Jack Kemp, 1935-2009

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05/06/2009 8:39 AM |

32a1/1241550493-dole_kemp.jpgIt is kind of sad, ultimately, how the last 30 years of American economic policy — you know, tax-slashing and trickle-downs, all that stuff that resulted in ever-growing disparity in well-being and then, ultimately, collapse — was authored by a guy who was elected to Congress because he was a local sports hero, and didn’t really understand policy at all upon arrival in Washington. This is the main takeaway from all the obituaries about AFL-era Buffalo Bills QB turned supply-sider Jack Kemp, who died this weekend from cancer.

Still, by all accounts, Kemp was a standup guy who cared more about minorities than his economic principles did, and a throwback to a Republican party defined by something other than the culture wars. (It’s especially amazing that a jock politician turned into a wonk instead of an idealogue a la Bunning, Largent, Swann…) Plus Dole-Kemp — even to someone newly aware of politics in 1996 — was an amusingly disfunctional, lukewarm major-party presidential ticket, which was fun. So, so long, Jack Kemp, I wonder how many contemporary members of your party I’ll be able to feel remotely this warmly towards, when the time comes.