Senator Dole is no more. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years. But that’s not why I chose to write about him.
World War II. April 1945. Mountains of northern Italy. Bob Dole’s platoon comes under German artillery fire. While bravely attempting to pull a colleague who had been shot, a shrapnel strikes him - fracturing his spine and all but taking away his right shoulder. Took him several years to recover, and recover he did. But that’s not why I chose to write about him.
College. Law School. Kansas State Legislature. County Attorney. Congressman in 1960. Senator in 1968. This began an illustrious career in politics spanning six administrations. But that’s not why I chose to write about him.
Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976. Dropped out of Presidential primaries after NH in 1980. Lost the republican nomination to H W Bush in 1988. Finally ran for President in 1996, only to lose to Clinton. But that’s not why I chose to write about him.
Bob Dole’s legacy is not that he lived till the ripe old age of 98 or that he made multiple runs at the presidency. Nor is it his amazing championing of veterans and disability rights. Bob Dole will forever be remembered for his innate sense of fairness. His reputation as someone willing to reach across the aisles and bridge the partisan divide. Equally respected by Republicans and Democrats alike - Senator Dole was truly unique. Democracy means that we stand united even when we are on different sides of the aisle. We fight for what we believe in, but we fight fair with decency, dignity and respect.
With Bob Dole, we just lost a great practitioner of democracy.