After demonizing Tom Daschle, the Republicans defeated him, the first time in memory a Senate leader has been taken out. But whatever hard feelings he may harbor, Daschle set them aside when Bob Dole came calling. Having served opposite Daschle before leaving the Senate to run for president in 1996, Dole personally recruited his former nemesis to join him in the Washington office of the law firm Alston & Bird, where Dole is chief counsel. "He's the one who's encouraging this. He really wanted Daschle," says a Dole confidante.
Dole jumped to Alston & Bird two years ago from Verner Liipfert, another legal powerhouse, where he and former Democratic leader George Mitchell had a friendly gig going after battling each other over the Clinton health plan when they served opposite each other in the Senate.
Dole has made it a habit to reach out to his former rivals. He and Bill Clinton are buddies and have joined forces on charitable ventures. Dole and Daschle had an amiable relationship on Capitol Hill, but even if they hated each other, it wouldn't matter. Daschle is a hot property because of the contacts he made during his 24 years in Congress. Putting top dogs together from the two parties is how these high-powered lobbying and law firms constitute themselves. "It used to be there was the kind of person who was above doing that work," says Lawrence O'Donnell, who was chief of staff to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. "No more."
The combination of Dole-Daschle is a big draw for clients. Still, it's nice that bipartisanship is alive and well somewhere. Maybe there's a lesson here that when the almighty dollar is involved, people can figure out how to get along.