I had the opportunity and pleasure to spend about an hour with former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole on Friday. I shy away from commenting on personal matters but I want to say, it was just plain grand to see my former “boss”.
Bob Dole had an enormous impact on my professional life, how I view politics and the craft of a real legislator. I am grateful for the opportunity he gave me long time ago. I have enormous respect for him for his service to the country, his genuine care and work for veterans and interests on diverse subjects like nutrition.
He will celebrate his 90th birthday this year. While he does not get around as well as he used to, his wit, perception and insight are abundant. His story is well known. As he used to say, “born in Kansas, raised in Kansas, went to war, suffered a head wound and went into politics.” I still laugh.
The politicians of today are different from the "old guard", like Senator Dole. The polarization and just plain nastiness in the Halls of Congress and in the White House is a disservice to all of us. This acrimoney is not exclusive to one particular party. Senator Dole was indeed political and he was partisan. However, he knew problems had to be addressed and solved. Sometimes he won, sometimes not and sometimes it was just rained out. It was not always about trying to make the other guy look bad or score some political points.
There are times when principles cannot be compromised, when you know the direction the other side is taking is wrong and misguided. I respect when a person actually stands for something. However, there are also times for working together, compromise, civility and different approaches. Bob Dole understood that and it is a lesson worth remembering.