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The Differences Between Kemp and Ryan

Jim Antle makes a helpful observation on comparing the Republican ticket to Dole-Kemp:

There have been a lot of comparisons between Romney-Ryan and Dole-Kemp. I’ve made them myself, but I do think there is one important distinction. Jack Kemp was well past his prime in 1996: out of Congress for eight years, didn’t get very far in his 1988 presidential campaign, mostly sidelined in the first Bush administration, increasingly a conservative hero of the previous decade like Paul Laxalt or Phil Crane. That’s not a criticism of any of these men, but it reflects where they were in their political careers at the time.

That’s correct, but the greater difference between Kemp and Ryan is that Kemp was a “conservative hero of the previous decade” because he had already been successful in getting major legislation passed during that decade. Kemp was Ryan’s mentor, and Ryan has apparently modeled himself on Kemp and he is sometimes compared to Kemp. Ryan’s rapid over-promotion makes for an interesting contrast with Kemp’s belated addition to a national ticket. Ryan’s selection is another example of the Republican impulse to over-promote rising political talent too quickly.

Ryan is a conservative hero mainly because he has made several budget proposals, but he has not yet succeeded in getting any major legislation of his own passed. If one looks back over Ryan’s thirteen-year career in the House, there is very little one can cite that is comparable to Kemp’s House record. On the contrary, Ryan’s voting record is littered with a series of bad votes that directly contradict the main claims of his current admirers. It’s as if Kemp had been added to the 1976 ticket after years of voting for tax increases, and then everyone suddenly proclaimed that he was a great opponent of tax hikes. It doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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