Nancy Kassebaum bows out Too bad: She has 'Ripkenesque" attributes often lacking in politics.

November 22, 1995

KANSAS SEN. NANCY Kassebaum's decision to retire is regrettable. For 17 years she has been an outstanding senator -- and gentlewoman, in an age when politics has become harsher and harsher, more and more combative. She has shown Americans that it doesn't have to be that way.

Too bad more senators have not understood that this pays off. In her two re-election campaigns, running on her record, this Kansas Republican received 76 percent and 83 percent of the vote.

Senator Kassebaum is respected for her senatorialness. She has made up her mind on issues and votes without subjecting herself to a partisan or ideological strait-jacket.

Unlike some Democratic senators who have decided to retire, she did not do so because she had lost power (Sen. Sam Nunn). She is now chair of the Labor and Human Resources Committee and of the Foreign Relations Committee's African Affairs Subcommittee. Nor is she retiring because she faced a tough re-election campaign (Sen. Bill Bradley). Kansas pundits say she could easily beat all comers. She's more popular in Kansas than Bob Dole.

She is one of the dwindling band of moderate Republicans in the Senate, and as such she will be missed. But if she were as conservative as Jesse Helms or as liberal as Teddy Kennedy, she would still be missed for her character. It was noted in these columns recently that she could set a record for service by women senators if she chose to run again, and she was compared to another record setter. This prompted a thank-you note in which she said, ". . . like everyone else I watched Cal Ripken with joy and pride. One could wish for that same special commitment to quality and integrity in the political arena. However, politics and baseball are two very separate sports. . . ."

They wouldn't be if more politicians displayed half Nancy Kassebaum's commitment to quality and integrity."

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