Joco Opinion

Danedri Herbert: Our national conversation doesn’t need Sen. Bob Dole

Can we have an honest discussion about former Sen. Bob Dole? And by honest, I mean, can I just go ahead and say what everyone is thinking without being trolled on the Internet and thrown out of Kansas?

It’s time for conservatives to ignore Bob Dole. There, I said it.

Here’s why:

Most recently, the former GOP presidential candidate and Senate majority leader was seen on Fox News Channel’s “Your World,” explaining that Republican frontrunner Sen. Ted Cruz is an “extreme conservative,” and also a RINO, or Republican in name only. Those traits seem like complete contradictions to Kansans, but then I’ve lived in Kansas longer than Bob Dole.

While his official residence is listed as his childhood home in Russell, Kan., Dole has been in Washington, D.C., first as a congressman, then as a senator and finally as a presidential also-ran and retiree since 1960.

Dole complained, “No one likes him (Cruz) in the Senate,” which in my mind is all the more reason to choose Cruz as the next GOP presidential nominee.

Many Kansans worship at the altar of Dole. He refuses to go away, giving Sunflower State residents ample opportunity to kiss the ring. The former senator did a victory lap around Kansas in 2014.

I still haven’t figured out what he won, but Dole visited all 105 Kansas counties and was gracious enough to allow every Kansas politician the chance to have a picture taken with him and use it as their Facebook profile. So there’s that.

I do not understand the hero worship. While I appreciate that Dole belongs to the Greatest Generation and served admirably in World War II, let’s not pretend that’s the reason he’s honored in the four corners of the state. Dole didn’t fight World War II alone. Dole is celebrated because he managed to get elected about 1 billion times.

I don’t get praising politicians for winning elections. Nice job, I guess, but it’s not exactly jumping on a grenade to save a friend.

In fact, being a successful politician today requires getting your hands dirty, trading meals and favors with lobbyists and bringing home federal money. The U.S. is $19 trillion in debt, so I’m not sure why that’s a praiseworthy accomplishment.

Dole was one of the best at bringing home the bacon. Former congressman, speaker of the House and failed presidential candidate Newt Gingrich once went so far as to call Dole the “tax collector for the welfare state.” There’s no love lost between those two. During Gingrich’s ill-fated attempt at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, Dole penned a letter, saying no one liked Newt Gingrich.

Apparently, Dole’s idea of a conservative principle is being friends with everyone. Again, I note the U.S. is $19 trillion in debt. That’s more than $56,000 per person — not per household — per person. A family of four would need to pony up more than $224,000 to satisfy the beast that is the national debt. It’s a mess, and Sen. Bob Dole helped lead the charge to get us here. As a senator, he was one penning bad deals for more spending and raising taxes.

Though it seems diametrically opposite of being well-liked, today it seems Dole spends his free time advocating against conservative ideas. I guess his desire to be liked stops at the exact point where conservative principle begins. In addition to less-than-savory comments about Gingrich and Cruz, Dole also advocates for liberal positions on the issues of the day.

He advocated for health care reform, which closely resembled Obamacare in 2009. That was helpful because Obamacare has become a point of national pride.

Then in 2014, the frail, wheelchair-bound media sensation did a round of appearances in Washington in support of a United Nations treaty on disability rights. Wisely, Republicans shot down the disastrous treaty. This piece of work didn’t include a definition of the word “disabled,” while giving the state the right to determine the best interests of a disabled child.

Dole retired from the Senate in 1996 to run a failed campaign for president against Bill Clinton. Dole lost, and lost big, but somehow it seems there’s always a reporter standing nearby the former statesman asking Dole to stick a knife in the back of a conservative leader or ideal.

Dear Sen. Dole: We appreciate your service to this country, both as a member of the U.S Armed Forces and as a legislative leader. However, it’s time Kansas conservatives and Republicans stop hanging on your every word. It’s become quite apparent you have nothing useful to add to the conversation.

Danedri Herbert writes monthly. Reach her at On Twitter: @danedri