Memories of Bob Dole's Memory

by Bernard McCormick Saturday, December 11, 2021 2 Comment(s)

It was the summer of 1996 and Senator Bob Dole was running for president. Some thought he was not a strong candidate, despite his well-known war record and years of experience in Washington, because he was not a show horse and not as known to the public as some other senior senators. I was inclined to make him the second Republican I voted for for president (there was also one independent). His opponent was incumbent President Bill Clinton, who always rubbed me the wrong way. I had chuckled in approval when, following the 1996 election, ABC's David Brinkley said that Clinton "has not a creative bone in his body."

And so it came to pass that candidate Dole came to Fort Lauderdale for a reception sponsored by the Republican Party. It was at a beach hotel, and Mark McCormick, somewhat active in the party at the time, was invited, and he brought along his dad. We arrived a bit early and were surprised to find Senator Dole almost alone. What was immediately apparent was his handicap from his WWII wound in Italy. He quickly extended his left hand to shake, while his right hung uselessly by his side.

He must have asked Mark what he did, and Mark said he was just finishing six years in the Navy. Dole asked about his service, and they chatted for several minutes about Mark having been navigator of a fast frigate, and then teaching at the Navy Surface War School in Newport, R.I. The room was filling quickly, and as others approached him, Dole continued to show interest in Mark's background. Soon he turned to the work of the night and there followed two hours of greeting strangers and listening to speeches. By the end of the night he must have met hundreds, maybe a thousand people, most of whom were strangers.

We did not plan it that way, but as we headed for the door we chanced to see Dole again. This time he was surrounded by people, but to our amazement, he noticed Mark and made another comment about his Navy time. I have met a lot of politicians over the years, and even though some of them are good at names, we doubt many of them meeting so many people at a reception would remember someone five minutes later, much less resume a conversation from several hours before. Needless to say, he got our votes.

It wasn't enough, but as was apparent in the memorial service for him Thursday, Bob Dole has gone down as an all-round patriot, an admired war veteran, a legislator known for his integrity who got along and was respected by people on both sides of the aisle, and a man who put service above self.

One could not help but contrast this dominant Republican from what seems a distant era with the dominant Republican today — the latter a draft dodger who doesn't begin to know the meaning of integrity, who seems more at home with our nation's enemies than his own people, and who places himself above all others, living and dead. And despite his glaring abuses, continues to enjoy the support of many members of his own Republican party who are as dishonest as he, or too gutless to disown him.

Photo Credit: President's Commission on Care for American's Returning Wounded Warriors (PCCWW), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Dole vs. current Republicans

This Comment had been Posted by Ron Burnstine

Mr. McCormick, I enjoyed your blog about Senator Dole and the nice story about the Dole fundraiser and Mark. Where we part ways is your indictment and mischaracterization of today's "dominant" Republican. Clearly, you (and 80 million others) have no love for President Trump. But to yearn for the good 'ole days of Republicans from the 70's, 80's and 90's makes me chuckle. I would argue that the vast majority of today's Republican party members and politicians have changed very little AND if Republicans moved in any direction politically, they have inched slowly to the left over the last 50 years. To the contrary, during the last decade (and moreover in the last 5 years), it is progressive Democrats who have continued to push the party bar so far to the left that it is coming back around on the other side of the Republicans. Let me make this point in a different way. If Harry Truman, JFK and LBJ were alive today, their politics would align more closely with the Republican party than with their own Democratic party of today. Even Bill Clinton's politics of the 1990's more closely align with today's Republicans than today's Dems. We all long for the days when Tip O'Neil would head to the White House and toss a few evening drinks back with Reagan. There were on opposite sides politically, but they still kept perspective. The reason that so many Americans supported and continue to support Trump is that he wasn't a career politician (a part of the "Swamp") and he did what he said he would do which is uncommon for most politicians. Many Trump supporters don't necessarily embrace Trumps at-times abrasive demeanor just like many New England Patriots and Alabama Crimson Tide fans don't agree care for Bill Belichick and Nick Saban who can both be autocratic A-holes. Those teams' fans accept the coaches because they get results. Furthermore, Trumps accomplishments while in office came to fruition while his arms were tied behind his back (one held by Democrat politicians who would have sold their own children to the Philistines to sink his presidency and the other held by a complicit, agenda-driven media). You may not care for Trump, but you shouldn't parlay your dislike for the 45th President into a blanket incrimination of today's Republicans. That tact is exactly how the left help Trump get elected in the first place. Now, I have another question that I would love to address with you about my uncle, Ken Burnstine. Yes, that Ken Burnstine. But, I'd rather take that offline so if there is anyway you can reach out to me at your convenience, I'd be most appreciative. My email is I look forward to communicating with you. RB

Following up on yesterday's comment

This Comment had been Posted by Ron Burnstine

Hey Bernie, I commented on your Bob Dole blog post yesterday but I have gotten nothing to make me believe that my comment was even received. The blog post still reflects (0) Comments. Just following up to see if this goes through.

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