Dole well deserves recent accolades

Kansan’s life dedicated to public service

By The Mercury

Bob Dole isn’t quite as mobile as he once was, but he still gets around pretty well, particularly for a 90-year-old who was badly wounded during World War II.

What matters is that he’s been getting around Kansas quite well, visiting large cities and small towns and simply touching base with some of the people he represented for decades.

He visited recently, and with a little luck, he’ll be back soon. He plans to visit all 105 counties in the state he loves and one that loves him back. As he said on a visit to the Kansas City area last week, “When you’re 90, you don’t order room service or green bananas.”

He’s done a little bit of everything in a life that’s been dedicated both to military and civilian service to his country. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1948 and was badly wounded in Italy. He represented his hometown of Russell in the Kansas Legislature from 1951 to 1953 before serving eight years as Russell County attorney. He returned to national service in 1960, getting elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996, when he stepped down to run for president.

It was in the Senate that he made his greatest mark, serving both as majority and minority leader. In those positions, he demonstrated the sort of leadership that Congress badly needs today.  Among his greatest achievements was working with Democrats as well as other Republicans in the early 1980s to extend the solvency of Social Security. Also, perhaps in part because of his war wounds, he has long been a champion of rights for the disabled and helped push through the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Although many of today’s conservatives in Congress regard Mr. Dole as a moderate, he’s more accurately described as a conservative who didn’t regard moderates or liberals as his enemies. Indeed, unlike many of today’s politicians — including some of our congressional delegation as well as many legislators — he realized that his job was to represent and serve his constituents, not his political allies.

He didn’t shrink from partisan combat, but neither did he turn down many opportunities to compromise when his fellow citizens stood to benefit. Instead, he found a way to overcome political obstacles just as he has always found a way to overcome his physical limitations.

In the process he has become respected nationwide and beloved in Kansas. We look forward to his visit to our part of the state so area residents can get reacquainted with this amazing individual.

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