December 9, 2021

Bob Dole

Bob Dole, who overcame disabling war wounds to become a sharp-tongued Senate leader from Kansas, a Republican presidential candidate and then a symbol and celebrant of his dwindling generation of World War II veterans, died Sunday. He was 98.” AP News

Both sides praise Dole’s record of public service and ability to work across the aisle:

"When mourners gather this week to share stories about Bob Dole, what a feast they will have as they reminisce about the venerated politician's friendships, humor and, above all, his commitment to country. One of the GOP's longest-serving leaders, Dole could be a partisan. (He'd blamed his opponents, for example, for causing ‘Democrat wars.’) But like the relationship between Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan, Dole might joust with an opposing president by day and call a truce by night if it was in service of the American people. He had many adversaries in Washington, but few enemies."
David Gergen, CNN

“Dole could play hardball with the best of them. But he understood that America’s constitutional democracy, with its elegant system of checks and balances, requires our leaders to form a new majority on each issue. And he worked endlessly to find those majorities at a time when both parties still believed in compromise too…

“In the 1970s, he teamed up with George McGovern to establish the school lunch program. In the 1980s, he and Patrick Moynihan joined forces to put Social Security on a sound financial footing for another generation. In 1990, he worked with Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. Long after leaving the Senate, he worked with former adversary Tom Daschle to promote health care reform that could win bipartisan support.”
Scott Reed, The Dispatch

"Mr. Dole was a sometimes controversial figure occasionally given, especially early in his career, to irritated outbursts. None of that should obscure the substance and significance of his accomplishments. He led — as minority and majority leader — with a sense of the need to get things done. We didn’t always agree with him, but on big matters such as the vital civil rights bills of the 1960s and later on expanding food stamp coverage, he took strong and principled stands in favor. And he worked with members of both parties…

“‘The Senate does not reward extremes,’ said a colleague, Bill Bradley of New Jersey, when Mr. Dole left that body in June 1996. Mr. Dole, he continued, ‘knew how to use power because he understood how to make things happen in the center of this institution. And that is ultimately built on a couple of personal facts. I mean, he always kept his word. He listened very carefully. He never held a grudge.’ This was, keep in mind, a prominent Democrat discussing the leader of the Senate’s Republicans, and it was barely 25 years ago. Kind of makes you wish there really was a bridge to the past.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“By the time of his presidential run, Dole was certainly less than a movement conservative. He had become more of a legislative technician, and moderate to the younger Dole’s conservative. In later years he referred to himself as an Eisenhower Republican, putting great store in compromise and amity with Democrats, even when the other side didn’t reciprocate…

“But while conservatives may have been disappointed in some of the positions that Dole took in his late career, and disappointed in his lackluster 1996 campaign, there are still reasons to celebrate this man and his life. Man and boy, young conservative firebrand and older moderate, Dole was always a patriot, never a doubter of America’s greatness, and always a booster of its people and its values… RIP Bob Dole, a man who long served his country with courage and distinction.”
Larry Thornberry, American Spectator

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