Comments at the Dole Institute dedication
I was lucky enough to attend the dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, Kansas, last week. I've always admired Dole for his courage after being wounded in battle, for his humor and for his willingness to do the right thing, even if it wasn't the "right wing" thing -- hell, if not for Gingrich and others trying to force him to the right in 1996, the old boy might have beaten Clinton.
Not only did I get to see Bob Dole, but I also got to hear Jimmy Carter, George McGovern and Condi Rice speak. When Carter spoke, there was a huge round of applause in one particular part of his speech that I thought I would share with you here.
And now we are at a time of assessing some of the changes taking place in our country. None of them would ever have contemplated so called "pre-emptive war" unless there was a very clear, proven and direct threat to the security of our nation. In fact, when Thomas Jefferson left office, he said that the greatest achievement in his term of office was the fact that the United States of America had not engaged in military action against any enemy because we had resolved our problems and met our challenges through peaceful means. (Huge applause here. - Nitpicker)
More people have been concerned lately about the so-called Patriot Act, designed with very good intentions to deal with the threat of terrorism in our own country. I'll just say this is a potential threat to civil liberties, reminding us of McCarthyism in the early '50s.
Ours is the greatest nation. And I don't think there is any doubt that the principles that describe a great nation are justice, truth, peace, freedom, democracy, civil and human rights, protection of the quality of the environment and alleviation of the suffering of others.
Tom Brokaw has identified my generation, because of my age, as the "Greatest Generation." I'm not sure. We did fight in an enormous war combat when our country was directly attacked, but maybe the greatest generation has been the ones who have preserved peace and have demonstrated the other attributes of a nation, in addition to its military prowess. History will ultimately judge.
I watched Rice through my camera lens as Carter said this. She looked like someone had dipped here entire face in Botox. (It should be remembered that, on the same day, Stephen Hadley was taking a political bullet for her.)
Even Bob Dole seemed to be thinking of Bush (and Rick Santorum and Tom Delay) when he talked about why he shared the stage with Carter and McGovern:
By his presence here this morning, President Carter honors us all. He reminds us how honorable a profession public service can be. I'll never forget something my friend George McGovern said. It was 10 years ago, and we had just come from Pat Nixon's funeral in California. Reporters were curious about George's presence. In response to their questions, he expressed his admiration for Mrs. Nixon. When the reporters persisted, thinking that he must still hold a grudge against the man he opposed for the presidency in 1972, George said one of the classiest things I've ever heard. He told them, "You can't keep campaigning forever."
That's the kind of politics I hope we can encourage here -- where conviction co-exists with civility, and the clash of ideas is never confused with a holy war.