Daily Meme: Name Dropping Jack Kemp

  • During his career in Congress, Paul Ryan has tried hard to plant the idea that he is the second coming of Jack Kemp, whom he worked for briefly in the 1990s. At the Kemp Foundation's first event in 2010, the Wisconsin representative said, “Jack is the reason I ran for Congress. I was motivated by Ronald Reagan, but inspired by Jack Kemp.”
  • Even earlier, in 1999, he said, “I learned economics working for Jack Kemp."
  • Paul Ryan's attempt at inception seems to have worked pretty well.
  • To wit, "Jack Kemp 2016: The Case for Paul Ryan"
  • Or Politico Magazine's piece this week, "Is Paul Ryan the GOP's Next Jack Kemp?"
  • Bob Woodson, a community organizer in Philadelphia, said of watching Paul Ryan speak, “I felt like I was watching another Jack Kemp."
  • NPR headlined a 2012 piece, "Ryan's Speech Revives The Spirit Of Jack Kemp, War Over Reaganomics"
  • Joe Nocera wrote in 2011, "Ryan clearly views himself as Kemp’s natural successor. At 41, he’s been in Congress most of his adult life, where he has pushed the boundaries of Republican economic orthodoxy, just as Kemp did. He has the same kind of “happy warrior” mentality. ('I’m a walking piñata,' he said with a smile.)"
  • In Ryan Lizza's profile of Ryan last year, he wrote, "Conservative editorialists and activists cheered him on. “What Ryan and Sununu have proposed is historic,” Newt Gingrich wrote in an op-ed piece. “They have fashioned a plan that makes the idea of a personal-account option for Social Security not only politically viable but, indeed, politically irresistible.” Jack Kemp lauded his former aide: 'It will be proven the most efficacious of all the reforms.' For the first time, Ryan enjoyed a round of worshipful media coverage. 'that hair, those eyes, that plan,' proclaimed the headline of a long home-state magazine profile in 2005."
  • Although some of compared the two and failed to see the much ballyhooed similarities.
  • Al Hunt writes, "Ryan lacks his mentor’s inclusiveness and empathy. Kemp was at a home in the barrio or the ghetto, where he sought to share his entrepreneurial American dream. That isn’t Ryan’s world. Black or Hispanic leaders would have been in Kemp’s rolodex and on a first-name basis with the ex-congressman from New York and secretary of Housing and Urban Development. With Ryan, these constituencies have a correct and distant relationship."
  • Suzy Khimm adds, "Ryan and Kemp had diverged when it came to broader questions of spending and the budget. A self-proclaimed “bleeding-heart conservative,” Kemp thought that prioritizing austerity and balanced budgets was wrongheaded, and he pushed for special tax breaks to revitalize America’s inner cities. Ryan, by contrast, has prided himself on being a deficit hawk unafraid to make tough cuts to rein in spending. Rather than singling out low-income Americans for help, he wants to scale back tax breaks while lowering rates for high- and low-income households alike."
  • For all of Ryan's efforts only to appropriate the most alluring elements of Jack Kemp nostalgia, he seems to have picked up many of Kemp's flaws (like adding failed vice-presidential candidate to the resumé)—as well as failing to grasp some of the qualities that made the former member of Congress memorable. For example, "Kemp can often sound like a 'Jackie-One- Note,' a speaker who tells you more than you ever wanted to know about the arcane intricacies of economic and monetary policy."
  • Sound familiar?
  • In 1987, Maureen Dowd quoted Norm Ornstein on Kemp: ''With his body language and the weighty issues he chooses, he always seems to be grabbing your elbow and saying, 'I am an intellectual, damn it!'" 
  • Rebecca Kaplan, looking at the Kempian insurgency last year, wrote, "For all the renewed prominence he has given Kemp’s political approach, Ryan is at the core of the movement to slash the federal government and restructure entitlements."
  • David Stockman, former Reagan budget director and colleague of Kemp, isn't a fan of the current House budget chair: "He's all hat and no cattle. Beyond that, I think he's intellectually dishonest. His budget plans are bogus."


You may also like