Sen. Dole reminds GOP of its dignified past

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 20:  Former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., salutes the casket of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, as his body lies in state in the Capitol rotunda, as Dole's wife, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., looks on.  Bob Dole and Inouye knew each other since they were recovering from World War II battle wounds.  Dole was assisted to the casket saying "I wouldn't want Danny to see me in a wheelchair."  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Many Republican luminaries are staying away from the Republican Party’s national presidential nominating convention.

But not all of them.

A serious man attended today’s opening of the convention in Cleveland.

He is former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, the Kansas Republican who represented his state and served our country with tremendous honor.

Sen. Dole was there to support presumptive presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. That’s what party loyalists do, whether they’re Democrat or Republican. Dole is a loyalist to the core.

He also represents another time in this country when Republicans and Democrats could be political adversaries, not enemies.

MSNBC commentators took note of Dole’s distinguished career in public life. They brought up his years in the Senate. They mentioned how, in 1976, President Ford selected him as his running mate to assuage conservatives’ concerns. They talked also of Dole’s conservative principles as he ran for president in 1988 against fellow Republican George H.W. Bush.

Of course, they mentioned his losing 1996 presidential campaign against President Clinton.

Here’s another element of Dole’s service they mentioned: They talked about his heroic service in the Army during World War II, in which he suffered grievous injury while fighting the Nazis in Italy.

It was right after coming home from the battlefield that young Bob Dole would meet another young American with whom he would undergo rehabilitation. The forged a friendship in the rehab hospital that would last a lifetime.

The other young man was Daniel Inouye, who would become a U.S. senator from Hawaii, and who was as loyal to his Democratic Party as Dole is to the GOP.

Inouye also suffered near-mortal wounds during World War II. He would receive the Medal of Honor for his battlefield heroics.

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd took particular note today of when Sen. Inouye died and his friend Bob Dole stood in front of Inouye’s casket to salute him. He told the honor guard that his “good friend Danny wouldn’t want to see me sitting here” in a wheelchair, Todd said.

Dole represented a time when senators could disagree, but maintain personal affection and friendship.

I was gratified to see this member of the “greatest generation” one more time.

If only his political descendants — on both sides of the partisan divide — would follow the example of collegiality that he and his “good friend Danny” set for politicians all across the land.

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