Saturday, May 02, 2009

Jack Kemp's Hagiography, via ESPN

Jack Kemp died yesterday, and as typical and expected, news sources glossed over the more controversial elements in his life, which I totally understand.  There is no reason to crap all over someone the day they die.  But a little perspective is not uncalled for.

The AP's headline seems fair enough, "Jack Kemp, former Quarterback and VP Nominee Dies".  I could complain that grammatically, it sounds as if Kemp was a former nominee for the post of Quarterback, and if I had had my way, I would have written "former VP Nominee and NFL QB."  But that's neither here nor there.

But, ESPN--really?  Jack Kemp was an American "Hero"?  He played some football in Buffalo.  He was good at it.  He parlayed that success into a being a Congressman for a lot of terms.  Hero? He was basically OK, compared to the other folks he associated with.  And Jack Kemp is one of those guys--he was OK, as far as Reagan Revolution Republicans go--in an age in which Reagan was starting myths about Welfare Queens driving Cadillacs (hey kids, back then, a Cadillac was considered a good car), Jack Kemp was attempting to get his fellow Republicans to care about minorities, illegal immigrants, and the like.  

He failed, in massive fashion, obviously.  I don't hate Jack Kemp, and I really don't want to talk about his playing in the NFL whilst Vietnam raged, or how his Enterprise Zones were the most ridiculous idea in the "liberal" wing of the Republican Party for a good number of years, or why he signed onto to the Bob Dole Campaign for Irrelevance in 1996.  

But Hero?  He was a reasonably OK guy.  Maybe even a Good Guy, if you looked past his pro-life views, his overly simplistic solutions to complex racial and social discrimination, and his willingness to work with morally bankrupt Presidents.  Hero?  I think not.  To his credit, Kemp would probably be the first to correct ESPN on that score.  

1 comment:

libhom said...

Kemp was a bought politician and a con artist. He was the Bernie Madoff of politics.