Kansas City Star. December 13, 2021.
Editorial: Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall has nothing in common with his ‘boyhood hero’ Bob Dole
In a Sunday morning appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall began by bowing to his “boyhood hero,” Bob Dole. But Marshall has not followed his hero’s example of bravery, service, self-awareness, humor, compromise or truth-telling.
“Bob Dole conceded the election in 1996,” host Chuck Todd said. “The last president has not. What could the former president learn from Bob Dole?”
“Well, listen,” Marshall answered. “I think that this is an issue of election integrity. We value the ballot and the ballot booth. We want election integrity. There’s a lot of controversy out there and I’m focused right now on making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. I think that’s the focus right now.”
The only reason there’s any controversy is that Republicans including Roger Marshall won’t say what Dole did in a July interview with USA Today: that Donald Trump “had Rudy Giuliani running all over the country, claiming fraud. He never had one bit of fraud in all those lawsuits he filed and statements he made.”
Marshall knew that perfectly well when he went to the Senate floor just hours after the Jan. 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol to join Missouri’s Josh Hawley and a handful of other GOP senators in siding with the insurrectionists and casting doubt on President Joe Biden’s rightful win.
Dole was a partisan Republican through and through — and one of the party’s only elder statesmen to embrace Trump during the 2016 campaign — yet he also understood the concept of country over party.
Marshall keeps thinking the time will come when he’ll no longer be asked about going along with a lie that tried to subvert our democracy, even after both a violent coup attempt and considerable pressure on officials to cheat.
In July, just months before he died, Bob Dole was frail and failing. But even at 98, he was strong enough to say what Marshall never has, which is that Joe Biden won the election.
“Do you believe that Joe Biden was elected fair and square?” Todd asked Marshall. “You know, Joe Biden was sworn into office,” the senator answered. “I called him Mr. President since the day he was sworn in.”
Marshall’s self-serving failure to say that there was no widespread election fraud encourages the future coup attempts we now have every reason to expect.
ALSO SPREAD COVID MISINFORMATION ON ‘MEET THE PRESS’
This isn’t just the usual Marshall silliness of not knowing whether he’s in Kansas or Missouri or thinking that Kansas City’s well-known and well-marked statue of Winston and Clementine Churchill was actually Ewing and Muriel Kauffman.
In his brief “Meet the Press” appearance, Marshall said several things that not only weren’t true, but were both false and dangerous.
He suggested that those who’ve had COVID-19 already might not need a vaccine booster, even though you can get COVID more than once, and the vaccine offers far more robust protection than “natural immunity” does.
What he said about trying to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat is a mirror image of reality: On the contrary, Marshall’s party is doing everything possible to make it harder to vote and easier to cheat.
Then there was this: “Do you believe you were elected fair and square in 2020?” Todd asked Marshall.
“You know, absolutely,” the senator said. “I think Kansas has some of the tightest election laws in the land. We went back and looked at that to make sure it was a safe and fair election.”
The 2020 election laws in Kansas closely resembled those in Pennsylvania, yet Marshall signed onto a brief in support of a Texas-led lawsuit seeking to overturn the presidential election by preventing Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin’s Electoral College votes from being counted.
Like those states, Kansas also had record rates of mail-in voting, which was the practice at the center of the lawsuit.
Naturally, no Republicans in Kansas took issue with their state’s results, since they favored Marshall and others in their own party.
When Marshall says, “We went back and looked at that to make sure it was a safe and fair election” in Kansas, that isn’t true, either: There was no challenge to the outcome and thus no second-guessing.
This isn’t a matter of semantics, or a truth from which we can “move on.” The big lie that Marshall still won’t repudiate remains a threat to our democracy, and one to which we’ll never acquiesce.
Lawrence Journal-World. December 11, 2021.
Editorial: Do the math on expanding the Douglas County Commission
A public meeting last week made it clear that a segment of Douglas County’s population would like to see the County Commission expanded from three members to five.
County commissioners should delay putting that idea on November’s ballot until a deeper discussion occurs. Part of that discussion should be an exploration of this piece of math: Five is not the most important number in this debate. Rather, 80 is.
Approximately 80% of Douglas County’s entire population resides in Lawrence. That’s important because the driving force behind the idea of expanding the commission is geographic diversity. The County Commission for the first time in a long, long time doesn’t have any member who lives outside of Lawrence.
That is a reason for concern for residents who live outside Lawrence. The issues in rural Douglas County are different and people who have lived them bring something to the table. Plus, let’s state the obvious: There is a perception that residents in Lawrence are quite a bit more liberal than many residents who live elsewhere in Douglas County. That perception might be a bit simplistic, but it is not off by much.
