Tag Archives: Bob Dole

Happy birthday, Sen. Dole; thank you for saving the world

Robert Dole’s 95th birthday shines a vivid light on what we all have known for a long time.

It is that the world’s Greatest Generation is getting very old. Many of them are in failing health. They remind us daily — even without saying a word — of the sacrifice they made to protect us from tyranny and the tyrants who practiced it.

I saw a gentleman today, in fact, with a “World War II Veteran” ballcap. I thanked for him saving the world from the monsters who sought to enslave the world. He smiled and said, simply, “You’re welcome.”

That’s how it is with the Greatest Generation. They went to war, did their duty, answered the call and returned home to start their lives, rear their families, and live normal existences.

Sen. Dole is getting his share of good wishes today. He earned them all. He served for decades in the U.S. Senate, representing Kansas. He ran for president a couple of times, winning the Republican nomination in 1996 and then losing to President Clinton who won re-election in near-landslide proportions.

His service, though, preceded his political years by a good bit. It began when he enlisted in the U.S. Army and deployed to Italy, where he fought the Germans in the waning weeks of World War II.

Dole was wounded grievously in the Italian mountains. His right arm was shattered. He would keep his arm, but it became virtually useless.

He didn’t let the wound stop him from fulfilling many years of dedicated service to the country.

That’s how the Greatest Generation rolls. Indeed, subsequent and preceding generations of fighting men and women have exhibited these traits of selflessness.

However, I want to single out the Greatest Generation as a way to recognize one of its members, his service to the nation and take note of time’s inexorable march onward.

Happy birthday, Sen. Dole. And thank you.

Where is the outrage?

Back in 1996, when he was running for president of the United States, Republican nominee Bob Dole shouted at campaign rallies “Where’s the outrage!” over alleged indiscretions about President Clinton.

He would go on to lose the election bigly, but the question persists to this day.

Where is the outrage — from the current president of the United States — over allegations that Russian government officials sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election?

Donald John Trump has said nary a disparaging word about Russia’s efforts to cast Hillary Rodham Clinton in a negative light and whether those efforts played a role in the election outcome.

Oh, no. The president has instead lashed out at special counsel Robert Mueller, calling his investigation the “biggest political witch hunt” in American political history. He has ripped into what he calls “fake news” media outlets. He has dismissed openly the analysis of several U.S. intelligence agencies’ view that, yes, the Russians did hack into our electoral system.

Rather than expressing anger, fear and outrage that the Russians meddled in our electoral system, the president instead has questioned the need to determine the truth and the motives of those who are seeking to find it.

He’s hired a team of lawyers to represent him, which is a tacit acknowledgment that he is under investigation by Mueller over his campaign’s possible role in that election-meddling. Then one of them goes on television over the weekend and says — in the same interview — that Trump is being investigated by Mueller and that he is not being investigated.

All the while, the president remains stone-cold silent about Russian hanky-panky.

Where is the outrage, Mr. President?

‘Ready for Joe!’ in 2020?

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Human Rights Campaign Spring Equity Convention in Washington, Friday, March 6, 2015. Biden said the same human rights that African Americans fought for in Selma, Alabama, are at stake for gay rights activists today. Biden is drawing parallels between the civil rights and gay rights movements in a speech to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Joe Biden said “farewell” today to the U.S. Senate, where he served for 36 years before becoming vice president of the United States in 2009.

Then he joked that he might not be going anywhere after all.

Or … was he joking?

The vice president said he won’t rule out a run for the presidency in 2020. He’s not saying he will, mind you. He’s just not saying “no.”

Here we go with the speculation.

It’s how it goes these days. We get through one presidential election and the guessing begins for the next one. The VP has leavened the discussion just a bit.

There was this from NBCNews.com: “I doubt that there is any member of the caucus that would say if you’re making alist of the top three people he’s just about at the top of that list,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Hoyer was talking about Biden, of course.


I’m not going to get into the guessing game here. Let’s just note the obvious, which is that the vice president will be 78 years of age in 2020. Who was the oldest man to seek the presidency? That would be Sen. Bob Dole, who was 73 when he lost to President Clinton in 1996.

I wanted Biden to run this year. Four years from now?

I’m going to wait before getting too worked up.

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.

Get ready for record low turnout … possibly


John Ellis Bush likely spoke for a lot of Americans over the weekend.

