Bob Dole, who was a World War Two Veteran and went on to become a Republican senator and US presidential candidate at age 98, has passed away.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation released the following statement: “It’s with deepest sorrow that we inform you that Senator Robert Joseph Dole has died in his sleep early this morning.” He was 98 years old and had been serving the United States of America for 79 years.
Dole stated earlier this year that he had been receiving treatment for lung carcinoma.
He was the US Senate’s top Republican for a decade and ran unsuccessfully against Bill Clinton for the White House in 1996. This marked his political career.
Bob Dole had died in his attempt to become the president decades ago.
The young lieutenant of the 10th Mountain Division was ordered to attack a German post with a machine gun.
The battlefield was littered with the remains of three quarters of Dole’s squad. Dole lost his right arm and back when he tried to save a soldier who had fallen.
An army sergeant helped him get to safety after he fell unconscious. Dole gave Dole an enormous dose of morphine, and he painted an “M” on Dole’s forehead to prevent passing medics from giving Dole another lethal hit.
The man said to his commander, “I gave him one shot because he was gone.” He’ll at least have some comfort.
The miracle of Dole’s survival was remarkable. It was testament to his perseverance that he rebuilt his damaged body, and went on to become one the longest-serving Republican Party senators and presidential candidate. Many people believed that survival and determination were interconnected.
Robert Joseph Dole was born in July 1923. He grew up during the Great Depression in Kansas. This was 200 miles from the closest mid-sized town. Bobby was a young man who only traveled to Kansas one time, for a fishing trip in the Colorado mountains.
The parents of his salesmen father struggled financially, with their four children living in one room. However, he preached the virtues of hard work as well as religious devotion.
The “taught me trust God over government,” he said later, and “never confuse the two.”
No books were allowed in the home. Dole encouraged Dole to get outside as much as possible.
Bob was studying for college with his friends, while he worked as a server at an ice cream shop.
He studied medicine at the University of Kansas but didn’t see college as an opportunity to grow his mind. He was intellectually lazy and he party and went on to become a great athlete.
Dole was then enlisted into the Army, and that day changed his entire life.
For nine hours, he lay on the ground of an Italian warground near his death, suffering injuries such as a fractured shoulder. He had the iron hidden in his soul, which was luckily left unharmed.
He was given two Purple Hearts for his services and a Bronze Star, but it was the last battle that he would face. Three years of his recovery time were spent in Michigan, where he battled boredom and blood clots.
He was facing the possibility of losing his right arm and had to have multiple surgeries performed free of cost. Dole credits him for having an influence on his entire life that was second only to his loved ones.
Dole, who was now demoralized and without the freedom to enjoy the outdoors he had always loved, began reading. Dole was too weak to hold onto the book and used a projector beaming the pages to the ceiling.
Plato, George Washington, and his favorite, Abraham Lincoln were all devoured by him. He stated, “It was an attempt to preserve my sanity.”
He met Phyllis Holden an occupational therapist and invited her to an officer’s club dance. They were married three months later, despite her parents’ objections. He was in a “funk” and she shook him off.
To build his strength, they set up a rope-and pulley system. It remained there for over 50 years to remind him of how far he’d come.
The arm and right side of his hand were lost forever, and he was unable to use his arms or hands. He spent his entire life holding a pen to stop people from offering him a handshake. He made up for what he lost physically with his drive.
Incapable of writing notes, he was incapable to record law school lectures. He stayed up late transcribing the lecture left-handed and continued this practice until the early hours. While he couldn’t make much of his final exams notes, they were enough for him to pass.
Dole received advice from his friends and was encouraged to become a politician. Although Dole was moderate, he saw the logic in declaring himself a Republican if he wanted to be a political leader in Kansas.
He was elected to state legislative office in 1950 with help from Dolls for Dole campaign, which featured a group of female singers.
He made it to Washington a decade later as a representative for the rural Kansas area that only allowed alcohol.
He became obsessed with politics and was regarded as the moderate conservative in his area. Each summer, the family drove long distances home in their car full of pets and baggage. The heat caused the death of their dog one year.
Dole was elected to the Senate in 1968, the year Richard Nixon took office. His dedication to politics led to him divorcing his wife at the end his first term.
