(July 29) In this era of astonishing divisiveness in politics and the general culture, Fox Nation graces us with a 78-minute documentary on a late politician of a far more generous spirit, the conservative congressman and idea man Jack Kemp.

The just released documentary, The Jack Kemp Playbook, narrated by Brit Hume, is a fond and timely look back at a man who never shrank from ideational political combat, but who never made it nasty and personal. Kemp, the great popularizer of supply-side economics and of market-based anti-poverty programs, responded to difficulties and crises not with an approach of divide-and-conquer, but of unite-and-transcend.

The documentary makes clear that Kemp’s reluctance to go for the jugular sometimes harmed his own political advancement, and perhaps inadequately served Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole when Kemp was Dole’s running mate in 1996, but also that Kemp’s boundless, winsome energy led to a remarkable series of policy successes. Numerous wise observers surely would join former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in saying that among Republican elected officials of the past half-century, Kemp was second only to Ronald Reagan in importance for the conservative enterprise.

As a pusher of ideas, Kemp ultimately succeeded in catalyzing enactment of a remarkable array of policy initiatives: enterprise zones, urban homesteading, capital gains tax cuts, tenant management of public housing, welfare reform based on work incentives and pro-family provisions, housing tax credits and vouchers, school choice, health savings accounts, and of course his famous, eponymous, across-the-board personal-income tax cuts of 1981 and flatter-tax bill of 1986. Kemp also was a leader in advocating the “rollback” of Communism, especially in Latin America.

The Fox Nation video ably chronicles most of this, after beginning with a reminder of just what a superb professional football quarterback Kemp was before entering politics. It also gives a profound sense of Kemp’s innate and exuberant personal decency and goodwill….

[The full column is at this link.]




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