Wehner: Why Jack Kemp Still Matters

Pete Wehner has a brief post today at Commentary about the new book about Jack Kemp:

Why Jack Kemp Still Matters

One of the defining qualities of Kemp, with whom I worked in the 1990s when I was policy director at Empower America, was his belief in the power of ideas to shape history. Jack was a self-taught man, reading books by Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman while simultaneously being a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. He devoured books on Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. And everyone he met who didn’t share his views was seen as a potential convert. Jack believed the only thing that could prevent him from converting someone was the lack of time.

One sensed with Jack that he was primarily involved in politics not to gain power for its own sake or to satisfy his ego, though he certainly had a healthy one, but because he cared so much about ideas. He was fearless in promoting them and impressively immune to pressure, either when his ideas became less fashionable (as he showed on illegal immigration, when the GOP moved away from the Kemp and Reagan views) or when pressure was applied by the White House (as it was in the 1980s, when Kemp was in Congress and opposed Reagan’s tax hikes, and in the 1990s, when he was in the George H.W. Bush Cabinet yet opposed the president’s tax increase). This quarterback was not for turning.

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