Bob Packwood

What was the accusation?

The story of Senator Bob Packwood’s sexual harassment of various women broke in a November 1992 article in the Washington Post.  The article claimed that Packwood had made uninvited sexual advances toward at least 10 different women who were part of his staff.  Although Packwood was publicly seen as a champion of women’s rights during his 24 years in the Senate, the private allegations of these women were damaging to his political reputation.  According to the article, several of the women claimed Packwood “was abrupt, grabbing them without warning, kissing them forcefully and persisting until they made clear that they were not interested or had pushed him away.” After a more thorough investigation of the evidence, the Senate Ethics Committee voted 6-0 to expel him and Packwood subsequently resigned.  The following is his speech of resignation on the Senate floor.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Bolstering, Mortification, Good Intentions, Defeasibility



Transcript of Packwood’s Resignation Speech

I thank the chair, I thank the majority leader.  I think many of you are aware of why I am here today.  I am aware of the dishonor that has befallen me over the last three years and I don’t want to revisit further that dishonor on the Senate.  I respect this institution, my colleagues too much…too much for that.  For 27 years, I’ve worked alongside Bob Dole, Ted Stevens, a few others from that era.  Most of all with Mark Hatfield, who was not just a colleague, but a friend of almost fifty years standing.  Who I met when I was a young teenage Republican.  And he was a bright, young, as yet unelected state legislator and suddenly turned out to be my teacher, mentor, friend, and fraternity president.

There have been many successes in these 27 years, some failures, some frustrations. Let me remember a few, if I could, with your indulgence. Hell’s Canyon.  That great gash in the earth that is the boundary between Idaho and Oregon.  The Snake River running through it.  The deepest gorge in the United States.  In the late 60’s early 70’s for about six years, we had a battle on trying to stop a dam from being built in the gorge and at the same time create a national recreation area. And the humor I see in this as I smile at some of the newspaper stories that I’ve seen recently about business lobbyists writing legislation. I want you to picture this trip.  We were on a raft trip on the river.  I had been invited by a lot of environmentalists, mostly strangers that I did not know.  I had not seen the gorge before. They wanted me to see it and become involved in the seeing of it.  And one night around the campfire, I believe it was Brock Evans, who is now at the Audubon Society, but then with the Sierra Club.  I think it was Brock.  We have a highway manual.  It has Oregon and Washington on it.  He takes out a laundry pen.  I kind of think is this where the boundaries ought to be.  He draw on it.  And somebody on the trip says “What about those minerals that are down there in Idaho?” And he looks at that and says “alright” and he crosses that out and draws it up here.  That became the boundaries.  The humor was realizing this was drawn with a marking pen.  When you take it to the legislative council’s office and say “here”…Do you know how many miles there is in a marker pen?  And he’d say to me, “Where are these boundaries?” and I would kind of have to smile and say “You’ll have to call Brock, I’m not sure quite where they go.” We save it.

Truck deregulation an arcane subject.  It’s probably saved the consumers more money and worked better than anything in deregulation that we’ve done.

Abortion early on, a lonely fight. I remember in 1970, in ’71, when I introduced the first national abortion legislation, could get no co-sponsor in the Senate. Only one nibble in the House from Pete McCloskey who did not quite come on as a sponsor but nibbled. Two years before Roe v.s. Wade, those were lonely days and that is not a fight that is even yet secured.

Israel, my trips there to the golden domes. The fight that so many of us have made year after year to keep that bastion of our area safe and free and to this date, not guaranteed.

Tax reform in 1986, we were up against the verge of failure. The House had passed a middling bill.  I was chairman of the Finance Committee and every day we were voting away 15 or 20 billion dollars in more loopholes. And I finally just adjourned the committee and said we’re done. I remember Bill Armstrong saying, “We’re done for the day?” I said, “No, we’re done for the session, we’re not going to have any more meetings, this is it.’ “

Bill Diefenderfer and I, my chief counsel, went out to the Irish Times and had a famous two pitchers of beer. Those were in the days when I drank. I quit drinking years ago. But I can see why they call it courage. By the time we’d finished the second pitcher, we had drafted out on our napkin the outlines. And [inaudible] said “Ok, they want tax reform, we’ll give them tax reform.” Here’s an example of this body that can move. When it wants to move. From the time that committee first saw the bill until they passed it in 12 days.  Pat Moynihan was a critical player in that as six of us met every morning at 8:30 before the committee meeting.  Passed the Senate within a month.  So when people say this body cannot move, this body can move.  Maybe some of the best advice I had came from Bill Ross, successor to John Williams, years ago.  When he used the expression…we were having a debate in those days about the filibuster and how many votes.  In those days, I was in favor of lowering the number. I’m not sure that even though we were in the majority I would favor that now.  From two-thirds to sixty votes.  John Williams said “We make more mistakes in haste than we lose in opportunities in delay.”  If something should pass, it will pass.  It may take four or five years. That’s not a long time in the history of the republic.  But too often in haste, we pass things and have to recant.  So for whatever advice I would have, I would hope that we would not make things too easy in this body.  To slip through, and I say that as a member of the majority.

