Politics & Policy

Jack Kemp and Me

A response.

On Wednesday, the former HUD secretary and vice presidential candidate released a statement defending Secretary of State Colin Powell from the criticisms of Newt Gingrich and me. (Kemp also throws in David Frum in his enemies list, for reasons clear only to himself.)

Kemp says that my article on Powell was “catty,” which I’ll leave for readers to decide. He implies that it was in some way coordinated with Gingrich’s speech. Not so. I did call Gingrich while writing it, because I’ve found his thoughts on national-security matters since 9/11 interesting. He did not, alas, return my call.

Kemp says that my article “harps on a constant refrain that Powell is willing to sacrifice the interest of his country to bolster his own position in Washington.” Not only is this not a “constant refrain” of my article; it’s not something I say even once, for the simple reason that I don’t believe it. What I actually wrote was that Powell “has been more successful” at protecting his reputation than at protecting America’s interests. I believe that Powell has indeed sought to serve the interest of his country, but that he hasn’t done it well. Surely Kemp is capable of seeing the distinction?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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