Jack Kemp, R.I.P.

After a bat­tle with can­cer, for­mer Con­gress­man, NFL quar­ter­back, Her­itage scholar, HUD Sec­re­tary, and VP Nom­i­nee Jack Kemp passed away yes­ter­day.

There are a lot of trib­utes out there from var­i­ous cor­ners of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, but of the one’s I’ve read so far, noth­ing has matched the one by Her­itage Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Ed Feul­ner.

Her­itage Foun­da­tion Pres­i­dent Edwin Feul­ner tonight issued the fol­low­ing state­ment on the death of for­mer Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Jack Kemp:

Jack Kemp was a leader – whether it was in a foot­ball hud­dle, a national polit­i­cal cam­paign or a pol­icy dis­cus­sion about the Aus­trian school of economics.

I first met Jack nearly 40 years ago, dur­ing his fresh­man year in Con­gress. When he intro­duced The Jobs Cre­ation Act – a major leg­isla­tive advance of supply-side eco­nom­ics – I knew I had found an ally. That ally soon became my friend

Jack was a ‘bleeding-heart con­ser­v­a­tive.’ He wanted to make it pos­si­ble for every Amer­i­can to suc­ceed and eagerly worked with peo­ple of all races, col­ors and creeds toward that end.

Across-the-board tax cuts and ‘enter­prise zones’ for blighted neigh­bor­hoods are now com­mon eco­nomic pre­scrip­tions – espe­cially dur­ing these hard times. But to make these ideas respectable, Jack had to fight for them con­stantly dur­ing his years in Con­gress, as Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment sec­re­tary, as chair­man of a national tax reform com­mis­sion, and dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial and vice pres­i­den­tial campaigns.

He won those fights, and mil­lions ben­e­fited. The tax cuts that Jack helped engi­neer in the 1980s gave Amer­i­cans unprece­dented pros­per­ity for decades. His com­mis­sion also boldly pro­posed a national flat tax. Those poli­cies also helped spread free­dom around the world.

I remem­ber stand­ing with him in Moscow’s Red Square in 1990. The Cold War was start­ing to thaw, but few even sus­pected that the Soviet Union’s days were num­bered. Jack knew. As we stood on the square, in view of the Krem­lin, he pointed out an aston­ish­ing sign: The line for the new McDonald’s restau­rant was longer than the line for Lenin’s tomb.

Many peo­ple will remem­ber Jack as a great foot­ball player – and rightly so. But he was also a great player in the world of ideas, with a mind as strong as his arm. I will miss his strength and friend­ship greatly.”

I had the chance to meet Jack Kemp once or twice.  As a for­mer HUD Sec­re­tary, he was in atten­dance at a num­ber of the agency’s ‘large events,’ and part of my department’s duties was deal­ing with ‘the large events,’ and so shuf­fling in the VIPs who would attend them was part of it.

One of the hard­est things was deter­min­ing what to call a man like that who’s held numer­ous titles.  Do you call him “Con­gress­man?”  Do you call him “Sec­re­tary,” since he had served as George H.W. Bush’s HUD Sec­re­tary and hence fully awarded the abil­ity to be called the title?

He was as amaz­ing in those brief moments, as he would have been had he been a life-long friend.

May he rest in peace.

And I set­tled on “Sec­re­tary Kemp” and “Sir.”  That seemed to go over very well.

Be Socia­ble, Share!