The Vader/Skywalker Ticket
Jude Wanniski
August 13, 1996

 

Memo To: Maureen Dowd, NYT
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Vader-Skywalker ticket

I might have known you would use my line that Dole and Kemp are like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, father and son. Dole's press guy, John Buckley, saw me in the Hyatt hotel lobby and gave me a dressing down. It was not helpful, he said. I'm happy that you did mention the "father and son" aspect of the metaphor, because it perfectly describes the two men. At times, Dole even resembles Vader's dark countenance. This is when we see Dole's dark side, his pessimistic side, the side that came of age in the midst of the Great Depression, a 13-year-old boy living in a basement apartment in dustbowl Kansas. Darth Vader actually derives from the term "Father of Scarcity." In the Star War Series we remember Vader as being an evil figure, but he was simply doing the best he could in a world of limits, presiding over an Empire that submerged individual expression in the interests of the community. Evil is built on ignorance of how to defeat scarcity. The Death Star was Malthusian, in the sense that unless individual expression and individual initiative can be allowed to flourish, growth will cease and civilization will die. Luke Skywalker, the son of Vader, will not accept an Age of Limits, which, should it ever occur, would require us to communize. At the time the movie was made, it was the Club of Rome that represented the Death Star on earth. Luke Skywalker defeats the Death Star, but Vader escapes. The Reagan figure in the film was Han Solo.

In the American presidency, there is always need for a leader who perfectly balances pessimism and optimism, the interest of the community and the interest of the individual, the defensiveness of security against the audacity of the risk-taker. Dole and Kemp are the perfect match in that sense. Think of the equilibrium of a mobile, which hangs on a single string, with pieces far apart that hang from other strings. If you cut one piece out, the mobile collapses. So was the Dole campaign in steady collapse, until Dole reached out to Jack. The ticket is in perfect balance. No other choice could have done it. The GOP now has a formidable team to contest with Clinton and Gore, another balanced ticket with Clinton the risk-taker on that team, Gore the charter member of the Club of Rome and the Age of Limits.

In his metaphor, Kemp said he would be the "blocker" and Dole the "quarterback." In reality, what you should expect to see is Jack "quarter backing" the team with Dole the coach and owner.

Whatever And Wow! By Maureen Dowd
Sunday, 8/11/96
The New York Times
(Copyright 1996, New York Times Company)

SAN DIEGO Everyone knows that Bob Dole is going to lunge for Jack Kemp's throat. The only question is whether it will take weeks, days or hours.

"These guys have been fire and ice forever," says Ed Rollins, Mr. Kemp's adviser in the '88 Presidential race. "They've fought like cats and dogs in the past," agrees Bill Bennett, Mr. Kemp's empowermentor. "But Madison and Jefferson disagreed, too."

"I think of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, father and son," chimes in Jude Wanniski, Mr. Kemp's supply sidekick.

Jack French Kemp is a sweet guy. But you couldn't imagine more excruciating company for poor Bob Dole. He will be a constant irritant, nipping at Mr. Dole's heels, getting on his last nerve, prattling on about the gold standard, enterprise zones, flat taxes, von Hayek and Malthusian theory.

You can just picture the two men trapped in a Winnebago touring the heartland, trying to imitate the socko Bill-and-Al road show. Mr. Dole glaring at Mr. Kemp's big old helmet hair, as the Vice-Presidential candidate burbles on in his high-pitched voice for the third consecutive hour, "And another little known fact about Bretton Woods that I'm not sure you quite grasp yet, Bob . . ."

The peppy, Jack-in-the-box qualities that are supposed to offset Mr. Dole's dry, sparse style the Kempian chattiness, ebullience, sentimentality, pie-in-the-sky visions and zest for self-promotion ~ are the very qualities that will drive Mr. Dole absolutely batty.

"It's only 12 weeks and they'll have two airplanes," Mr. Rollins says hopefully. But even this good friend of Mr. Kemp's describes him as "a total pain . . . impossible to discipline."

We are talking here about a 61-year-old man whose favorite words are "Wow!" "Neat!" and "Super!" He saw "Les Mis" three times and still gets misty about Jean Valjean's sad fate for stealing a loaf of bread. (Mr. Dole probably thought Jean Valjean should have gotten more time.) Taking his cue from the fact that he and his wife, Joanne, have "J" names, he gave all four of his children names that began with "J."

"Once we started with J's," he explained to me once, "the last two kids would have felt like oddballs if we'd named them Margaret and Pete."

As HUD Secretary, Mr. Kemp was dismissed as the "class clown" of the Bush Cabinet because of his annoying habit of smirking, rolling his eyes, squirming in his seat and coughing nervously when he was kept from weighing in on subjects he was not involved in, like foreign affairs and economics. Once, he and Secretary of State James Baker had to be separated outside the Oval Office after Mr. Baker blew up at Mr. Kemp's insistent advice about the Soviet Union.

When Gerald Ford called President Bush in July '92 to suggest that Dan Quayle be replaced, Mr. Bush told aides: "I could never take Kemp. Can you imagine how out-of-control he'd be?"

Mr. Dole always considered Mr. Kemp a pretty boy who devalued ideas, and Mr. Kemp always considered Mr. Dole a fuddy-duddy who resisted new ideas. During the '88 primary, Mr. Dole joked that the former phys.-ed major and Buffalo Bills quarterback should aim for football commissioner.

Mr. Kemp's talent to annoy was on display in the Republican primaries, when he endorsed Steve Forbes too late to help Mr. Forbes but not too late to anger Mr. Dole.

"It's only a question of when the first Bob Novak column appears that says, 'Sources within the Dole campaign say that Dole is not taking Jack Kemp's wise advice,'" says Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard. "If they win, Dole will waste no time saying that enterprise zones are being launched in Buenos Aires, and it's really important that Vice President Kemp should go there indefinitely."

Mr. Wanniski says the key is a prenuptial agreement that puts Mr. Kemp at the center of the campaign. "If Dole says, 'I'll take out the garbage if you wash the dishes,' they'll get along fine. It's not a love match. It's a marriage of convenience."

Another pal says he cautioned Mr. Kemp in terms he could appreciate: "I told him 'Bob Dole is the captain of the team and the quarterback' and he said 'I understand,' and I told him 'Jack, this is the time for team play,' and he said 'I understand.'"

But you know he will be antsy on the back bench and will want to throw deep with the ball. I give it about three weeks before Bob Dole leaves him on the tarmac with his bags.