Tag Archives: Bob Dole

Dole reminded us of a kinder past

Robert Dole’s death has thrown me into the realm of recalling what another great American politician once referred to as a “kinder, gentler” time, when politics and politicians weren’t stained by hatred.

Dole died this past weekend at age 98. His death wasn’t a shock. We all knew it was coming soon. I mean, the man was nearly a century old and as they say, none of us gets out of here alive. He also had been ill with cancer, and I knew that, too.

Still, his passing reminds me of how politicians formerly conducted their business. They fought hard for their policies and their philosophy. Yet they managed somehow to maintain personal relationships with those with whom they fought while they were on the clock.

That seems to sum up the late Sen. Dole’s professional life.

One of the remarkable pieces of video I have seen since Dole’s death was of his accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the man who just a few weeks earlier had defeated him in the 1996 presidential election. President Clinton draped the medal around Dole’s neck and the beaten Republican nominee stood for a moment, then said, “I, Robert J. Dole … do solemnly swear.” He brought the house down. Then he said, “Oops. Wrong speech.” He also told the still-laughing crowd that he expected President Clinton to “give me something” when he arrived at the White House, but that he had hoped it would be “the keys to the front door.”

Can you imagine (a) Joe Biden ever awarding the man he defeated for the presidency the nation’s highest civilian medal and (b) Donald Trump accepting it with the kind of class that Bob Dole did in receiving it from the man who defeated him for the office he coveted?

The Donald Trump Era in presidential politics ushered in a new age of extreme animus. Indeed, Sen. Dole exemplified the quality of men and women who once led this country. They did so with class and dignity, which drew praise from their foes, even as they continued to disagree over basic policy matters.

I am going to hold out hope — being the eternal optimist I am — that we can find our way back to the way it was. Meanwhile, I will offer a word of thanks to Sen. Dole for reminding us of the lessons he taught us about graciousness and class.


Dole draws tributes from both sides

I am gratified to read the tributes that are pouring in from both sides of the great divide in Washington to honor the life and service of a genuine American hero.

Indeed, “hero” is a word we are hearing in the wake of Robert Dole’s death today at age 98.

Dole was a longtime Republican Senate stalwart, a man who knew how to work across the aisle. He built friendships that transcended whatever political differences he had with his colleagues.

To hear Democratic politicians praise Dole’s service to the country, starting with his combat service during World War II, gives me hope that we might be able someday to bridge the chasm that has turned mere political opponents into enemies.

Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: ‘Bona fide American hero’ | TheHill

Our current lawmakers can take a page from the example that former Sen. Bob Dole set during his long, productive and profoundly distinguished life.


Another hero has departed

A former U.S. senator, presidential and vice-presidential candidate, and World War II hero has left us and the world he leaves behind should mourn its loss forever.

I refer to Robert Dole, the one-time senator from Kansas.

Oh, my. He was a Republican tough guy who emerged from the crucible of world conflict to become eventually a statesman and a man who built solid relationships and friendships across the vast span of the political spectrum.

To be candid about Dole, he leaves behind a complicated legacy.

He was wounded grievously near the end of World War II. He lost the use of his right arm. He rehabilitated himself after the war ended. Dole would run eventually for Congress, ending up in the Senate.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford selected him to run as vice president as Ford sought election to the presidency. During a vice-presidential debate with his friend Sen. Walter Mondale, Dole blurted out a remark about how the nation had suffered during “Democrat wars,” saying that Democratic presidents were on the watch when World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War all broke out. It was an unfortunate analogy to make.

He snarled at Vice President George H.W. Bush on national TV — against whom he was competing for the 1988 GOP nomination for president — telling Bush to “stop lying about my record.”

Over time, though, Dole’s image softened. He morphed into an elder statesman, an individual to whom other politicians — of both parties — turned for advice and counsel. His good humor replaced the occasionally tart tenor of his comments.

He ran for president in 1996 as the GOP nominee, challenging President Clinton’s re-election effort. I did not vote for Dole. However, I want to stipulate in the strongest terms possible that I never lost my abiding respect for the service and sacrifice he gave to the country we all love.

His brand of politician, I hate saying, is vanishing before our eyes.

May this good and heroic man rest in eternal peace.


Is there a ‘woodshed’ in Rep. Tlaib’s future?

Wouldn’t you know it? A rookie member of the U.S. House of Representatives blurts out a profane declaration, about how House Democrats are going to “impeach the mother***er” and fellow Democrats start expressing their anger at this upstart.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has made her mark immediately. It’s not a pretty mark. She was seeking to fire up a crowd of progressive activists when she offered the foul-mouthed pledge to impeach Donald J. Trump.

