(This is scheduled to run in tomorrow’s (10/30/96) edition of USA Today)
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The October 28 column by Richard Benedetto, which argues that Jack Kemp has not been a team player for the GOP, is published on the same day your newspaper reports Kemp blasting other Republicans, “sunshine patriots,” for running away from Dole. Which is it?
Those of us who have been close to Jack for decades will cite as a great weakness his insistence on being a team player, even when the rest of the team has run for the hills. When George Bush broke his “read my lips” promise in 1991, we begged Jack to quit the Cabinet and run for Senate in California, but he was the team player. Benedetto now dredges back into the past to criticize Jack for privately expressing his regrets that President Bush broke the promise that cost him the 1992 election.
Where are the team players today? Ohio Governor George Voinovich, the first of the 30 GOP governors to endorse Bob Dole, was the first to turn tail and head for the hills at the first sound of gunfire. Wisconsin’s Gov. Tommy Thompson ran for cover, but after a pang of guilt, came back to the battlefield with a letter of apology to Dole. The two most popular conservative journalists among Beltway Democrats, George Will and William Kristol, practically announced that the election was over in September. In modern wartime, they would be court martialed. A few years back, they would simply have been shot.
Last Saturday, I talked to Kemp by telephone and told him how sad it was to think that a half century ago, Dole crawled out of his foxhole through gunfire to drag a wounded comrade to safety, and got his arm shot to pieces for his courage. Now, Dole himself is on the battlefield, wounded, crying out in pain, and Jack is the only man who is out there trying to drag him to safety.
What kind of journalist is Richard Benedetto? How can he get it so completely wrong as to take this moment to excuse an entire army of Republicans who have given up, while condemning the one man who clearly has not?