in North Carolina. Every politician I know has raised the question, and many are convinced she doesn't have what it takes to run again. Dole has been lackluster as the go-to fundraising gal for Senate Republicans, and her credentials as a representative for North Carolina are even more embarrassing. When Funk asked what she's done for the state, the best she could come up with is this anemic list:
• She got Congress and the Pentagon to agree to provisions designed to protect military families from predatory lending.
• She asked the General Services Administration to improve road access to a Social Security office in Asheville that is unreachable by public transit.
• And she and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., held up a Vietnam trade bill until the Bush administration agreed to take moves to protect the U.S. textile industry.
Is that pathetic, or what?
The truth is, Liddy Dole hasn't spent her time in the Senate working for North Carolina. Period. Her energy has gone into rubber-stamping the worst administration in the history of the republic, and cheerleading a majority party that's more interested in power than competence and good governance.
I recently asked a senior elected official whether the constant drumbeat of honest criticism might play a role in convincing Senator Dole to retire. He said yes.
Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.