He doesn’t like Donald J. Trump and he won’t vote for him for president. Nor does he trust Hillary Rodham Clinton, so she won’t get his vote, either.

Bush — aka “Jeb” — is quite likely going to leave the top of his ballot blank when the time comes for him to vote.

He said it “breaks my heart” that he cannot support the Republican Party nominee, Trump. But he and the presumptive GOP nominee have some history that Bush cannot set aside.

Bush told MSBNC’s Nicolle Wallace — a former communications director for President George W.  Bush — that Trump has conducted what amounts to a successful mutiny of the Republican Party. He praises the real estate mogul/TV celebrity for winning the party nomination fair and square. Trump, though, did it by tapping into a voter sentiment that none of the other GOP candidates — including Jeb Bush — could locate.

This makes me think my earlier prediction of a potentially record-low-turnout election might not be too far off the mark.

The current record belongs to the 1996 contest that saw President Bill Clinton re-elected over Bob Dole and Ross Perot with just a 49 percent turnout of eligible voters.

Now we have polling data that tell us Hillary Clinton and Trump are profoundly disliked by most voters. FBI Director James Comey’s stunning critique of Clinton’s handling of classified information on her personal e-mail server has only heightened voters’ mistrust of her … and to think that the director then said he wouldn’t recommend criminal charges be brought against her!

As for Trump, well, I won’t weigh in here. You know how much I despise that guy.

Jeb Bush won’t attend the GOP convention. Neither will his brother and father — two former presidents. Nor will Mitt Romney or John McCain, the party’s two most recent presidential nominee.

Oh, and the governor of the state where the convention will take place? Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another former Republican presidential candidate, won’t darken the door at the Cleveland arena where delegates are going to nominate Donald Trump.

Let’s face the daunting reality that a lot of Americans just might follow Jeb’s lead and stay home.

Good luck, editorialists, in making your decision


Newspaper endorsements don’t matter as much as they have historically.

People get their news and commentary from myriad sources. They turn less and less to newspaper editorial pages for guidance, counsel, wisdom and thoughtful commentary.

This election year is going to give those who write editorial commentary for a living a special challenge.

Who of the two major-party presidential candidates will get their endorsement? Will either of them get an endorsement? Will newspaper editorial boards throw up their collective hands and ask, “What in the hell is the point?”

I did that kind of work for most of my 37 years in daily print journalism.

I wrote editorials for a small daily suburban newspaper in Oregon City, Ore., from 1979 until 1984; I did the same thing as editorial writer and later editor of the editorial page for the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise; then I became editorial page editor of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News in 1995, a job I held until August 2012.

The choices this year appear — in the minds of many journalists — to be pretty grim. Dismal. Miserable. Who gets the paper’s nod — Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton or Republican Donald J. Trump?

Now it’s time for an admission: On several occasions during my three-plus decades in daily journalism, I wrote editorial endorsements with which I disagreed. I don’t have that burden to bear these days.

In 1980, knowing my publisher could not endorse President Carter for re-election, I drafted an editorial endorsing independent candidate John B. Anderson. The publisher, in Oregon City, looked at it, brought the draft out to me and said, “No can do.” We endorsed Ronald Reagan for president; yes, I swallowed hard and wrote it.

I worked for Republican-leaning newspaper publishers throughout my career. Every four years I would huddle with the publisher and go through the motions of arguing my case for the candidate of my choosing … only to be told that “we” are going to endorse the other guy.

My final stop, of course, was in Amarillo, where I worked for a corporate ownership that is fervently Republican. Yes, through several presidential election cycles, the discussion of presidential endorsements was brief and quite, shall we say, “frank.”

Bob Dole got our nod in 1996, George W. Bush got it in 2000 and 2004, John McCain earned it in 2008. I was tasked with overseeing the publication of all of them. I cannot remember which of those I actually wrote.

The task facing editorialists this year will be daunting. I’m glad it’s their call and no longer mine.

I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see how my former employer comes down in this year’s race. Clinton has zero chance of being endorsed by a newspaper owned by Morris Communications Corp. I also doubt they’ll go with the Libertarian ticket led by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Trump is the last man standing. If the Globe-News takes the plunge, I’ll await with interest how it will set aside all the ridiculous assertions, lies, the candidate’s utter lack of knowledge of anything and the absence of any grounding principles.

