May 2, 2009, - 11:09 pm

My Friend, Jack Kemp, Rest in Peace: Former VP Candidate, Congressman Fought For Freedom, Israel, Supply Side Economics

By Debbie Schlussel
Several months ago, I told you about reports that my friend, former U.S. Congressman and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp, was ill with cancer, and his prognosis wasn’t good.
Sadly, we learned that Jack Kemp died today. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. I was a Michigan organizer for his Presidential campaign from 1985 through 1988, when I was a Jack Kemp delegate to the Republican National Convention (and the second youngest delegate to the convention overall). In the years since, Jack Kemp went slightly liberal on us. But who can forget his tremendous contributions to the important causes of freedom, capitalism, and human rights? It’s because of that, that I and my family planted trees in Jack’s honor in the Irving W. and Marilyn Schlussel Forest in Jerusalem. Jack thanked me over and over when I presented him with the certificates.
I Have a Ton of Pics w/ Jack Kemp (but this was the least fugly–most were taken as I was gaining the “Freshman Ten” in college) . . .


Me With Jack Kemp, mid-1980s

In Congress, Jack Kemp was not only a key conservative leader, but an important advocate of supply side economics and the Reagan revolution in Congress. He was an important fighter for freedom and human rights for persecuted Jews–Refuseniks–in the then-Soviet Union and an important proponent of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the U.S. Trade Bill, tying trade with the Soviets to their human rights record. He was a Scoop Jackson Republican and an important proponent of Israel’s right to exist in the Middle East. Kemp was one of the early Republicans to recognize the jihadist problems and terrorist threats that Muslims posed–and do even more so, today–worldwide. Jack Kemp loved America, but he also worried for those far from our shores.
I was proud to become a personal friend of Jack Kemp, whom I got to know as a teen intern on Capitol Hill, as a key campaign worker in Michigan, and later in life when I would run into him from time to time in Washington and elsewhere. He would even tease me about my boyfriends at the time and joke around, etc. I literally knew him since I was 15. He was always a nice guy, a class act, and the very definition of a mensch.
Although I grew disappointed with his support of open borders, expanded rights for illegal aliens, affirmative action for minorities, and the contracts he gave Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Bush that father, I will never forget his important contributions to freedom, liberty, and justice, when it counted . . . when he was in Congress and had a vote and a strong voice on the House Foreign Relations Committee.
With a great head of hair and perpetual movie star looks, Jack Kemp was also a great NFL quarterback who interned for Governor Ronald Reagan in the off-season (and that’s how he became a conservative), but that was not what was his important contribution to America. Nor was his run as Bob Dole’s running mate, when he knew he would be a sacrificial lamb against Clinton-Gore’s re-election.
Here’s what is important about Jack Kemp. Many people are free today and can freely practice Judaism because of Jack F. Kemp’s important fights against the Soviet Union and Arab Muslim’s fights against Israel’s right to exist. He also was the reason there are “enterprise zones” in many of America’s inner cities, today. (He was that rare conservative Republican who regularly got the majority of the Black vote in his Buffalo, New York district.)
Jack, you will not be forgotten.
I’ve re-posted, below, what I wrote about Jack Kemp when I learned of his illness. Some of it is repetitive (forgive me), but his important contributions bear repeating. This was a good and decent man and a truly great American. And he will definitely missed. I mourn his loss with the many who knew him.
Jack Kemp, Rest in Peace.

Bad news about a man who was once seen as a top leader in the conservative movement and a promising Presidential candidate. Jack Kemp, who went from Buffalo Bills QB to Reagan intern in California to rising political star in Washington, has cancer. It is apparently very serious, and I hope he recovers.
When I was a teen, one of my heroes was then-Congressman Jack Kemp. At the time, he was a down-the-line conservative who was pro-America, pro-Israel, and pro-self-empowerment. He championed tax cuts and enterprise zones and got it right,whether it was domestic or foreign policy. He was an important and vocal person in the fight against oppression in the then-Soviet Union and a strong supporter of sanctions against the country. As a high school student, I was one of the many who were involved in Jack Kemp’s campaign for President in 1988, which essentially began back in 1984. I got to know Kemp and was instrumental in his Michigan campaign–at the time Michigan was the first in the nation to pick its Republican delegates. I became a Jack Kemp delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention.


