While gamboling through the internet today looking for something new to say about Donald J Trump (something printable), I stumbled on a live feed of a Capitol Hill ceremony at which former Senator Robert J Dole was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’s highest civilian award.
Dole served in Congress from 1961 to 1996, when he resigned to run for President.
At age 94, shrunken and unable to walk, Dole sat in a wheelchair as the Republican and Democratic leadership of both Houses of Congress spoke affectionately about his life of service to the nation.
His friends talked about his integrity and honesty, said his word was always good, said he took the “long view” working across the aisle on behalf of Veterans, Americans with Disabilities and other Americans who were less well off.
They said Dole was always a man of high principles and values, whose World War II service during which he was severely wounded put him on the road to national leadership.
I got to know him as a reporter first when he served in the House, then when he served in the Senate winding up as the Majority Leader of the Senate. And after he left public life, I got to know him on a more personal basis.
As I listened to the speakers praise him for his admirable qualities, I couldn’t help but compare Dole to another man who sat on the podium waiting to give the last speech of the day, the man with the “golden” hair, a man who possesses none, not one of the admirable qualities attributed to Dole.
In 1995, as he was gearing up to run for President, we of the ABC Magazine program Prime Time Live aired a lengthy report about Dole, centering on his World War II service and his life living with the handicap he suffered when wounded in that war.
We took him back to the very spot in Northern Italy where he was hit by a German rifle grenade and we showed how he was able with the help of the people of his hometown to regain enough strength to enter public life.
Here is the link to that report: https://vimeo.com/216174602
Dole failed to win the Presidency in 1996, but if he had the Country would have been in good hands; if you watch our report you will see some of the reasons why I can say that.
Oh, yes, as to the last speaker today. He read from a script written for him, only occasionally glancing up from the page. The words were okay but the delivery by necessity, impersonal.
He didn’t know Bob Dole. Too bad.
If he had he might be a better person.