But the fact that 80% of all residents live in Lawrence, coupled with the state law that says county commission districts must be roughly equal in population, make it impossible to create a district system where the majority of districts will be dominated by rural residents. Nor should such a system exist.
The best a five-district system could do is create one district that would include Baldwin City, Eudora, Lecompton and all of the unincorporated part of Douglas County. That would ensure one non-Lawrence resident is on the commission. But it also would ensure that four Lawrence residents are always on the commission. That would be a terrible trade for non-Lawrence residents to make.
It would be far better to stick with the current three-district system, where one district is entirely in the city limits and two have a mix of Lawrence and non-Lawrence territory. That gives non-Lawrence residents an actual chance to have the majority of seats on the commission, if there are non-Lawrence candidates who have enough appeal to voters in Lawrence. There have been many such candidates in the history of the County Commission.
But before changing the number of seats on the commission, let’s have a discussion about the current state of politics in Douglas County. It is quickly becoming a one-party system, which makes the August Democratic primary the most important election in the county, rather than the November general election.
The August primary is far more likely to be dominated by liberal, activist members of the party. That probably has more to do with discontent in the hinterlands of the county than the number of commissioners. A better solution than expansion might be for moderates to become more active and organized in the local Democratic Party and for moderates to become far more active in the local Republican Party and do the hard work of making it competitive in Douglas County again.
However, there have been arguments the commission needs to be expanded because each district at nearly 40,000 people has become too large. Each County Commission district is about twice as large as a Kansas House district. But that shouldn’t be too concerning. County commissioners do have a highly skilled county administrator at their disposal, and she has multiple staff people at her disposal. The ratio of staff members to lawmakers is better at the county than at the Statehouse. Plus, it is worth noting that at $38,300 per year, Douglas County commissioners do make significantly more than most legislators, who bring in a little more than $20,000 most of the time.
Still, talk of a County Commission expansion deserves more discussion. But perhaps non-Lawrence residents should focus on an expansion to seven members. Consider this math: You create four districts entirely in Lawrence. That would leave three districts that roughly would each have 9,000 city of Lawrence voters and 8,000 non-city of Lawrence voters. That would give non-Lawrence residents a decent chance of controlling three of the four seats. More importantly, it might change the election dynamics to make the County Commission a more moderate body for the long term.
There are plenty of online programs that let you create different map scenarios. County officials should create multiple scenarios and share them with the public before deciding whether to put this on the ballot. The only problem with that plan is those mapping programs may be running slow these days due to demand.
After all, it is gerrymandering season in Congress.
Topeka Capital-Journal. December 10, 2021.
Editorial: Bob Dole was a man and public servant of integrity, and he was proud to be from Kansas.
Rest well, Sen. Robert J. Dole. Throughout your career in public life, you’ve represented Kansas in a favorable light.
So many people have ideas of what Kansas is and is not. But Bob Dole more often than not showed America what Kansas had to offer.
Dole passed away on Dec. 5 after a battle with stage 4 lung cancer. He was 98.
Dole wasn’t perfect, but he was a man of integrity. And he was proud to be from Kansas.
We’re proud of that legacy. We’re proud to have a native son turned war hero, turned congressman, turned senator, turned majority leader and later Republican presidential candidate, represent us. He showed the rest of the country there’s more to Kansas than crops. He was a powerbroker and a deal maker.
He showed us you could work with people you disagreed with and find common ground for the common good — something rare in today’s political landscape. But it’s common on the Main Streets of Kansas towns. Dole will be a shining example of bipartisanship in Kansas politics.
Through Dole’s work in D.C., which was more moderate than conservative, he helped make food stamps more accessible. Dole helped pass the Americans with Disabilities Act — cornerstone law that’s still relevant today. His work on the Senate Agriculture Committee made sure our state was a leading voice in American agriculture, as it should be.
We can’t say thank you enough for the work he put in.
We know this didn’t come without sacrifice. We know there were failures. Sen. Dole had eyes set on the presidency. It just didn’t pan out.
Bob Dole took ribbing in stride and offered a Kansan’s sense of humor and wit along the way. Plenty of people remember fondly his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and later appearances on “The Daily Show.”
After a contentious election in 2020, Dole was a voice of reason reminding us that Donald Trump lost the election despite claims of fraud.
Kansas lost one of its brightest political stars this month. But he leaves behind an example for us to emulate, reproduce and try to live up to.
That seems like the most Kansas thing a politician could do.
Thanks for all you have done, Sen. Dole. You did Kansas proud.
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