Kemp -- the Glue of the Republican Party
Jude Wanniski
June 2, 1998


Memo To:  Website fans, browsers, clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Cedric Muhammad on Kemp

From time to time, someone makes an entry in our TalkShop that is so insightful that we pull it up as a Memo on the Margin. Today’s memo showed up on TalkShop on May 9, entitled: “Kemp -- the Glue of the Republican Party,” written by Cedric Muhammad, a regular contributor to TalkShop. Cedric is a 26-year-old black man who I first met last year when he came to interview me for the Final Call, the weekly newspaper of the Nation of Islam. When he is not volunteering his considerable journalistic skills to the NOI, he runs his own enterprise in New York City, managing several athletes and entertainers. He is as pure an embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit as anyone I’ve ever come across, not only juggling several projects at once, but also storing away ideas for new ones as time permits. As his commentary on the GOP attests, he already has a grasp of partisan politics that is practically at a professional level. I sent the commentary to Kemp when it came in and think it appropriate to post it here this week, at a time when the GOP is deciding which budget path it will take, with Kemp leading the way in arguing it has to gamble on growth instead of worrying about Clinton’s scare tactics on Social Security.

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In recent weeks as I have seen the re-emergence of the old Newt Gingrich, the rise of James Dobson, the argument between Bud Shuster and John Kasich, Pat Buchanan's continued presence, Steve Forbes's appeals to cultural conservatives and the Republican flip-flop over how to deal with Bill Clinton's alleged transgressions with Ms. Lewinsky, Ms. Jones, Ms. Willey, campaign finance and Whitewater, I know that I am seeing a party headed for civil war, possibly losing its majority in Congress and more probably losing the presidential election in the year 2000. As I ponder all of this I see the awesome power of special interests and the Republican party languishing to find a leader in issue or human form, who can unite all of its fractured elements. Well, I know that it is unpopular to do so, because the party seems to be so down on him, but Jack Kemp represents the only hope for the party to avoid an untimely demise. A demise that may take until 2004 to correct. If the party loves Reagan so much they should be rallying around Kemp. He is the rightful heir to sit in Reagan's seat as we enter the new millennium.

Kemp has embraced Supply-Side economics for 20 years, before Reagan was even President and everyone else is a pretender to the throne, desperately re-inventing themselves in Reagan's image and wrapping themselves in his ideas. Other than Jack, the next Republican leader will have to be capable of uniting the base of the Republican party which most people say is a mixture of cultural conservatives and supply-siders/fiscal conservatives. Forbes represents a potential merger of these two elements but he is new to the game, a little Ross Perotish with his outsider angle and still unfamiliar to many Americans. So what we are left with are a group of candidates that lean too heavily to the supply-side/fiscal conservative constituency or too heavily to the cultural right. [Rep. John] Kasich too fiscal minded for most, [Sen. John] Ashcroft too much on the cultural conservative side, Buchanan too much on the cultural side and a little scary to the hardcore Democratic constituency that will come out in droves just to see him not win. The same with the return of the old Newt, if he wins the Republican nomination the Democrats won't even have to physically campaign the country, all they will have to do is run scary TV ads with monster movie music in the background as they wax poetic about Newt's attack on the Democratic base. George W. Bush is our UPO (Unidentified Political Object) and may not stand up to public scrutiny. So what we are left with is a party that will have a brutal campaign with very little CC -- Compromise Capability. That is why it may be wise to not give up on Kemp yet as he can sound more like Reagan than all of the above put together, take Forbes's flat tax, verbally embrace Kasich's fiscal leanings (and still cut taxes anyway), agree with Buchanan on the IMF, and lend a sympathetic ear to the cultural right without giving in to all of their demands.

Why? Because Kemp has the ability to attract a large new voting base that can replace the cultural conservatives that will not support him. He is the only candidate that doesn't NEED their vote to win, in essence they can be replaced by Jack's untapped pull in other areas like the Black vote. He has cross-over appeal. None of the others have that so they will be absolutely forced to bow down to the cultural right and end up alienating any new base of voters they may have been able to attract with a skillful outreach. But the Republicans seem to have privately beat up on Jack so much that they may have already rejected their only hope in the year 2000. The best chance that they have of beating Gore and Co. is to hope that the economy goes bad and if it does, Jack still looks better and sounds better than Kasich or Forbes -- the other two strong economic candidates. Privately, the Democrats know that if the cultural right begins to dominate the Republican Party, they win. They kill the Republicans in the numbers game and the cultural right can be positioned as anti-everything and scare/force many Democratic voters off of the bench and into the booth.

Only Kemp and John McCain can cross over into Democratic territory and steal votes and McCain has taken a body blow on the anti-smoking legislation that he may not recover from. So if the Republicans can take a little advice from this budding political analyst (smile), STOP RUNNING FROM JACK KEMP IT COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

Cedric Muhammad