Kansans have plenty of cause to be proud of Bob Dole, the Republican stalwart who made his mark as an extraordinary public servant.
The Russell native spent most of his life in government service of some kind. Faced with significant adversity, he still became a difference-maker as a state and federal legislator, which earned him the respect and admiration of many Kansans and other Americans.
Dole has been honored in numerous ways for his career accomplishments and recently collected yet another tribute from friends in Kansas.
During its annual meeting recently in Topeka, the Kansas Bar Association singled out Dole as recipient of its Courageous Attorney Award — an honor given to a lawyer who has displayed exceptional courage in the face of adversity.
Dole’s legal career included time early on as Russell County attorney. He now serves as special counsel for a law firm in Washington, D.C.
Still, he’s best known for his accomplishments as a lawmaker.
Dole entered politics after a long recovery from wounds suffered in World War II. Lingering scars and physical challenges didn’t slow his impressive career.
He served in the Kansas Legislature and both chambers of Congress, and was elected Senate majority leader in 1984. Going on to be the GOP nominee for president in 1996, Dole lost to incumbent Democrat Bill Clinton. Fittingly, and in proving his reputation as a true statesman, Dole later served alongside Clinton as co-chairman of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund to raise over $120 million for educational needs of 9-11 victims’ families.
It was nothing new for Dole, who was accustomed to working with Democrats to achieve progress. He knew to reach across the aisle to get things done, which resulted in important deals on Social Security and the Americans with Disabilities Act, among others.
In the face of adversity — whether related to his time in war or fierce negotiations over policymaking that came later — Dole never wavered from that belief. He knew bipartisan solutions were not only possible but should be the goal for policymakers of every political persuasion.
With a seat in the U.S. Senate soon to be vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts, every Kansan interested — and any other political hopeful — should reflect on Dole’s accomplishments and take stock in the fine example he set throughout his career.