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WOULD THE REAL BOB DOLE PLEASE STAND UP?

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Maureen Dowd is confused. There are too many Bob Doles lurking around, talking about each other in the third person, getting in each other's way.

Why is this man always distancing himself from himself?The new Good Bob Dole is keeping the old Bad Bob Dole at bay, the one who growls and says wickedly funny things. While the new Bob Dole is not mean, he is not warm either, despite his debut effort at spontaneous campaigning, dropping by a dogsled race in a jazzy orange parka.

Bob Dole, candidate, has struggled to put aside Bob Dole, legislator.

And before he flew out of Manchester, N.H., in a Casablanca fog, he unveiled yet another persona.

"You're going to see the real Bob Dole out there from now on," he promised reporters, as if an impostor had been racking up these bad showings.

Every time Dole campaigns, he loses votes. He's taken overwhelming leads in Iowa and New Hampshire and knocked them down by 20 points. His effort here seemed, if possible, even more weak and sluggish than when he lost to George Bush in '88.

After all this time spent carrying water for the party, after all this time spent waiting his turn, Dole radiated a will to lose. He didn't act arrogant. He ran around in the snow because he thought George Bush had beaten him here by running around in the snow.

The Dole coterie blamed Steve Forbes' negative ads. But Dole was responsible for the melancholia engulfing his campaign. There was a lonely quality in his eyes, as though he knew, deep down, that he was not destined to win. A close adviser said later that he had not given the race his full attention, because he was torn about his duties in Washington.

Dole was a negative force field, always talking about what his campaign was not: "It's not about Bob Dole or Bill Clinton. It's not even about Republicans or Democrats. . . . We're not a young America or an old America. We're not urban and suburban, we're not rich and we're not poor, we're not black and we're not white, and you can go on and on and on and on. . . . It's about intolerance, which I will not tolerate."

Pat Buchanan has a dual persona as well. The old Pat was a charter member of the media elite, known around Washington as a guy who liked chardonnay, cats, walks on the beach, W.H. Auden poetry, dark suits, free trade, Mercedes sedans and Hermes ties, a guy who lives in a big house in a wealthy Virginia suburb.

The new Pat is a sulfurous protectionist populist, fearlessly tromping in the snow in his new casual wardrobe of green parka, fuzzy sweater and Irish cap. He comes across as a boilermaker and bowling-alley guy, not a wonky cat-loving, chardonnay-sipping, poetry-reading suburbanite.

But Buchanan has fun. He laughs demonically - his face scrunched up with mischief as he offers his barbs.

Asked why Dole lost, Buchanan cackled: "He had a bad hair night." His joy may be tempered by news that the most popular Republican not in the field told Sam Donaldson that he would not support Buchanan. "We have to have a message of inclusion," Colin Powell said.

Dole answered poignantly about his failure to rouse passion. "I mean, I am what I am," he said. "But I think I have a heart and a soul. And I know our party has a heart and a soul. But I just need to work on it a little bit, get it out there."

Presumably, this was the real Bob Dole talking. It remains to be seen whether he can keep the party, which he says "belongs to us," away from the Beltway's most prosperous populist. But at least all the Bob Doles know they'll never have to run in the New Hampshire primary again.