Take my word for it, the corporate bosses are a conservative bunch and I will be interested to see how — or if — they set aside those principles just to recommend someone simply because he pledges to “build a wall” and “make America great again.”

Could I write that one? A friend and former colleague of mine was fond of saying, “If you take The Man’s money, you play by The Man’s rules.” Thus, I was able to justify setting aside my own personal taste and philosophy to do The Man’s bidding.

This time? I couldn’t.

I’d walk out before having to write anything that recommends Trump’s election as president.

Good luck, my former colleagues, as you deliberate over this one.

But … senator, you cast your vote in secret


Bob Dole says he just cannot support Hillary Rodham Clinton’s quest for the presidency.

The former Republican U.S. senator from Kansas said he’s been a Republican all his life. Donald J. Trump, his party’s presumed presidential nominee, is “flawed,” according to Dole, but he’s getting his vote anyway.

“I have an obligation to the party. I mean, what am I going to do? I can’t vote for George Washington. So I’m supporting Donald Trump,” Dole explained Friday on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

I think I want to reset this for just a moment.

I have great respect and admiration for Sen. Dole. I admire him for his valiant service to the country in the Army during World War II, for his years in the Senate and for his ability to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats; he and fellow World War II hero Sen. George McGovern, for example, were great personal friends and occasional legislative partners, particularly on programs involving agriculture.

He said, though, that he has to put party first and he must support Trump in his upcoming fight against Clinton.

The reset is this: Sen. Dole can say it all he wants — until he runs out of breath — that he’s going to vote a certain way.

But one of the many beauties of our political system is that we get to vote in private. It’s a secret. We all can blab our brains out over who we intend to vote for, but when the time comes we can change our mind.


I think of Bob Dole as more of a patriot than a partisan.

He had been involved with government for many decades. He ran for president himself in 1996, losing in an Electoral College landslide to President Bill Clinton.

I don’t intend to sound cynical about what Bob Dole is going to do when the time comes to cast his vote. However, his party’s presidential nominee is like a volcano waiting to erupt.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Sen. Dole changes his mind over the course of the next few weeks and perhaps decide to keep that spot on his ballot unchecked.

A part of me would like to prove it.

Is this election going to set a low-turnout record?


Some months ago I mentioned to friends that I thought the 2016 election would produce a low-turnout result.

My friends laughed me out of the proverbial room. Why? They were certain that if the major-party presidential nominees were going to be Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump that they would energize their parties’ respective bases like no other candidate could do.

Well, here we are. Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee; Clinton hasn’t quite achieved presumptive status yet, but she’s going to be the Democratic nominee, just as she boasted the other day to CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

What do I think now about the turnout?

It’s going to be low. How do I know that? I don’t know it.

But the talk all around Pundit World centers on the high negative feelings that both candidates engender among voters. Trump polls about 70 percent unfavorable; Clinton’s unfavorable rating sits at around 60 percent.

The previous low-turnout record belongs to President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who ran against each other in 1996. Clinton won re-election that year with just 49 percent of eligible Americans actually voting that year. Clinton, of course, didn’t collect a majority that year, winning a healthy plurality, just as he did four years earlier; third-party candidate Ross Perot sucked enough votes away to deny the president a majority.

I have to agree with those who say that Clinton and Trump both are deeply wounded frontrunners. Trump’s failings are too numerous to mention; at every level one can mention, Trump is the most unfit major-party candidate ever to seek the presidency. Clinton’s been scrutinized carefully for more than two decades and she continues to suffer from this perception that she’s shifty and untrustworthy.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say — either to me directly or to others — that they’re going to sit this one out. Republicans cannot vote for Clinton, even though they cannot stomach the idea of Trump carrying their party’s banner into battle.

Democrats aren’t going to walk the plank in favor of Trump.

Where do they turn? A third-party candidate still might emerge to capture the imagination of voters who are disgusted with the major parties’ selections.

If no one emerges, well, this election is looking as though it will set a dubious record for non-involvement.

Is that a mandate the winner will embrace?

Can politics intrude on a politician’s day job?

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL, speaks at the Democratic National Committee's Womens Leadership Forum Issues Conference in Washington, DC on September 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

I’ve long wondered something about full-time politicians who take on jobs outside of the job they were elected to do.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Well, she’s my latest example.

