Archive for Monday, February 28, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Walt Riker tells his story about meeting the pope; some conservatives actually do graduate from KU; reader suggests good spot for ink refills

February 28, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• Here’s a bonus Walt Riker story, that got no more than seven words in the story I wrote this weekend. Riker is serving as one of the Dole Institute's Dole Fellows this semester.

I talked about how the KU alum and former TV reporter, Dole press secretary and McDonald’s spokesman has made a career of telling stories. And he’s pretty good at it.

I’ll make an effort to replicate one here.

As Riker told me, he and a contingent of folks traveling with Bob Dole were headed to meet Pope John Paul II. What struck me about the story was how overwhelming an experience meeting the pope seemed to be — not just for Riker or Dole, but for the whole crowd. It was much more so, Riker said, than even meeting people like former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, or former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“It was one of the few times in my life I ever saw Bob Dole nervous,” he said.

The group was guided in through a different passage than most Vatican tourists, and eventually led to the pope’s throne room. (Yes, the pope has a throne room.)

But the pope wasn’t there.

Riker, a man who was involved in creating messages and delivering them every day, recalled being struck by not just how moving meeting the pope was, but also the staging of the pope.

The room was dark, and the white, marble throne was lit by a high-intensity spotlight, he recalled.

One person had to leave the room, there was so much anxiety, he said.

When the pope came in, he sat on the throne, higher than everything else. They discussed communism and other matters of the day. Afterward, the pope stood up and mingled with everyone in the room — like a skillful politician, Riker remembered. Riker had purchased a rosary, and asked the pope to bless it for his mother-in-law, a devout Catholic. He obliged.

As the pope was leaving, he stopped for a moment and turned around.

“He said, ‘God Bless America,’” Riker said. “You talk about a moment. It was a moment none of us will ever forget.”

• Here’s one from a loyal Heard on the Hill tipster — KU alum and Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn from Colorado finished in a first-place tie for the most conservative House member, according to the National Journal.

If one were to believe certain state legislators, no conservatives ever come out of KU, my tipster told me. I can’t imagine who he might be thinking of

Lamborn received both his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from KU, according to his online biography.

• I got a few good recommendations in the comment section of Heard on the Hill concerning ink cartridge refills.

I figured I’d pass one along from an e-mailer, who suggested I check out, of all places, Cartridge World off 25th and Iowa. They guarantee their refills or your money back, the e-mailer said. So take all that for what it’s worth.

• I’ll be out all day today on vacation, so no Heard on the Hill tomorrow. No need to stop sending tips, though. Keep them coming at


situveux1 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm conservative. I graduated from KU. I recall no legislator saying NO conservatives graduated from KU. I do recall one legislator saying KU was not well repected outside of Lawrence in the rest of the state because of their liberal slant. Now that I can agree with.

KU_cynic 7 years, 1 month ago

There are many conservative students, faculty, and staff at KU, but proportionately fewer than the state as a whole.

Regarding the students, recall Winston Churchill's observation that "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

Regarding many of the liberal faculty, see above.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

And to make it bit more complete, if you've become what's now considered "conservative," you've lost your heart.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

In today's political environment, I would amend Churchill's statement to:

"If at 20 you do not see the world's problems and want them changed immediately, you have no heart. If at 40 you do not see that the world's problems cannot be solved overnight, you have no brain."

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 1 month ago

Winston Churchill had a very different idea of what liberal and conservative meant.

These terms today are only slightly related to their terms in early and mid-20th century America and Europe.

Churchill will be considered a big government liberal today.

Today's conservatives are actually more like populists. They are liberal in that they want change quickly and under any and all circumstances.

I have before proposed a new political spectrum that includes moral ideals (right-wing versus left-wing) and political mechanism (liberal versus conservative).

The Tea Party populists (Palin, Boehner, et al.) are right-wing liberals. George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and John McCain are right wing conservatives (called RINOs now). Barack Obama, Joe Leiberman, Harry Reid and John Kerry are left-wing conservatives. Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and maybe Nancy Pelosi are left-wing liberals.

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