Today is the 99th birthday of President Ronald Reagan.
Back in 1980, Ronald Reagan took a nation that was held hostage by Islamic extremists, an economy racked with double digit inflation and double digit unemployment, and brought it back from the brink of collapse. With misery indexes, inflation, stagflation, a shrinking economy, a tattered military and the “days of malaise” brought about by a liberal President and liberal controlled Congress, Ronald Reagan took the reigns of power and in a few short years, turned it all around.
The Reagan presidency lifted our will and spirit, he brought about a rebirth in the entrepreneurial spirit, grew the economy, rebuilt our military, stood up to our enemies, and looked the Russians in the eye and made them blink. His stewardship of our nation spurred on the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the lifting of the communist cloud that hung over Eastern Europe and won the Cold War.
At home he stood up against overregulation and unions that held us hostage to their demands. He made us confident and made being an American something to boast about again.
Today as we try to spend our way out of a depressed economy, create unsustainable employment opportunities, grow the size of government by inventing new positions for unaccountable and unelected Czars and try to have the federal government control every aspect of our lives, we are experiencing a return to the days of malaise.
While Jimmy Obama or Barack Carter does all that Ronald Reagan had to once save us from, today, on Reagan’s 99th birthday, we can’t help but ask ourselves who will save us from repeating history and from reinventing the misery index? Who will stop the hemorrhaging of trillions of dollars into unsustainable government programs and government jobs? Today we ask ourselves, who will be the next right person to come along at the right time and restore our nation to that shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan so gloriously spoke about?
Though not perfect, Ronald Reagan was that person in the 80’s, but who will it be in the second decade of the 21st century.?
Ronald Reagan was one of a kind and so one should not try to remodel themselves or morph themselves into Ronald Reagan. He was right for his time. But we are in new times. We confront new challenges and to deal with them we must have contemporary leaders who face our contemporary problems. So although we should not try to seek out a second Reagan, the next generation of American leaders will still benefit greatly by heeding some of the lessons that Reagan taught us and applying them to today‘s problems .
He made us understand that we can never back down from challenges and that we can’t just go along to get a long. He made hundreds of millions realize that you can’t make the poor rich by making the rich poor and he taught us that our nation’s strength lies not in its government but in its people.
If the next generation of American leaders holds true to those lessons, one of them will emerge as the right person at the right time to lead us and bring us back from the Barack Carter brink that we are teetering on.
Today, Jack Kemp will be laid to rest after private funeral services at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C..
To mark this event, I have put together the following memorial tribute.
Jack Kemp was more than a politician. He was a man who helped shape lives.
From his children to activists like me, Jack Kemp inspired a generation or more of American enthusiasts like myself. It was not just his policies or legislative agenda which provided us with that inspiration, it was his ability to turn issues into goals and dreams into reality. It was his inherent optimism and boundless belief in human potential that inspired millions to the American Republican cause.
Jack Kemp inspired me to believe that it is not our government that makes us great but our people that make our nation great.
In his plight for economic empowerment, human dignity and the defense of freedom, Jack Kemp’s words and deeds gave the Republican Party a heart and for many his philosophy became the heart of the Republican Party.
That is why I am Kempite. That is why I am and will always be a bleeding-heart, Jack Kemp, conservative.
There remain only a few hours left in the presidency of George W. Bush. For eight years he has given us his best. There were some low points but there were fewer than the media and liberals would have you believe.
Katrina was a low point but even that, President Bush really can’t take all the blame for himself . But for liberals, President Bush was there scapegoat.
Hurricane Katrina ravaged Mississippi every bit as much as it did Louisiana, yet Mississippi, under the leadership of Republican Governor Haley Barbour, did not encounter the same long duration of recovery or mishandled evacuations that Louisiana did.
Mississippi’s local leaders did not decide to park their buses on low lying surfaces as did New Orleans’ Democrat Mayor, Ray Nagin.