Schultz is a Democratic member of Congress who represents southern Florida. She also is chair of the Democratic National Committee.

She’s certainly not the first full-time pol to assume duties unrelated to her congressional work. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole once represented Kansas while serving as chair of the Republican National Committee. Interestingly, he resigned his Senate seat when the GOP nominated him to run for president in 1996; he said he couldn’t do both things at the same time, so he decided to set aside his Senate duties.

Schultz doesn’t do that. No, she runs the Democratic Party while serving her constituents in south Florida.

How well does she do either job, or both?

This issue of running for a higher office while holding down an elected job already has come up during the 2016 presidential campaign. GOP contender Marco Rubio has been criticized for missing many Senate votes while stumping for his party’s nomination. New Jersey Democrats made noise about seeking Gov. Chris Christie’s ouster after Christie declared he wanted to be the Republican nominee this year.

Other members of Congress are seeking the presidency this year. To my knowledge there’s been little said about how well they’re doing their current job while they seek to be elected to another one.

Schultz was re-elected in 2014 by a wide margin, so I guess her constituents think she’s doing all right.

It’s fair to wonder though: How does she deal with purely local issues? How much attention do her constituents get from her — or her staff — when they have concerns about their Social Security or military pension checks?

Schultz has a big job running a major political party. She also has a big job representing her constituents on Capitol Hill; the latter job also pays her $175,000 annually, plus all the ancillary perks she and her colleagues get while serving in Congress.

I occasionally wonder whether politicians who hold down full-time government jobs can do those jobs adequately when other matters divert their attention from the duties they were elected to perform.


Pals still reach across the aisle on Capitol Hill

dole and inouye

Collegiality isn’t dead in Washington, D.C., after all.

I’m not reporting anything new here; I’m merely passing on an interesting Texas Tribune piece about how some Texas members of Congress — who are generally conservative to ultra-conservative — have become friends with some New York liberal members of Congress.

It does my heart good to read of this kind of thing.

Bipartisanship lives in the halls of Congress, reports Abby Livingston in an article published by the Tribune.

She notes how East Texas U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, one of the House of Representatives’ conservative firebrand, routinely saves a seat next to him for the State of the Union speech for Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat. Gohmert is adamantly opposed to further gun regulation; Maloney, however, is just as adamantly in favor of it.

According to the Tribune: “It’s not hard to be friends with people who are honest, and she sees many important issues, to me, very differently,” Gohmert said. “But I know she wants what’s best for the country, but we just have different beliefs as to what that is.”

You want another example? U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has become good friends with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Cruz is a Republican (of course!) and Gillibrand is a Democrat; Cruz is ultraconservative; Gillibrand is ultraliberal.

As the Tribune reported: “I have always been impressed with people who stand up for principle when it matters and when there’s a price to be paid,” Cruz said of Gillibrand in a June interview.

Partisanship often has morphed into personal attacks for a number of years in the halls of Congress. Perhaps it showed itself most dramatically when then-GOP Vice President Dick Cheney told Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy to “go f*** yourself” during a heated exchange on the floor of the Senate.

That’s the bipartisan spirit, Mr. Vice President.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. Members of both parties shared common bonds that quite often transcended partisan differences. Not many years ago, that commonality was forged by World War II, with combat veterans joining together to pursue public service careers while sitting across the aisle from each other.

Two examples come to mind.

U.S. Sens. Bob Dole, a Kansas Republican, and Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat, both suffered grievous injuries fighting the Nazis in World War II. They were both injured in separate battles in Italy near the end of the war in Europe. They were evacuated and spent time in the same rehab hospital in the United States.

They became fast friends and bridge partners. They took that friendship with them to the Senate. Tom Brokaw’s acclaimed book “The Greatest Generation” tells of this friendship that went far beyond the many political differences the two men had.

Sens. George McGovern, a South Dakota Democrat, and Barry Goldwater, an Arizona Republican, both were World War II aviators. McGovern was as liberal as they come; Goldwater was equally conservative. They, too, became close friends while serving in the Senate. Both men survived the harrowing crucible of aerial combat while fighting to save the world from tyranny.

Their political differences were vast, but so was their friendship.

Many of us have lamented the bad blood that flows between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. I’ve been one of those who’s complained about it.

As the Texas Tribune reports, though, collegiality still can be found … if you know where to look.