Sen. Bob Dole’s passing serves as reminder of bygone era: The Note

Dole was a decorated WWII veteran and a public servant for most of his life.

December 6, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

When a significant historical figure passes away, it's tempting to fit him or her into the current moment -- and to sand away harder edges to celebrate a life of importance.

Neither of those impulses would be an appropriate way to remember former Sen. Bob Dole, who died Sunday at the age of 98. A week of remembrances will make clear just how lasting a figure he was, and yet how far he and his career sit removed from the politics of 2021.

Dole was a soldier, a senator, a majority leader and a minority leader, a failed candidate for both vice president and president, and finally, a semi-retired pol with a sense of both duty and humor. His advocacy through it all was in favor of action -- something of a foreign concept in the zero-sum battles that currently tie Washington in knots.

It's not that Dole wasn't a fierce partisan. He did not cling to long-gone notions of what the Senate or his Republican Party was or should be, and he found a home inside the GOP from former presidents Richard Nixon to Donald Trump and everywhere in between.

Dole's passing brought warm words from a wide, bipartisan range of figures, including President Joe Biden, Trump and the man who beat Dole out for the presidency in 1996, former President Bill Clinton.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said she is "confident" Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take "decisive action" this week against Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., for Islamophobic comments that surfaced online, but reprimand in this bitterly divided Congress has its limits.

"As you know, when I first got to Congress, I was worried that I wasn't going to be allowed to be sworn in because there was a ban on the hijab," Omar said Sunday on CNN. "She promised me she would take care of it. She fulfilled that promise. She's made another promise to me she will take care of this, and I believe her."

Rep. Ilhan Omar plays a voicemail containing a death threat during a news conference about Islamophobia on Capitol Hill, Nov. 30, 2021.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended Boebert Friday when asked why he has a hard time condemning comments that falsely and pejoratively suggested Omar was a terrorist. McCarthy cited Boebert's apology to the Minnesota Democrat but refused to directly denounce the comments.

It remains to be seen if censure from Democrats without a demand for accountability from Republicans will be much more than a badge of honor for Boebert, an opportunity to bolster her profile in conservative circles.

This all comes in the wake of Rep. Paul Gosar's, R-Ariz., recent censure for sharing a violent animated video on Twitter depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and brandishing swords at Biden. After his censure, Gosar doubled down on his post, saying he "won't be bullied even if they challenge me and try to take away my America First agenda."

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Democrats' success in the 2022 midterms could hinge on the party's ability to rally voters to mobilize against conservatives' support for the undoing of Roe v. Wade, but amid growing tensions over the ruling, that goal remains complicated.

Pro-choice activists protests outside of the U.S. Supreme Court as the high court prepares to hear arguments in a challenge to a law in Mississippi that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2021.
Samuel Corum/EPA via Shutterstock

In an NBC interview on Sunday, Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Congress could tackle abortion rights "through the political process."

"I don't think that's the right thing to do, but it may be the way to do it. And I think the best way to do it is not a patchwork of state laws, but to codify Roe v. Wade, put it into law, and we even have some pro-choice Republicans that have signaled interest in doing that," she added. Meanwhile, her colleague across the aisle, GOP Sen. Mike Braun, indicated he didn't believe abortion legislation could pass in the Senate and that the issue should remain in the purview of the states.

The example of likely gridlock over federal abortion legislation appears to be at odds with the perspectives of a majority of voters. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, a majority of Americans say the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade and oppose states making it harder for abortion clinics to operate and see abortion primarily as a decision to be made by a woman and her doctor, not lawmakers.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning's episode begins with the parents of the Michigan school shooting suspect charged with involuntary manslaughter. ABC News' Trevor Ault reports on the investigation from Oxford, Michigan. Then, the U.S. intelligence community is warning of a Russian military offensive in Ukraine and ABC News White House Correspondent MaryAlice Parks tells us how President Biden is responding. And, ABC's Luke Barr breaks down the controversial reinstatement of the "remain in Mexico" immigration policy.


  • At 2 p.m., in the East Room, President Joe Biden lays out the benefits of his prescription drug pricing plan that's included in the Build Back Better Act, which has been passed by the House and now waits in the Senate.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing at 1 p.m.
  • At 3 p.m., the Senate convenes to consider of the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby holds a briefing at 2:30 p.m.
  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken will host a meeting with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai at 9:30 a.m. at the State Department.
  • The Supreme Court hears oral arguments.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and CIA Director William Burns speak at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit.
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