No, Mississippi’s first line of defense in natural disasters, their local governments, the governments closest to the people, came through and were every bit as prepared as they told the federal government that they were. Not so in New Orleans though.
But a liberal bias from the media helped to make Hurricane Katrina President Bush’s fault.
Shortly after the events of Hurricane Katrina many left leaning conspiracy theorists also claimed that Hurricane Katrina and a few of its devastating predecessors were the product of Japan where the Japanese government was inventing a new weapon that increased the intensity of tropical storms into category 5 hurricanes and directed them to land masses that they targeted.
Many of the same people who made this claim gave blame to George Bush. That should tell you something.
Although Katrina may not have been Bush’s fault, the recovery effort in Louisiana does get blamed on him and to a degree that is acceptable. But I guess, on the other side of the coin, the successfully rapid recovery in Mississippi warrants some credit for President Bush?
Putting aside the blame game of Hurricane Katrina, there are two things that when grading this presidency, bring his average down.
The first is his delay in approving the surge that his own Secretary of State urged for a year before he finally accepted it.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been advocating for more troops in Iraq. It was a strategy called “clear, hold and build”. It was also the same strategy that Senator John McCain called for.
Clear, hold and build was successfully used by Col. H.R. McMaster in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar. The strategy called for door to door operations that cleared insurgents from the city along with an ongoing troop presence in each neighborhood that was cleared. Once this was achieved residents felt secure, and U.S. troops were able to begin rebuilding there. Wherever this strategy was conducted, it worked. The resurgents were gone and our continued presence there, prevented them from returning. As a result, citizens no longer lived in fear and life began to flow unimpeded by terror and violence. To carry out clear, hold and build, more troops were required. But increasing the number of troops was not something the administration wanted to advocate for. Although it was required in order to successfully carry out clear, hold, build the administration was afraid of the reaction to such a call.
The President flinched in this area. It was one of the few instances where he allowed public perception to make him second guess his policy judgment. After Viet Nam, we should have learned that if you are going to enter into a fight, throw everything you have into it from the onset. Otherwise don’t get into the fight.
In the case of Iraq, we held back. Had we went along with the surge from the beginning, we would have avoided the upsurge in violence that led to the waning of support for the war effort.
The other area of deep negative impact on this administration was the financial collapse that brought on the current economic crisis.
President Bush does not get blamed for causing the collapse, but it happened under his watch and it should not have.
The President, through his advisers, should have seen this coming and helped to avoid it.
He should have aggressively turned back some of the policies which led to the overextended loan practices which ultimately tied up loans and the markets.
Many of the policies that brought us to this point were from Bill Clinton’s administration.
Clinton‘s National Homeowners Strategy was a financial scheme that promoted insanely low down payments and coerced lenders into giving mortgage loans to first-time buyers with unstable financing and incomes.
It was a way to increase home ownership. That is an admirable motive but as usual, the liberal mentality, forced government to do that which it should not have done. Essentially, the Clinton era initiatives that forced government action on private sector interests led to the need for government to take over FannieMae and FreddieMac. This is not to say that private sector greed and bad business practices did not add to the wrong minded government policy, it did, but what happened here is that government solutions to one problem, created another . Now, ironically, the government which helped to create this problem is having to solve it
As for George Bush, this all came to a head under his watch. For that he must be blamed.
So we have the recovery effort in Louisiana, delaying the surge in Iraq and not avoiding the economic crises that we are in, all helping to lower the average of this administrations grade.
I have two more things to add though.
One is immigration.
On immigration President Bush was most inept. On this issue his positions were no where near appropriate for the leader of a sovereign nation.
The Presidents refusal to accept that illegal immigrants are participating in illegal conduct that needs to be prosecuted was a horribly blundered policy and it is one that has not helped to solve our border security problem or alleviate the continued problem of illegal immigration.
The other issue I hold against President Bush is his administrations inability to articulate their cause in a way that appealed to the people convincingly.
