Former Kansas U.S. Sen. Bob Dole certainly needs no introduction to the vagaries of politics or the whims of today’s elected officials. And presumably he wouldn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him in the aftermath of what no doubt was a personally disappointing vote in which the Senate rejected a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled.
Dole, himself a disabled World War II Army veteran, was on the Senate floor, in a wheelchair, to support adoption of the treaty, which is modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thirty-eight members of Dole’s Republican Party, including both Kansas senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, were among those who defeated adoption of the treaty. Only eight Republicans voted for it, although it was supported by veterans organizations and the disabilities community.
A number of reasons were given for not favoring the treaty. “I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society,” offered up Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe. Others cited conceding America’s sovereignty to international control, or possibly overriding state laws dealing with the disabled children, and even a fear the treaty would interfere with home-schooling children.
Much of the emotional reaction to the vote, however, has been focused on the perceived slap at Bob Dole. Dole, once referred to as “the abominable no-man” by a Kansas editor upset with his voting record when Dole was in the House of Representatives, knows the rough-and-tumble of politics. The quick-witted, genuinely humorous Russell native who was his party’s presidential nominee in 1996 also has demonstrated he knows how to work for what’s best for the American people, and how to get along with leaders in both parties. In Lawrence, we take particular pride in having the Dole Institute of Politics at Kansas University. The former senator is regarded fondly and favorably by most Americans, and especially, it’s fair to say, fellow Kansans. They admire his service to our country and his growth as a statesman.
Let’s hope others now in the Senate but not yet capable of filling his shoes experience that growth as well.