The Heart of Jack Kemp

Though it's linked below in the post on Kemp's passing, I wanted to call your attention to Jack Kemp, My Teacher by Mary Brunette Cannon. She reminded me of a story that used to be famous in Kemp circles but I'd forgotten about. It concerns an exchange w/ the Ambassador from China after Kemp worked to cut off funding for UNFPA, which supports China's one-child policy.
The Chinese government was taken aback by this initiative when it was first offered in the mid-1980s and sent its ambassador to meet with Jack in his office on Capitol Hill. The diplomat made some formal comments, and Jack listened quietly, a rare response. When he began to respond, he sought to engage the ambassador on a personal level, taking about his own family and background, and asking the ambassador about his. The ambassador seemed stunned by the personal nature of the conversation, but when Jack asked him, "how many children do and your wife have?" he answered quietly that they had three, two more than the number allowed by his regime's population control policy. Jack said, "I know you must love them all very much, and believe they each have something unique to contribute. Could you imagine life without any one of them?"

At the heart of this exchange, and everything Jack did, was his unshakeable belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. This is what inspired his passion for job creation and economic growth; his support for freedom fighters in every corner of the globe; his insistence on a strong defense as a deterrent to war; his work on behalf of the poor, the immigrant, the unborn, and the dispossessed. I traveled with him from the union halls in his district outside Buffalo, New York, to the small towns of Iowa and New Hampshire; from the most blighted and desperate slums in the United States to Prince Charles' private garden at his home, Highgrove. In every circumstance, his message was the same--each and every human being is a precious resource, to be nurtured and defended and given the freedom he needs to fulfill his destiny as, in Kemp's words, "a master carpenter or a prima ballerina--or even a pro quarterback."