The administration had been doing quite well in it’s first two years when the voice of the President came from then White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Once Ari Fleischer left and Scott McClellan entered the picture, the White House lost any sway with the press or the public.
This President was great with messages when we were in crisis and he had the people’s attention, but in between crisis his message was jumbled and unconvincing. That, for this administration, was half of the battle and after Fleischer left they lost it.
On the upside President Bush has many, much wrongly maligned, initiatives to help bring his grade up.
Their was his “Faith Based Initiative” which allowed government to accept the involvement of religious institutions in helping out. Faith based initiatives were no longer penalized or denied by the federal government because of religion. It was something long over due in America, especially in an America where religion is not to persecuted against.
There was “No Child Left Behind”.
This policy was one which had universal support except for some extremist fringe players and teachers union.. But not willing to give credit where credit was due, liberals charged that President Bush backed out of his No Child Left Behind policy by under funding it.
Truth be told, federal education spending is at record levels so that argument doesn’t swim.
There are many other policies such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit, enacted in 2003. It triggered competition between drug companies and wound up costing less than expected.
The Bush tax policy is also to his credit. He didn’t ask for lips to read on this issue, he simply created no new taxes and when he did not reduce them he held the line on them. I only wish he could have added drastic spending cuts to that.
Another high point in this administration was the appointment of two supreme court justices, one being the chief justice.
The appointments of John Roberts and Sam Alito were remarkably good choices. Neither had any judicial or personal blemishes and neither see the role of the judiciary to be one that makes law but rather interprets it. Add to that their relative youthful ages and the Roberts and Alito appointments to the bench will have a profound on our great nation for decades to come.
The next greatest achievement of the administration was twofold. It involves The War On Terror and Iraq.
Despite charges that Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism, the two are entwined together as violent threats.
Pre-Saddam Hussein Iraq did not send to us the pilots that took nearly 3,000 Americans in one day but it had intentions just as dire.
Saddam did not have any tangible links to 9/11 but he did have links to terrorist, including several who dabbled with Al Quaeda and he did continuously break and defy the cease fire agreement that he signed after the first Gulf War. Combine that with the fact that everyone from Bill Clinton and Al Gore to John Kerry and Ted Kennedy swore that Saddam was a threat and you had every reason in the world to eliminate Saddam Hussein.
After 9/11 George W. Bush realized that we must eliminate threats before they eliminate us and so he took out the threat known as Saddam Hussein. In doing so not is democracy being brought to the Middle East but the power and richness of freedom is being delivered to a people that have long since forgotten what independence offers.
Add to that that you can say what you want, but we no longer have to worry about any threat Saddam intended, and for that I thank the President.
I also Thank him for the second part of this War On Terror effort. Under his watch not another single attack occurred on mainland territory since 9/11.
Now if you want to blame Katrina on Bush because it happened during his watch you must also credit him for there being no more attacks under his watch. And when you think about, more attacks occurred under Bill Clinton then George Bush, so I thank President Bush for that as well.
The final most valuable thing brought to life under President Bush goes back to exactly four years ago.
In his inaugural address , after being sworn in for the second time, President Bush stated:
“America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home – the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.”
He went on to articulate a policy that directed the United States to end tyranny in the world as we know it.
Now some may have seen that as a declaration of war by him but most read it the right way.
He went on to say………“We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.”
“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.:”
The speech has since been forgotten by most but it has not been forgotten by me and hopefully President Barack Obama will also remember it..
In its entirety, the address presented the essence of what it means to be an American and it captured the most important role that America must play in this world as its current, last remaining superpower.
For me it Bush’s second inaugural address was the foundation for our greatest doctrine ever, the doctrine to achieve and true freedom and peace.
When you have the time, click here and read the speech. You will be moved and you will understand our place in this world.
The bottom line…….
President Bush is a good man and was a good President. He will not go down in history ranked along side of Washington or Lincoln nor will he be lumped together with Franklin Pierce or Jimmy Carter.
Ultimately, I believe George W. Bush warrants a B-.
