America's Presidential election takes place next month, and the polls consistently give Bill Clinton an edge of 20 points or more over Bob Dole. I am not one of the people who deeply distrusts and dislikes Bill Clinton, and there is no question that unemployment is low at 5.2%, the annual budget deficit is dropping, the stock market is at an all-time high, the nation is not at war, and most people are better off than they were four years ago. His administration has been effective and lucky, and it takes both, in running the country. Voters are content and not eager to make a change.

Nevertheless, I can't help but feel Dole is getting the short end of the stick.

It seems to me that among the countless ironies I have seen in my lifetime, Bob Dole is experiencing the worst. I wonder how it must feel to be yanked into a global war at 19, win a commission in the Army, be sent overseas, get your ass shot off by an artillery round at 20, suffer severe chest injuries and lose the use of one arm, nearly die, be sent back home, spend three years recovering, get a law degree without being able to take notes and doing it from memory, undertake a successful career in politics, spend 35 years in the Senate, and then watch comparatively inept, less experienced men from your party like Ronald Reagan and George Bush be elected President. Finally, at the age of 73, win the presidential nomination only to be overwhelmed by a man who has been humorously described as a philandering, pot smoking draft dodger. That would hurt. The only thing that could make it worse would be to find out women universally fear and refuse to vote for you. Try and laugh at that!

Perhaps a few words should be added to the sardonic paragraphs I have written. What I have seen of Dole shows me he is no morose, bitter loner. He developed in a time when it was common for a man to believe deeply enough to sacrifice life and limb for democracy, an intangible political persuasion. Several hundred thousand young American men did just that during WWII, and they are buried all over the globe. We do not, as a civilization, understand that belief today. Bob Dole does. Bill Clinton is a sensitive, intelligent, caring man, but he does not understand it, either.

As we near the end of the twentieth century, myriad serious economic, social, racial and ethnic, educational, and religious problems face America. We have the resources and intelligence to solve most of them, but to the extent morals and ethics are important, only those who have genuinely solid values can serve as role models. I will not say Bill Clinton lacks character, but he and his generation grew up in a time when expediency became more practical than conviction. Lying took the form of a social grace, and a man's word is almost worthless today.

I hope I am not wrong, but it seems to me Bob Dole is a plain talking Kansan who learned the art of political compromise in Washington, but never lost his convictions or his values. I've watched him for twenty years, and my opinion has never wavered. His values have been too deeply ingrained by what happened in the war and his subsequent convalescence to change. Dole's recovery occurred not only from his own efforts, but because of the care and assistance he received from many people. His detractors, who say he lacks compassion, have not listened to Dole himself speak of the town doctor who performed seven operations on him free of charge. People who go through experiences like that never lack compassion. Having been down themselves, they understand what it means to be down and to get up.

Millions of people in this country need to take heart from his example.


Sam Orr

World Traveler

and Philanthrope

(Location Unknown)