"I want to show politics can be a profession of civility and courtesy."
That's a comment from Bill Lacy, the new director of the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University. Considering the less-than-commendable behavior and tactics we too often see in the field anymore, that is indeed a noble goal that should, and can, be pursued with great intensity here.
Lacy, 50, has been around the field of government and inspiration long enough to realize full well what "ought to be." The Dole Institute was designed by its namesake to encourage good people to get into and stay involved in worthwhile political ventures. The fact the new director views his assignment in that vein is terribly noteworthy and commendable.
Of Lacy, Scott Morgan, one-time local school board member and a former chief counsel to Dole, said: "My experience was, in a world that has a remarkable amount of cutthroat folks, he stood out as extraordinarily smart and very kind -- which is not a word you tend to hear around politics much."
Contrary to the old athletic slogan, nice people CAN finish first.
Lacy is old enough and experienced enough to set his own course in operating the Dole Institute. A more humane, civil, courteous and academic approach to politics is well within reach through the guidance of entities like the Dole Institute.
Already the institute has been blessed with appearances by such personalities as Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Bill Clinton, Tom Brokaw, Rudy Giulani and Condoleezza Rice. Among the other outstanding speakers who have appeared here through guidance of former Dole director Richard Norton Smith have been David Gergen, Robert Caro and David McCullough and Michael Beschloss. The presidential lecture series has been outstanding. It drew capacity audiences, and, with adequate fiscal support there is every reason to believe the Dole Institute can continue to spotlight such scholarship, excellence and ability to the benefit of the community and the nation.
This from Dole, the noted Kansan who rates as one of the finest public servants in American history both as a military man and politician. Says Dole:
"Bill is the right person at the right time to lead the Dole Institute of Politics and make it the premier forum for public discourse it was intended to be. He has extensive experience in the real-world side of politics. He will bring that knowledge and his ability to make it real to the advantage of the students at KU, the state of Kansas and the rest of the country."
That is a tall order which will take on even greater significance if it is met, as planned, with civility and courtesy. Our nation and the world currently are in terribly short supply of both. Let's hope the Dole Institute helps boost such efforts, beginning right now.