by Jon N. Hall 12/20/15
On Monday Nov. 23 in Lawrence, Kansas, a curious thing happened: the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics awarded its 2015 Dole Leadership Prize to none other than … former President Bill Clinton. At the Institute’s website, we read: “The Dole Leadership Prize is awarded annually to an individual or group whose public service leadership inspires others.”
On Nov. 24 in its wood pulp version, the Kansas City Star ran “Clinton praises bipartisanship” by Bryan Lowry, which was posted online the night before as “Bill Clinton praises Bob Dole, bipartisanship in speech at KU.” The link has a short video that might be of interest, and this might amuse:
Stephonn Alcorn, a junior studying finance who is involved in KU’s student government, said “for what we’re dealing with on campus and in the student Senate, his conversation couldn’t have been any more timely.”
Three of KU’s student leaders are facing impeachment related to complaints that they haven’t done enough to address racism on campus. Alcorn said Clinton’s message of cooperation over conflict is one the KU community needed to hear.
Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House in 1998 but was acquitted by the U.S. Senate. Every member of the Kansas delegation supported impeachment or conviction at the time, including then-Sen. Sam Brownback.
Both the print and online versions of Lowry’s article contain two bullets at the beginning. The first bullet in both versions is about the same: “Former president accepts Dole Leadership Prize at KU.” Curiously, the second bullet was changed. In the print version on Tuesday the second bullet read: “Commonalities outweigh our differences, he says.” But the night before in the online version the second bullet had been: “No mention of wife’s candidacy during speech.”
The change of the second bullet gets at why this award is inappropriate at this particular time: Bill’s wife is running for president. Mrs. Clinton recently said that the enemy she is most proud of is “probably Republicans” — so much for bipartisanship.
No sentient being would disagree that Bill Clinton was a far better president than the current occupant of the White House. But if Hillary were to win the presidency, she’d be dragging back into the White House the only president to have been impeached in 150 years; a president who perjured himself, lost his law license, lied to the American people, was “inappropriate” with various women, etc., etc. So the awarding of this prize to this recipient at this time seems very misguided.
The Star’s Thursday entertainment and events magazine, Preview, is where I first got wind of Clinton’s award. It prompted me to send a terse email on Nov. 21 to the Dole Institute to ask about the 92-year-old former senator: “Concerning this award the Institute is giving to Bill Clinton on Monday, did Senator Dole have any input on it?” I received a terse reply on Nov. 23 from William B. Lacy, Director of the institute: “Yes, he certainly did.”
So I took a look at the list of past recipients of the Dole Prize to see if maybe Newt Gingrich, who had worked with Clinton, had also been honored. Newt was skipped over but I did see several Democrat honorees.
It’s curious that just when Republicans have both houses of Congress, and more governorships and state legislatures than they’ve had in decades, that Democrats would be praising bipartisanship. The next thing we’ll be hearing is that bipartisanship, like dissent, is the “highest form of patriotism.”
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (831 views)