Jack Kemp Cards–Rookie Card at Right (Schlussel Collection)

But after that, Jack Kemp started to go liberal. He opposed propositions in California and elsewhere that limited affirmative action and stopped benefits for illegal aliens. And he endorsed a number of other liberal ideas. That’s not to mention that as HUD Secretary under President George H.W. Bush, Kemp granted security contracts in federal housing projects to the Nation of Islam.
Still, I can’t forget the many important things Jack Kemp did that helped build the conservative cause and which were good for America. And regardless of his politics, he’s a good man for whose well-being and recovery from cancer I’ll be praying. I hope you’ll do the same.

Sadly, those prayers were not answered. But, I am sure, he is now in a far better place.
Again, Jack Kemp, Rest In Peace.

15 Responses

Sorry Debbie, your hair was much too small for that to be 80s hair!
The only time I got to see Jack Kemp I was changing a tire in Camarillo, CA on the freeway at night in 1996 when I heard sirens coming up behind me. It was Kemp’s motorcade, and I waved as they went by.
That was a another depressing election year.
VERY ’80S. DS]

Erick Brockway on May 3, 2009 at 12:33 am

First Pavarotti, now Jack Kemp. Another friend of Israel and the Jews gone.
I’m pretty sure it was Jack Kemp who leaked James Baker’s famous remark about the Jews, “[f…] em (read without the ellipses). They don’t vote for us anyway.”

Underzog on May 3, 2009 at 7:12 am

p.s. Your hair was nice, but I like it better today.

Underzog on May 3, 2009 at 7:14 am

Thanks for your comments the passing of Jack…he will be missed

James R McKenna on May 3, 2009 at 9:09 am


mindy1 on May 3, 2009 at 10:16 am

A good man isn’t perfect and the best of us make mistakes. We should never lose sight of people who leave the world a better place than when they came into it. That was Jack Kemp and he lived a full and rich life and that’s the kind of person most of us aspire to be. His passing is sad news and may his memory be for a blessing.

NormanF on May 3, 2009 at 11:26 am

God Bless, and Rest in Peace Jack.
Dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

Jackson Pearson on May 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

Debbie, you have always been so reluctant to post any pictures of yourself, but when you finally do it they are all great. So what if you were bit 80’s’d out your freshman year. You still looked lovely. On behalf of your male readership, I encourage you to post more Debbie pix.

Anonymous1 on May 3, 2009 at 11:58 am

Was sad to hear of Jacks passing. He was one of the good guys. In all aspects of his life he showed class.
Debbie, you have gotten hotter with age. Are you the next Cougar contestant?

Mark on May 3, 2009 at 5:13 pm

i vaguely remember his last year with the Bills…think a certain Orenthal Simpson was a rookie then—and he was one of the GOOD Republican politicians…must be the sports connection!
Sure there’s a lot of people who’re wishing Ed Kennedy was being eulogized here…and man, were you in a time warp then? Looks like something straight outta the Fifties

EminemsRevenge on May 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Jack Kemp was a man’s man. Eventhouh I wasn’t a big fan of his policies in the later years, he never backed away from his convictions. One thing I will respect of any politician is whether they believe the issues they espouse. With Kemp it seemed liked he genuinely believed what he was espousing. Today’s politicians are so unconvincing, it makes everything cynical. Compare VP candidates. Did Palin understand what she was saying during the campaign? She may have had the look and style and charisma but she was just reading off cue cards. However Kemp may have been more liberal than Palin but you knew where he stood. With Palin you have to find out who was pulling the strings to know where she stood.
As for Debbie’s hair, well it looks better.

californiascreaming on May 3, 2009 at 10:26 pm

THIS is 80s hair!
You may recognise a few of these folks.
Bunch of us on Twitter (started in #tcot then went nuts) changed our avatars to 80s pictures.

Erick Brockway on May 4, 2009 at 12:12 am

Jack Kemp was a great American and I had the greatest opportunity in meeting him in 1992 at a big College Republicans celebration.

Bobby's Brain on May 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

He had nice handwriting.

Tempus Fugit on May 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm

I remember him as quarterback of the Buffalo Bills.
Channel 4 in Buffalo was one of the few stations we could receive in the days of the old AFL.

Burt on May 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field