Connect Gujarat

Bob Dole, a military hero and long-serving US senator, has died at the age of 98

Bob Dole attempted to become the President of the United States three times

Bob Dole, a military hero and long-serving US senator, has died at the age of 98

Bob Dole, a sharp-tongued Kansas senator, a Republican presidential candidate, and then a symbol and celebrant of his vanishing generation of World War II veterans, has died. He was 98 years old at the time.

Elizabeth Dole, his wife, announced the news on Twitter on Sunday.

In February 2021, Dole revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Dole became one of the most powerful politicians and party leaders in the Senate during his 36-year tenure on Capitol Hill, combining a talent for compromise with a caustic wit, which he often turned on himself but didn't hesitate to turn on others as well.

He influenced tax policy, foreign policy, farm and nutrition programmes, and disabled rights, enshrining anti-discrimination safeguards in the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, education, and public services.

Accessible government offices and national parks, sidewalk ramps, and sign-language interpreters at official local events are just a few of the more apparent markers of his legacy and that of the fellow parliamentarians he rallied for that landmark civil rights legislation 30 years ago.

Dole devoted his final years to the cause of wounded soldiers, their slain colleagues at Arlington National Cemetery, and the commemoration of the World War II generation that was rapidly dwindling.

Thousands of retired veterans gathered on the National Mall in 2004 for "our final reunion," as Dole put it when addressing at the unveiling of the World War II Memorial there. He'd played a key role in its development.

"Our ranks have dwindled," he said then. "Yet if we gather in the twilight it is brightened by the knowledge that we have kept faith with our comrades."

Long after leaving Kansas, Dole made his life in Washington, D.C., first at the centre of power and then, after his retirement, in its shadow, living at the renowned Watergate complex. He joked that he brought his dog to work so he could chat to another Republican when he left politics and joined a legal practise filled by notable Democrats.

He ran for president three times and failed each time. The last time he ran for president was in 1996, when he secured the Republican nomination only to lose to President Bill Clinton. In 1980 and 1988, he ran for President of the Republican Party, and in 1976, he ran for Vice President on the losing ticket with President Gerald Ford.

Throughout it all, he wore the scars of combat. Dole was hit by a shell splinter while charging a German position in northern Italy in 1945, paralysing his arms and legs and crushing two vertebrae.

The young Army battalion leader was hospitalised for three years and never regained use of his right hand.

Dole always held a pen in his right hand and extended out with his left to avoid embarrassing individuals who tried to shake his right hand.

Dole, whether a Democrat or a Republican, has the potential to be cruel to his opponents. When Dole was beaten in the 1988 Republican primary in New Hampshire by George H.W. Bush, he snarled, "Stop lying about my record." Even if it pales in comparison to today's political attacks, it was stunning at the time.

When Bush died in December 2018, though, old rivalries faded away as Dole stood in front of Bush's casket in the Capitol Rotunda. With his chin quivering, an ailing and sorrowful Dole gently steadied himself and saluted his one-time opponent with his left hand as an aide hoisted him from his wheelchair.

Dole had notoriously and audaciously dubbed all of America's conflicts that century as "Democrat wars" in a vice presidential debate with Walter Mondale two decades before. Dole had just "richly earned his reputation as a hatchet man," Mondale countered.

Dole initially disputed stating what he had just said on such a big stage, then backed down and admitted he'd gone too far. He explained, "I was supposed to aim for the jugular and I did it on my own."

Despite his rough exterior, he was a staunch supporter of the Senate as an institution, commanding respect and even affection from many Democrats. President Joe Biden paid a visit to Dole at his home just days after he received a grave cancer prognosis. The two were good friends in the Senate, according to the White House.

In 1960, Dole was elected to Congress to represent a western Kansas House district. When Republican Senator Frank Carlson retired eight years later, he was elected to the Senate.

At President Richard Nixon's request, he antagonised his Senate colleagues with vehemently partisan and caustic remarks. Prior to Nixon's presidency collapsing in the Watergate scandal, Kansan was rewarded for his faithfulness with the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee in 1971.

During the 1980s and 1990s, he served in the Senate as a committee chairman, majority leader, and minority leader. He led the Republicans in the Senate for nearly 11 years, a record that was broken in 2018 by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. During this time, he developed a reputation as a savvy, pragmatic politician who worked tirelessly to reach solutions.

After the Republicans took control of the Senate, Dole became chairman of the Finance Committee, where he earned praise from deficit hawks and others for his handling of the 1982 tax bill, in which he persuaded Ronald Reagan's White House to agree to a $100 billion increase in revenue to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Conservative Republicans, on the other hand, were outraged that Dole advocated for increased taxes. Newt Gingrich, a Republican from Georgia, dubbed him "the welfare state's tax collector."

Dole became Senate leader in 1985 and served as majority or minority leader depending on which party was in power until 1996, when he resigned to focus on his presidential campaign.

That campaign, Dole's final, was dogged by issues from the start. In the spring, he ran out of money, and Democratic commercials painted the GOP candidate and the party's contentious House speaker, Newt Gingrich, with the same brush: Republicans seeking to repeal Medicare. Clinton triumphed by a wide margin.

He was also questioned about his age because he ran for president at the age of 73, years before Biden was elected just weeks before his 78th birthday in 2020.

Next Story
Share it