A friend of mine said, tongue in cheek, that one good thing about my having surgery is that I will have something to write about. This may have been a subtle hint that I should not write about politics since he and I have very different views. He will be disappointed, since I must mention about the death of former U.S. Senator and majority leader Robert Dole on December 5, which also happens to be the same English date as my father’s death. His death is a reminder of how far this country has fallen.
For those under forty and/or not familiar with him, Senator Dole was the Second World War version of Senator John McCain. They were both injured as soldiers. Both had failed attempts at becoming president. They were strong-willed Republicans who on occasion were willing to work with Democrats to pass legislation. Also, when they were in Congress, there was a collegiality, especially in the Senate. The Senate used to be referred to as the old boys’ club. It was not merely because few women were there, but because of the comradery between the senators. It is no surprise that at Senator Dole’s funeral both Republican and Democratic colleagues spoke.
Senator Dole was not the greatest speaker. When he was running with Gerald Ford for vice president, some people would call them Ford and Dull. He also liked to refer to himself in the third person. But he was from the generation that saved the world. He lived through the depression, served and was wounded in the military, and did not let his injury stop him. He went into government service and accomplished a lot. He was an institutionalist who understood the importance of the institutions of government and that country takes precedence over party. He was in Congress from 1969 to 1996, the last eleven years as the Republican leader in the Senate, three as majority leader.
When Bob Dole was Republican leader, no one would have contemplated punishing Republicans who voted with Democrats on any bill, especially one as popular as the infrastructure bill. No one would have threatened the life of a colleague or engage in the other over the top personal attacks. Congress has now become a toxic working environment with the crazies on both sides slowly sucking the life out the institution, with the inciter-in-chief egging on the Republican zealots from Mar-a-Lago. No wonder members are leaving in droves and Americans’ faith in Congress is so low. We need individuals like Bob Dole to step up.
Also, on December 8, Brian Williams, who had been at NBC since 1993 and from 2016 as the host of the “11th Hour” on MSBNC, retired. We are around the same age. There is speculation as to why he decided to retire. It could be a wakeup call from COVID. Many people his age left the workforce due to COVID’s effect on the economy and decided they did not want to come back. My theory is that he saw the handwriting on the wall. MSNBC has decided that it wants to be the left-wing version of FOX, having hosts that are purely ideological loudmouths who make themselves the center of their show. Brian Williams was old school. The host’s job was to ask the questions and let the guests do the talking. As Williams repeatedly said, it was about the guests. He also had a dry sense of humor and seemed genuinely humble and well-liked. Although the show was serious, there was one notable exception. On January 29, he told viewers that he had what he was told is exclusive footage of the meeting between minority leader Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago and asked his guests to comment on it on the other side. They then played a clip from the movie Jerry McGuire of a sappy scene where Renee Zellweger tells Tom Cruise “You had me at hello.” Then Williams got back on and said we were sold a bill of goods, and someone is going to be in big trouble. Williams did not crack a smile, although he must have been in on the gag.
Finally, I will make a few comments about my surgery. It is premature to have a full discussion since I am in the middle of the recovery period. I had bi-lateral hernia surgery on December 6, the last day of Chanukah. I did not pick the day; it was the day selected by the surgeon. The date is significant, since my father, who had the same condition but never had surgery, died on Chanukah, and December 6 was the day I was waiting for his body to be shipped back to New York. I saw what he went through and decided I was going to go for the operation. His suffering was not in vain since it helped me to make the choice to have surgery.
There is no such thing as minor surgery. If they have to give you general anesthesia and put in a breathing tube and cut into the body, it is not minor. Like many things in life, you cannot appreciate it until you are in that position. I was fortunate that I was able to last so long with not having non-dental surgery. I can also have a greater understanding of those who are in severe pain and get hooked taking oxycodone. I have been fortunate since leaving the hospital post-surgery to be able to rely on Tylenol twice a day, without opioids, but I can understand that if the pain does not subside why someone would want medication, no matter how strong, to stop the pain. It is frustrating not being able to engage in normal activities for a few weeks. However, hopefully, the operation worked, which would make the entire process worth it. I cannot wait to get back to normal.