Many on the left will now assault me for giving that grade but I base George Bush’s presidency on the truth of reality not on the lies and distortions that they have spent the last eight years perpetuating and when you add that to the retrospect of history, I believe George W. Bush’s name will slowly rise to its proper placement among American presidents.
That is something that will take time.
As President Bush recently put it, “they’re still debating and writing about how good or bad George Washington was, so I assume the same will happen to me”.
Once upon a time, in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers…
… that he would buy monkeys for $10 each.
The villagers seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest, and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10 and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort.
He further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.
Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms.
The offer increased to $25 each and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on behalf of him.
In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers. ‘Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each.’
The villagers rounded up with all their savings and bought all the monkeys.
Then they never saw the man nor his assistant, only monkeys everywhere!
Now you have a better understanding of how the stock market works.
“Mr. Kemp has been undergoing tests to determine the origin of the disease and the options for continued treatment. He will continue to serve as Chairman of Kemp Partners and plans to remain involved in his business, charitable and politically related activities. Mr. Kemp and his family are grateful for the thoughts and prayers of friends and appreciate respect for their privacy at this time”.
The disturbing news hits POLITICS 24/7 hard. For me Jack Kemp, has been a shining example of the type of leadership we expect, want and need in government and the news causes reason for me to pause.
As a young man Jack F. Kemp spent 13 years in professional football, playing quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills. He led the Buffalo Bills to the American Football League championships in 1964 and 1965 when he was named the league’s most valuable player. He also co-founded the AFL Players Association and was elected it’s president for 5 consecutive terms.
After a period working for the Reagan gubernatorial campaign in California during 1966 and as special assistant to Reagan when he was Governor, Kemp in 1969 worked for the chairman of the National Republican Committee. In 1970 Kemp was elected to Congress where he represented the people of Buffalo, New York in the state’s 38th district and served their until 1989.
Barely in my teens, my political interests were inspired by Ronald Reagan. They grew each day for the eight years that he was President but during the mid 80’s I also came to appreciate a Congressman from my home state of New York. My own Congressman was Scmuck Schumer and not exactly a heroic political leader. But Jack Kemp was and although Kemp was from Buffalo and I was from Brooklyn, the distance did not takeaway any sense of the Congressman’s impact on me.
Many casual voters outside of Buffalo may not have heard of him at the time but those involved in the issues shaping America sure did. Especially those who considered themselves “movement conservatives“. They considered Jack Kemp a leading figure.
A movement conservative is one who supports all or nearly all conservativeprinciples with a coherent philosophy, and who advances broadconservative goals both individually and through teamwork. At the time, I did not know it, but I was one and Jack Kemp was one of the movements leaders.
Kemp’s credentials increased in In Congress where he became increasingly interested in economic ideas and was a keen supporter of supply-side economics and especially of large cuts in direct taxes, which he argued, would pay for themselves. Kemp was also a strong and vocal advocate of deregulation and enterprise zones. In 1978, together with senator Roth of Delaware, Kemp sponsored a 30 percent across the board tax cut which was in large part enacted in the 1981 Reagan budget. It is said that he sold Reaganomics to Reagan. Kemp’s vigorous promotion of supply-side economics made him a well known, if not controversial, politician and earned him a popular following among the Republican rank and file.
In addition to being a fiscal conservative Kemp has also been conservative on cultural and foreign affair issues. In one debate with Mario Cuomo, Kemp said of himself, “I am not a hawk but actually a heavily armed dove“.
Over time, I came to appreciate Jack Kemp more and more. I followed his voting record and read the speeches he offered on the floor of the house in the congressional record. His words were always inspiring to me. Although those speeches were often intermingled with words that I needed to lookup in the dictionary, once I did, they made sense and they were supported by all that freedom in a free nation meant.
On top of that, his voting record always matched his rhetoric. Jack Kemp meant what he said and said what he meant. With jack Kemp it was not rhetoric, it was reality.
