Jack Kemp died May 2 at his home in Maryland at age 73. The 9-term Republican New York congressman, 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee and self-professed “bleeding heart conservative” was one of the most famous Republicans never to be elected president. He sought the White House in 1988 and failed.
The former professional quarterback led the Buffalo Bills to the 1964 and 1965 AFL championships, and later co-founded the AFL players’ union and was elected its president for 5 terms. He played 13 seasons in the NFL. His fame in Buffalo led to his election to Congress in 1970.
Highly regarded even among his football friends as a great thinker, the handsome, raspy-voiced Kemp in the late 1970s became a fervent advocate of tax-cutting supply-side economics and is credited with convincing Ronald Reagan to embrace them. While Kemp talked about 30% tax reductions, Reagan convinced Congress to lower the top rate steeply from 70% to 28%, setting off the economic boom that still is rebounding around the United States – despite the current recession – while Japan and European nations have suffered through decades of high-tax, low-growth recession.
“Pro football gave me a good perspective” about politics, Kemp once said. “When I entered the political arena, I had already been booed, cheered, cut, sold, traded, and hung in effigy.”
Kemp was a classic conservative in opposing abortion and supporting school prayer, and was known for his outreach to minorities and the poor. Some say that his close relationships to his black teammates in his football career made him sympathetic to the black plight. In his tenure as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under George HW Bush, he advocated programs to combat urban blight and fought for low-tax “enterprise zones” in inner cities to combat poverty. In other words, free-market solutions to economic deprivation.
Joining former Department of Education secretary Bill Bennett and former UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Kemp in 1993 founded Empower America, a public policy organization that promoted free-market economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship.
Earlier in the week in which Kemp passed away, Republican US senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania switched his party affiliation to Democrat at a time when the GOP is in dire straits in its representation numbers in the US Senate. And the contrast between Kemp and Specter could not be starker and shows why the GOP cannot trust its liberal wing after John McCain’s cowardly performance in the 2008 election. And between Kemp and Specter, it is easy to see who was the genuine article and who should be the role model for the future of the Republican party.
Kemp remained loyal to his Republican roots while Specter often voted with Democrats. And Specter switched parties for only one reason – because he knew that he was going to lose the 2010 Republican primary to conservative Pennsylvania challenger Pat Toomey who previously challenged Specter in the primary in 2004. Despite the fact that Bush and the Republican party supported Specter over Toomey in 2004, Specter still jumped ship.
So which of these men represents the real Republican party?
Specter could have been seen as an opportunist throughout his career. One could have foreseen this behavior when, early on, he defended one of Philadelphia’s most notorious murderers, the outspoken ‘hippie’ guru Ira Einhorn, who murdered his girlfriend Holly Maddux in 1977. Specter defended Einhorn because Einhorn was a left-wing radical environmentalist who had many friends among the moneyed far-left Philadelphia elite, people whom Specter wanted to befriend for a political career which took off with his election to the US Senate in 1980.
Here is how wikipedia.org describes the events following Maddux’s murder:
When questioned, Einhorn told police that Maddux had left to go to the store but never came back. Eighteen months later, Maddux’s decomposing corpse was found by police in a trunk stored in a closet in Einhorn’s apartment. Upon being confronted by police with this discovery, Einhorn reportedly replied “you found what you found”. Einhorn’s bail was reduced to $40,000 at the request of his attorney Arlen Specter. Einhorn was released from custody in advance of his trial by paying 10% of the bond’s value, or $4,000.
Einhorn fled and spent 16 years in Europe and eventually was returned to the US where he now is serving a life sentence for Maddux’s murder.
So you have Kemp who was an authentic sports hero and a regular guy who reached out to minorities with the only real solution to their problems which is through growth and opportunity. And you have a shameless opportunist in Specter who would do anything to get elected, say anything to get re-elected and who would betray his own party in a heartbeat.
Jack Kemp reached out in ways that many conservatives do not because blacks are propagandized and threatened against commiserating with any ideas outside the Democrat party. This should not be any barrier to the advocacy of conservatism. The majority of Americans embrace free-market ideas and are opposed to big government, excessive taxation and unionization, and are well aware of lawlessness and mayhem in the black inner cities of Democrat America.
In other words, more Americans are with Kemp than with a political cross-dresser like Specter. The GOP may feel alienated at this time, but conservatism will bring it back to the forefront in the next few years, not people like the unfaithful Arlen Specter.
Specter is reminiscent of another turncoat, Republican US senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont (Yale/Harvard) who became an Independent in 2001, ending the GOP’s one-vote Senate majority at another crucial time. These are the kinds of Republicans the party can do without.
Jack Kemp was the real deal. He will be missed.
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