Jack Kemp has died — a successor to Ronald Reagan who himself has not had a successor. When his cancer was announced earlier this year, Jeff Lord wrote movingly about him and the greatness he had in him. I remember him from several live moments. Once at an American Spectator gala dinner right after the fall of Communism. “Wlady, did you think Vaclav Havel would be president of Czechoslovakia?” he asked from the podium. We always forget what a champion of freedom he was not just at home. Bob Tyrrell had introduced Jack as a perfect specimen of “sound body, sound mind.” Was he ever. I remember him on the floor of the San Diego convention in 1996. He was the announced vice-presidential nominee, basking in adulation and adoring fans. But he shut everyone up around him at that moment, his eyes rapt in attention directed at the podium, where Rep. J.C. Watts was delivering that evening’s keynote. You didn’t mess with Jack when he was in charge. Everyone quickly got quiet and paid attention to Watts too. Jack’s football position was quarterback — but in fact his position was leader. Even at the small Saturday Evening Club dinner he once attended as our guest, where he felt called upon to tell other guests when to come to the table and where to sit. He couldn’t help himself. Wherever man still wants to breathe freely, his memory will remain cherished. Jack Kemp in all his splendid energy will be terribly missed.
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