Later, while working on Kemp’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, I learned that I was not alone in sometimes having to look up the meaning of something Kemp said. While gathering the mornings news clippings for the campaign’s press secretary, I stumbled upon a piece in a local paper that wrote “although very passionate about economic policy, Congressman Kemp often finds himself speaking to an audience of reporters and voters alike, who have a glazed look in their eyes that is brought about by his discussion of intricate policies and use of technical terms that Kemp uses with the familiarity that we have with the alphabet“.
After reading that I was actually relieved to know that I wasn’t quite as ignorant as most. I was just as ignorant as everyone else. As the Reagan years were winding down I geared up to take the Reagan revolution to the next level and I prepared to make sure that Jack Kemp became our next President. The man to carry the torch into the future. I even developed a report which proved that Jack kemp would be the Republican presidential nominee and that Jean Kirkpatrick would be tapped as his running mate.
I was also a fan of Ambassador Kirkpatrick and the relatively close ties that she and Kemp had at the time, seemed to me, to make them a perfect and likely ticket.
As the 1988 campaign began, I found myself traveling to campaign for Jack Kemp in New Hampshire and eventually became a low level field director. I will never forget sitting on campaign busses traveling to every Notch from Dixville to Zealand and relaying between the state’s North White Mountains and Great North Woods to its southern sectionss of Portsmouth and Seabrook in the Seacoast region and Nashua, Concord and Manchester in between. I was often honored beyond belief to sit next Jack Kemp on the campaign bus and have the opportunity to brief the would-be-President on events at our next stops and update him on how the door-to-door events at previous stops went.
Although Kemp did win in Dixville Notch, when all of New Hampshire’s votes were counted, Kemp came in third behind then Vice President George H.W. Bush and Kansas Senator Bob Dole, but ahead of evangelist Pat Robertson, Reagan’s former chief of Staff, General Alexander Haig and Delaware’s former Congressman and Governor Pete DuPont, respectively.
Suffice it to say, I was devastated.
In 1989 President George H. W. Bush appointed Kemp to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development when he formed his administration. In this role Kemp was perceived by many as a maverick rather than a collegial member of the administration. Yet he successfully implemented many policies and programs which won over friends and foes alike. One of Kemp’s most effective creations was the introduction of urban enterprise zones.
With his maverick image in place, in 1996 the Republican nominee for President, Bob Dole picked Kemp to be his Vice Presidential running mate. The selection was something of a surprise, not least because Kemp and Dole had policy disagreements in the past and had been rivals in 1988. Dole had generally been skeptical of massive tax cuts preferring to emphasize deficit reduction but the electoral dynamics of 1996 converted Dole to the merits of tax cuts. In this context Kemp was an ideal vice presidential choice. He symbolized vigorous tax cuts and was able to generate enthusiasm among Republican activists. Kemp was well known nationally because of his football career and visionary economic and defense policies; and it was hoped that Kemp’s energetic style and manner would balance Dole’s age.
Maybe it did or maybe didn’t but either way Americans wanted a second term of Clinton and Gore and whether they ended up liking it or not, they got it.
Just as was the case in the 1988 primaries, I was disappointed but just like before, I remained a fan of Jack Kemp.
I feel that there are few people who have actually been involved in politics on par with Kemp. Sincere, principled, hard working, innovative, persistent, consistent and scandal free, Kemp and his leadership has influenced our nation much more than your average politician and he helped take what was once a fringe wing of American political thinking and turned it into mainstream policy.
All of his leadership and accomplishments led me to pick up the moniker ‘Kempite”. On the internet, one must often come up with a user I.D. and since all of my online activity involves politics, I felt there was no name better to choose from other than Kemp’s.
So today, from the bottom of my heart, I offer my wishes for a speedy recovery for Secretary Kemp and it is the greatest hope of all of us that he defeats this bout with cancer with the same level of energy and success that earned him his victories and honors in the N.F.L. and that moved America over to his way of thinking in politics.
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