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Jack Kemp: The Bleeding
October 7, 2015 @ 12:00 am
About the Authors — Morton Kondracke served as the executive editor and columnist for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call and was the Washington bureau chief of Newsweek and a senior editor of The New Republic. He was a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel, a panelist on The McLaughlin Group, a cohost of The Beltway Boys, and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He conducted the Kemp Oral History Project and held the Jack Kemp Chair in Political Economy at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He contributes a blog, Pennsylvania Avenue, for Roll Call. His book Saving Milly was a New York Times bestseller.
Fred Barnes is the cofounder and executive editor of The Weekly Standard. He was the national political reporter for the Baltimore Sun from 1979 to 1985, then senior editor and White House correspondent for The New Republic for ten years. He was a McLaughlin Group panelist from 1984 to 1998. He is a political commentator on Fox News and was a cohost, along with Morton Kondracke, of The Beltway Boys on FOX News. He is the author of Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush.
About the Book — The late 1970s were miserable for America. It was the post–Vietnam, post–Watergate era, a time of high unemployment, ruinous inflation, gasoline lines, Communist advances, and bottomed-out U.S. morale. In the 1980s, it all turned around: "stagflation" ended and nearly two decades of prosperity ensued. The Soviet Union retreated, then collapsed. America again believed in itself. And around the world, democratic capitalism was deemed "the end of history."
Ronald Reagan’s policies sparked the American renaissance, but the Gipper’s leadership is only part of the story. The economic theory that underpinned America’s success was pioneered by a star professional quarterback turned self-taught intellectual and "bleeding-heart conservative": Jack Kemp.
Kemp’s role in a pivotal period in American history is at last illuminated in this first-ever biography, which also has lessons for the politics of today. Kemp was the congressional champion of supply-side economics—the idea that lowering taxes would foster growth. Even today, almost no one advocates a return to a top income tax rate of 70 percent.
Kemp didn’t just challenge the Democratic establishment. He also encouraged his fellow Republicans to be growth (not austerity) minded, open their tent to minorities and blue-collar workers, battle poverty and discrimination, and once again become "the party of Lincoln."
Kemp approached politics the same way he played quarterback for the Buffalo Bills: with a refusal to accept defeat. Yet he also was incapable of personal attack, arguing always on the level of ideas. He regarded opponents as adversaries, not enemies, and often cooperated with them to get things done. Despite many ups and downs, including failed presidential and vice-presidential bids, he represented a positive, idealistic, compassionate Republicanism.
Drawing on never-published papers and more than one hundred Kemp Oral History Project interviews, noted journalists Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes trace Kemp’s life, from his childhood through his pro football career to his influential years as a congressman and cabinet secretary.
As the American Dream seems to be waning and polarized politics stifles Washington, Kemp is a model for what politics ought to be. The Republican party and the nation are in desperate need of another Kemp.