Cheers, Jack!

I’ll miss Jack Kemp! We became pretty good pals in the late 1980s. Silicon Valley was facing severe competition from Japan, as the car folks had before. And to my dismay, their response, like the car folks’, was mostly whining. That is, they turned protectionist—led by such luminaries as Valley icon Bob (Intel) Noyce.

I became, from my perch in Palo Alto, a very loud and visible and annoying voice for free trade in the Valley—and made a friend of rabid freetrader Kemp. (I testified to Congress a few times to the irritation of many of my friends.) Thanks largely to Andy Grove’s brave decision to change the playing field, the Valley retreated from the protectionist brink—there’d be no Valley as we know it today if the anti-traders had won; I’m sure of that.

In the midst of it, Bro Kemp and I did this, that, and the other together. Fact is, our official political party designations were opposites—but I loved being around the guy, we had fun with very serious stuff, and we were 100.00% in synch on trade.

[My favorite Kemp memory. I was on the Farm in Vermont—not my primary residence at the time. And the phone rang at dinnertime. This booming voice was on the other end. (Kemp could sound face to face, or on the phone, like the Bills quarterback he once was, barking signals in front of 50,000 people.) “Peters, damn it, you’re harder to get hold of than George Bush (JK was Mr Bush I’s HUD secretary at the time). I need you to get your butt down to D.C. …” Needless to say, I scurried to Washington a couple of days later for some meeting or other on the Hill with Pals of Jack.]