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.