His sudden decision to abandon Phyllis was shocking for her. Dole only ate two meals with his daughter and wife during their final year of marriage. Dole was so obsessed by politics that he first consulted Nixon to determine the potential dangers to the Republican Party, before informing his daughter.
In 1972, he became the Republican national chairman. He also had a partner in Elizabeth Hanford who shares his enthusiasm for politics. Three years later, they were married.
Elizabeth Dole was later Ronald Reagan’s secretary to transportation. She eventually got a seat in Congress.
Dole was well-known for being blunt and became Gerald Ford’s vice presidential running mate. They lost. Dole blundering in debate against Walter Mondale during his campaign, describing America’s 20th Century conflict as “Democrat wars”. This was an expression that would haunt Dole.
As a politician, public speaking was his weak point. He was naturally taciturn, could not physically write speeches, and would often rehearse or review words that others had written.
His ability to negotiate, trade-offs, and create consensus was an asset. He excelled in both the Senate and the House. He was not the success factor needed to succeed at the front, in the bear pit of a national electoral election.
Jimmy Carter, Reagan, and then Bill Clinton all had the same touch and effortless delivery that Dole couldn’t muster. On the stump, they were fluent but he was staccato, with speeches riddled with random clichés.
He also didn’t have what Americans refer to as “vision”. He had a personal story that would make a great president, but when asked to what he wanted for the country he couldn’t answer, only vague fatuities or empty slogans.
He raged on television in 1988 after George HW Bush beat him at the New Hampshire primary.
Bush’s constant campaign advertisements and his insistence on posing for photos with the camera made him angry. He had photocalls of himself driving trucks or shoveling snow. Dole was aware that he couldn’t physically do it the same way and he snapped.
He took care of his grievances while he was in the Senate. He shifted his focus to a national election, but remained politically neutral. John McCain, another Republican, joined him in reaching across the aisle to support a variety of bipartisan initiatives, including one on disability rights.
The Senate colleagues remembered Dole’s ability to pay attention in meetings, although he couldn’t remember taking notes and his inexplicable personality. McCain was acquainted with Dole over a decade. Dole wore a memory bracelet that had McCain’s name on throughout his imprisonment in Vietnam.
Dole for President
He was 73 years old when he ran for the presidency in 1996. Bill Clinton, an impressive force that had the advantage of both incumbency as well as a growing economy, was his opponent. Dole met his match as a campaigner.
He left it open in accepting the nomination. Let me serve as the bridge between America and the myths that the unknowing would call it. He spoke. He said, “Let’s me be your bridge to tranquility and faith. Let us have confidence in our actions.”
Clinton responded by cutting to Clinton: The country needs a bridge to the present and not the past.
Dole couldn’t find his national cheerleader, could not stand spin doctors and had the cursed smile of an undertaker.
One bumper sticker from the Democrats read “A Dark Man For Dark Times.” This was the historic first presidential candidate who lost by a wide margin.
Dole retired from public office and continued to be active, becoming an anchor on Sunday talk shows about politics and an authoritative elder statesman of American politics.
His career was in law when he appeared on TV ads for Viagra and Dunkin’ Donuts. He also wrote a book about jokes made by US presidents. The book ranked them according to their sense of humor.
It was still valuable to have his endorsement for presidential campaigns. With less enthusiasm than his party’s new right, he backed moderate Republicans such as Marco Rubio or Mitt Romney.
He was promoted from colonel to captain by Congress in 2019 for his World War II service. The honour was accepted by him gracefully. However, he joked that “I was happy to be captain and it pays for the same.”
Dole was diagnosed with advanced lung carcinoma two years later. The newly elected president Joe Biden visited Dole at his home for the second time. It is a sign of the mutual respect Bob Dole received from both political sides.
Dole wrote his personal story in 2005. Dole recalled the moment on the Italian battlefield just three weeks prior to the German surrender.
He described how he thought that he would end up “selling pencils on the street corners” and how it brought back childhood memories.
He’ll be remembered for being one of the most prominent public servants in his country – an individual who displayed extraordinary courage and resilience in times of war.
Dole, his dear friend Richard Nixon, described Dole as “brave, unafraid, controversial, and living each day to the fullest.”
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