HURT/Bob Dole ‘a giver, not a taker’

HURT/Bob Dole ‘a giver, not a taker’


In the cavernous halls of Washington, every occasion is an opportunity for politicians to celebrate themselves. The funeral of the former Senate majority leader Bob Dole — a man whose life was defined by truly selfless sacrifice — was certainly no exception.

Politicians thronged the Capitol Rotunda and the National Cathedral to remember the life of Dole — at least to remember the life of Dole as it related to them. These people might be monstrous failures in everything they do, but at least they are consistent.

President Biden seized the opportunity of Dole’s death to tell the story of how he convinced Dole to support his own pet project: the failed federal passenger train service known as Amtrak. Dole devoted his life to serving others while Mr. Biden has devoted his to making you pay for his commute between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Mr. Biden finds this so funny he now tells it as a joke at funerals. And you are still paying for it.

Current Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also used Dole’s death as an opportunity to talk about himself, reminding everyone that the most dangerous place in all of Washington is the space between Mr. Schumer and a microphone — even the microphone at somebody else’s funeral.

All this self-celebration was particularly off-key considering the man these people were supposed to be remembering. 

In World War II, Dole literally sacrificed his body — and nearly his life — in the service of others. For the rest of his life, comedians spoofing Dole did so by holding a pen awkwardly in their right hand the same way Dole had to because of his shrapnel-mangled body.

The other thing comedians always lampooned Dole about was his constant reference to himself as “Bob Dole.” That was because he was a humble man and found it so uncomfortable to say “I” or talk about “me.”

So, it was such a blessing to finally get through all the bloviating self-regard from politicians at the National Cathedral on Friday to finally hear from someone who simply wanted to remember Dole. 

In doing so, Dole’s daughter, Robin, proved herself to truly be her father’s daughter.

She promised to be brief — “to help me make it through this,” she said. “And to make Dad smile, because a lot of us in this room know how much he appreciated brevity.”

Indeed, Robin stayed strong as she talked about how her father loved his family, loved his hometown of Russell, Kansas, and loved animals.

“Bob Dole was a giver, not a taker,” she said. His goal every single day was to help at least one person. And, yet, his eternal demeanor was that he had not done enough for those around him.

Talking about her father’s caregivers, Robin’s voice quavered. But — like her father standing to salute the casket of a fellow World War II veteran — she held strong.

The only moment she gave way to emotion — just briefly — was as she recalled the recent death of her dog, Cooper. 

Isn’t that always what gets us most? Oh, the mystery of death and the clarity of faith.

Robin quickly recovered to tell how it was her father who guided her through the grief — and then got her a new puppy!

Even in death, Dole continues to serve others.

One of the ways Dole most famously served his country was with his dry, vicious wit — something badly needed and sorely lacking in Washington.

Robin read from a letter her father wrote before he died in which he confessed that he was “a bit curious to learn if I am correct in thinking that Heaven will look a lot like Kansas.”

And, he wrote, “to see, like others who have gone before me, if I will still be able to vote in Chicago.”

God bless you, Bob Dole. Thank you for your service. And long may you vote from your eternal resting place.

Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at The Washington Times.

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