Friday, November 05, 2004

Calling Bob Dole

"Britney (Spears) got $10 million bucks for the commercial. I got a lifetime supply of Pepsi."

Mrs. Shaker and I just returned from an evening at the San Jose, CA Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner, at which Bob Dole was the featured speaker.

Working the crowd like a seasoned nightclub comic, Dole offered up quips and self-deprecation to keep the well-attended crowd in stitches, but laced his talk with serious and inspirational observations that demonstrated the caliber of this man.

He said that he keeps getting invitations to these events because the audience expects him to come with free samples of his endorsed products (think little blue pills).

As a set up to his speech, a three-minute video was played that detailed his childhood in rural Kansas. What was notable for me was the fact that the video ended just as WWII began, never mentioning his war heroism or his long career in the U.S. Senate. One wonders how much more effective John Kerry would have been had he chosen to run as a silent, and humble, war veteran.

Dole recounted his recent trip to Libya where he met with Moammar Ghadafi. Ghadafi said that in preparation for their discussion he had read Dole's condemnations in the Congressional Record, and that he wanted Dole to know that he was committed to taking his country in a new direction that wouldn't warrant such criticism. Dole's anecdote reinforced the power and example that the U.S. wields on the world stage, and that our current course in the War on Terror is indeed yielding the right dividends - the dismantling of Libya's WMDs being prima facie evidence.

He spoke sincerely about the government's need to focus on ideas and problem solving vs. partisanship and polarization, using the bipartisan effort to reform Social Security in the 80s as a model of the spirit of American resolve. Tom Daschle could have heeded Dole's words.

Dole singled out the Mainstream Media as an institution that was in dire need of self-reflection, eliciting applause from this bipartisan California audience.

And he spoke of the WWII Memorial, and how a recent immigrant who was not a WWII veteran was the largest single contributor to the effort, writing a check for $1 million dollars. This Armenian immigrant wanted to give thanks to the U.S. for freeing Europe, and fighting for liberty and democracy around the globe.

Dole is an optimistic man, imbued with those heartland values that we are now being told are odd, intolerant, and somehow regressive. Yet it was obvious to all who attended that our government could use more men like Bob Dole to help smooth the partisan divide and coalesce our political rivalries around the big issues that confront us.

Calling Bob Dole.