Democrats getting angry

Other Democrats are upset that Tlaib has overturned their efforts to orchestrate an orderly transition to power in the House, now that they are in the majority. They don’t want to rush into what might turn out to be a foolish act if they seek impeachment before knowing all the facts related to the myriad issues at hand.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to file his report soon on his probe into “The Russia Thing.” Loudmouths like Tlaib are getting way ahead of themselves.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who calls impeachment a “last resort” — might need to escort the young freshman lawmaker to the proverbial “woodshed” for a woman-to-woman chat about how things get done in the People’s House. She ought to rethink her hands-off approach to Democratic caucus members’ fiery rhetoric.

It reminds of a time many years ago when a whipper-snapper U.S. senator named Rick Santorum sought to challenge one of the Senate’s elders about legislating.

The late Sen. Mark Hatfield, an Oregon Republican, chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. He decided to vote against a defense bill to pay for a new nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Corpus Christi. Why the objection? Hatfield was a deeply religious man and he didn’t like the idea of a weapon of war carrying a name that translated from the Latin means “Body of Christ.” Santorum, a newly elected Republican from Pennsylvania, raised a stink about it and sought to have Hatfield removed from his key committee chairmanship.

One of the GOP Senate elders, Bob Dole of Kansas, took Santorum aside and said, in effect, “Young man, don’t even think about challenging Mark Hatfield.”

Santorum backed off.

There ought to be a similar scolding in Rep. Tlaib’s future as well.

Tough to watch Sen. Dole

The scene was almost too much to bear.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a World War II hero of the first order, needed help to stand while he saluted the casket carrying his one time political rival, former President (and fellow World War II hero) George H.W. Bush.

Dole is a very old man now. His body is betraying him. He was pushed in a wheelchair toward the 41st president’s casket. To watch this great man struggle to stand — at attention! — while he paid tribute to the president tore hard at my heart.

Oh, I remember the day when Sen. Dole was known as a political pit bull. He ran as vice presidential running mate to President Ford on the 1976 Republican ticket. Do you remember when he referred –during a vice-presidential debate with Sen. Walter Mondale — to World War II, Korea and Vietnam as “Democrat wars”?

Then in 1988, he competed for the GOP presidential nomination against Vice President Bush, the same man he saluted today under the Capitol Dome. On a split TV screen, he said through a scowl that the VP should “stop lying about my record.”

In 1996, Dole became the Republican presidential nominee but lost in a landslide to President Clinton, who won re-election that year.

But before all that, Sen. Dole was a young soldier fighting for his country against the Nazis. In 1945, near the end of World War II, the young soldier was wounded grievously while trying to rescue another Army infantryman. He would lose the use of his right arm as a result of his wound. It didn’t stop him from pursuing a long and distinguished career in politics.

To watch him, then, struggle today and then lift his left hand to salute his former rival, well . . . it broke my heart.

Sen. Dole, too, is part of the Greatest Generation. He is a man to whom we all owe a debt of eternal gratitude for helping turn back the tyrants and for his decades of continued public service for the nation he cherishes.

Trump-Pence 2020 in possible doubt?

It’s not unheard of, but in recent years it’s a rare occurrence when a president of the United States jettisons a vice president and runs with a new running mate while seeking re-election.

Newsweek magazine is reporting that Donald Trump’s key advisers are floating the notion of replacing Vice President Mike Pence with U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.

Why? Because the vice president was highly critical of that hideous “Access Hollywood” tape in which the future president disclosed how he could grab women by their genitals. Pence, a devout Christian, reportedly was incensed over what he heard … and Trump hasn’t forgiven Pence for the apparent “disloyalty,” according to Newsweek.

I am not going to dictate what I think Trump should do. That’s his call. Frankly, the vice president’s future is of little interest to me, other than whether he would ascend to the presidency if — dare I suggest it — that Trump doesn’t finish his term.

The most recent president to switch VPs was Gerald R. Ford, who kicked Vice President Nelson Rockefeller — who was appointed to the office — to the curb. President Ford selected Sen. Bob Dole as his 1976 running mate. The president lost his bid for election to the office to which he was appointed to Jimmy Carter.

Newsweek reportsThe president could be considering new strategies for his next campaign after Republicans were dealt major blows in last week’s midterm elections. Democrats picked up at least 36 seats to retake the House and prevented Republicans from further bolstering their lead in the Senate. This was an election Trump had turned into a referendum on his first two years in office.

Indeed, as I watched the returns roll in, it appears to many of us that Trump lost that “referendum” … bigly, if you know what I mean.

Does he toss the vice president overboard in some sort of hail-Mary effort to save his presidency? Not a damn thing would surprise me.

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.