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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.

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