Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole celebrated his birthday Monday, and the University of Kansas participated by holding a ceremony at the Dole Institute of Politics, home of Dole’s official archives. Known for his sometimes biting humor, his service in World War II and his ability to find common ground among political opponents, Dole is certain to have a lasting place in Kansas, and national, history.
The former senator brought respect to Kansas and helped the rest of the country understand the hard work, persistence, common-sense problem-solving and compassion that are characteristic of many people who call Kansas home.
Dole, who wasn’t without his faults, helped craft the Americans with Disabilities Act – a law that has improved greatly the everyday lives of people with disabilities. He also helped pass the Civil Rights Act, which brought together the interests of rural and urban lawmakers on a farm bill and nutrition program; helped secure financing for the construction of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.; and is known for his ability to bring together the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party.
But even as Sen. Pat Roberts penned a beautiful tribute to his mentor and friend, recalling the important work Dole performed on behalf of Kansans and Americans, the truth is that today Dole would be an outcast in the party he once led.
"There were a lot of differences in the days I was in the Senate," Dole recently told CNN. "But in every case we were able to work out the differences. We disagreed, but we respected each other. We never had an unkind word about each other."
Earlier this year, when an older, frailer Dole approached Congress in his wheelchair to appeal for passage of a U.N. treaty on disabilities, he was greeted with applause and recognition for his lifetime of work on behalf of the disabled. As soon as the former leader left the chamber, however, the appreciation for Dole evaporated and the conversation descended into paranoid ramblings of a group of people who see compromise as a four-letter word and progress as something to fear.
It is worthwhile to pause and recognize the 90th birthday of a man who worked to advance the nation - and in the process secured a good name for Kansas - but it also might be a good time to recall the good old days when elected leaders understood what it really meant to be a servant of the people.
— The Hutchinson News