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    Success of ‘going negative’ changes campaign strategies
    [ # ] Former Sen. Bob Dole continues to build his legacy as a leader and statesman
    March 7th, 2007 under Senator Dole

    dole_bob.jpg Lawrence Journal World - Editorials

    Wednesday, March 7, 2007

    Two items in the news Tuesday remind us that, long after his retirement from elective office, former Sen. Bob Dole continues to be an outstanding representative of Kansas and Kansas values.

    One story was about President Bush’s selection of Dole and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala to lead the federal investigation into problems at the nation’s military and veterans hospitals. The effort is in response to recent revelations about deplorable living conditions for out-patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Stories about Walter Reed unleashed a flood of complaints at other veterans facilities and prompted the broader investigation.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone more qualified to lead this effort than Dole, who was seriously wounded in World War II and spent years receiving treatment in veterans facilities. Even more important than the empathy Dole can bring to this task, however, is his no-nonsense approach to problem-solving. Dole is unlikely to be receptive to excuses for substandard treatment of wounded or aging veterans. In Dole, Americans have someone who knows how to cut through the bureaucracy and red tape to help make sure veterans get the respect and treatment they deserve.

    The other news item focused on Dole the statesman, rather than Dole the soldier. The Kansan is one of four former senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — who have founded the new Bipartisan Policy Center that will seek to put politics aside and suggest solutions for some of the nation’s biggest problems. Dole is joined by Democrats George Mitchell of Maine and Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Republican Howard Baker of Tennessee, who is married to another former senator from Kansas, Nancy Kassebaum Baker.

    The goal of the new group is to come up with common sense recommendations on some of the biggest challenges the nation faces. All four men have served in Senate leadership roles and understand the pressures of the job, but they also hark back to a time when lawmakers were more likely to reach across political lines to help address important issues. As Dole said, the new group wants to remind the country that “compromise is not a bad word.” It would be wonderful if the Bipartisan Policy Center could be an ongoing vehicle for the kind of input provided by such groups as the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, whose report on Iraq continues to influence U.S. policy in the Mideast. The mission of the center is, in fact, not unlike the guiding principle of the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University, which Dole envisioned as a way to encourage political discussion and engagement across party lines. As a senate leader and a presidential candidate, Dole, with his dry wit, often was characterized as “mean.” Since his retirement, however, more people are seeing the Dole that Kansans knew, an intelligent and principled man who takes his mission seriously but also is willing to laugh at himself.

    It’s great to see Dole have new opportunities to employ his no-nonsense approach to some areas in which the nation sorely needs his help. He continues to make Kansas proud.

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    The Dole Institute of Politics is a bipartisan facility. Our mission; to encourage political and civic involvement, especially among young people; to encourage civil discussion on important issues; to emphasize that politics is an honorable profession; and to provide opportunities for all to interact with political leaders, practitioners and writers.
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    In December of 2006 Dr. Dhavan Shah of the University of Wisconsin and his “Blogclub” of graduate students and Dr. David D. Perlmutterof the University of Kansas conducted a survey of major political blogs and their readers. The project was partially sponsored by a grant from the Knight/Carnegie Foundation’s Future of Journalism initiative. The summary of the results are posted here--please fully cite us if you refer to the findings.

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