Tuition tax credits.  A failure.  Pat Moynihan and I introduced the first bill in 1977 and we’ve been introducing it ever since.  The day may come, it may be here, where one of the great moments of humor…you have to picture this situation.  It’s the Carter administration, they’re terribly opposed to this tuition tax credit.  Secretary Califano testified against it twice in the Ways and Means Committee.  Came to a finance committee meeting and assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Dick Warden, came to testify.  He had previously been with the United Auto Workers. He was hired on as the lobbyist basically for Health and Human Services, HEW as we called it then.  He was about 30 seconds into his testimony when Senator Moynihan leans forward and he said, “Mr. Warden, why are you here? Hmm?  Why are you here?” Mr. Warden goes “Why, I’m the assistant secretary for legislative affairs for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and I’m here representing the secretary and the administration.” And Pat goes, “No, no, Mr. Warden, I didn’t do the emphasis right.  Why are YOU here?” Now Pat says, “Secretary Califano testified twice in opposition to this bill in the House in this committee where there’s a more favorable climate.  Where is the secretary today?”  Mr. Warden goes “Why, I…uh..think he’s in Cleveland speaking.”  And Pat goes, “Well, where is the undersecretary? Why isn’t he here today representing the administration?” And Mr. Warden goes, “Why, I’m not sure.”  And Pat’s voice rises and he says, “And where is the assistant secretary for education?  Mr. Warden I was in the Kennedy administration when that position was created and I can tell you that man has utterly nothing to do at all.  He could be here testifying today.  And Mr. Warden, I’ll tell you where they are.  They’re off on the eighth floor of their building cowering under their desks afraid to come forth and testify in the most important piece of education that’s been introduced in this century.  And Mr. Warden, that is why you are here. Now, please go on.” Poor Mr. Warden barely went on. I’ve had more humor and education from Pat than probably anybody here. Friendships beyond count. The camaraderies [inaudible]. John Chafee sitting back here, my squad partner, his secretary about every three months, kicks out our squash matches.  Over fifteen years, 202-199. And his secretary not only kicks out the matches, but the games and the scores within the matches. John every now and then presents it to me. Back we go. Back and forth. Back and forth as evenly matched as you can be.

Some here — Senator Byrd would, Senator Exon would, some in my age group will remember General MacArthur’s final speech at West Point: Duty, Honor, Country. It is my duty to resign. It is the honorable thing to do for this country, for the Senate.

So I now announce that I will resign from the Senate, and I leave this institution not with malice but with love. Good luck. Godspeed.


Statement Made to the Washington Post:

If any of my comments or actions have indeed been unwelcome or if I have conducted myself in any way that has caused any individual discomfort or embarrassment, for that I am sincerely sorry. My intentions were never to pressure, to offend, nor to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and I truly regret if that has occurred with anyone either on or off my staff.

Statement Made During Interview on Larry King Live:

What I was apologizing for–and again, I want you to remember, Larry, at that time, the only charges were the seven that the Washington Post had brought up. And, of the seven, three women I didn’t know. And none of the incidents did I recognize as they talked about them. So what I apologized for–and I’m paraphrasing it, because I can’t remember [what] the exact words were–whatever it was I did, even if I couldn’t remember it, I apologized for it. And I apologize for it again tonight. If I did things I can’t remember, didn’t know, or to people I didn’t know, I’m embarrassed and I apologize. And that’s what I meant.


Chen, E. (1995, September 8). Senator Packwood resigns: Tearful Packwood bows to pressure, says he’ll resign : Senate: ‘It is the honorable thing to do,’ disgraced lawmaker says, ending a three-year drama. At end, even his staunchest backers recoiled from misconduct charges. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from:

Gabriel, T. (1993, August 29). The trials of Bob Packwood. New York Times. Retrieved from:

Pianin, E., & Graves, F. (1992, November 24). Senate urged to probe Packwood allegations. Washington Post. Retrieved from:

Tolchin, M. (1992, December 11). Packwood offers apology without saying for what. New York Times. Retrieved from: