It has been reported that Jack Kemp has cancer.
His office released the following statement:
“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 conservative principles with a coherent philosophy, and who advances broad conservative 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.
REPEAL THE CONGRESSIONAL PAY HIKE
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