Sunday, December 05, 2021

Senator Bob Dole, R.I.P.

Senator Bob Dole served his country honorably in war and peace. Dole died today at age 98. 

May he rest in peace.

Bob Dole helped enact the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark civil rights law. His first Senate speech was on disability rights.

The 1996 Republican Presidential candidate, Bob Dole, and our liberal lion former St. Augustine Beach neighbor, the late South Dakota Democratic U.S. Senator George S. McGovern (our 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee) worked bipartisan magic when they worked on Food for Peace, WIC  and food stamp benefits.   

Senator McGovern was eloquent, full of praise and authentic when he spoke about his bipartisan work with Senator Dole here in St. Augustine, both in public and in private (at Passover Seder in St. Augustine Beach at home of Andrea and Robert Sazmuels, my first Seder and Senator McGovern's second seder.) 

There was a genuine affection between the two unsuccessful presidential candidates from 1972 and 1976, just as there was genuine respect between Senator McGovern and Barry Goldwater, unsuccessful 1964 Republican Presidential candidates. 

Before the Koch Brothers and Russian weaponized hate, American politics was different.

We were kinder and gentler.

President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neil respected each other, would share a drink and a laugh and a deal. Then they would resume normal partisan. activities, but they knew democracy works when we talk and work together,  

Once there was more civility, comity and cooperation between people of diverse views in Congress, and in public life.  In honor of Bob Dole, we need to restore public confidence in public servants, and disdain "public serpents" who are all hatred all the time, like so many arachnid apparatchiks and their online obnoxiousness now.

While Dole made mean-spirited remarks about "Democrat wars" while running for Vice President in 1976, Dole's service to humanity on food issues will always be remembered.  

And while Bob Dole once agreed to lend House Republican Leader Newt Gingrich $300,000 to pay an ethics fine, Dole wisely relented after withering criticism, including my April 21, 1998 letter, published in The New York Times, to wit:

Indentured to Tobacco

To the Editor:

Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's $300,000 penalty is being paid by a balloon loan from Bob Dole, with payment due in eight years. You report (front page, April 18) that the Washington corporate law firm where former Senator Dole has just become a partner represents the tobacco industry in liability settlement talks. It is also reported that whatever settlement might be worked out will likely require Congressional approval.

With the Republican Congress already well financed by tobacco companies, Mr. Gingrich is now literally indentured to one of the tobacco companies' lawyers, the former Republican Presidential candidate.


Deerfield Beach, Fla., April 18, 1997

A version of this article appears in print on April 21, 1997, Section A, Page 14 of the National edition with the headline: Indentured to Tobacco


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