Robert Novak

 The presidential candidate who was the worst fit for Wanniski was Bob Dole in the 1996 campaign, based on a misunderstanding. Dole thought he was taking on an economic adviser to make him more acceptable to the supply-siders. He found in Wanniski a polymath who wanted to set policies on everything, and Dole was not buying that. It was Wanniski who fired Dole, not the other way around.

 The professional campaign consultants wanted no part of Wanniski. He talked Steve Forbes into running for president in 1996 and then was barred from the premises. When Kemp became Dole's running mate that year, Wanniski was kept out. It is hard to imagine a freethinking Wanniski in the buttoned-down regime of George W. Bush.

 St. Jude is the patron of lost causes, and Jude Wanniski lived up to his name. He saw qualities others missed in Richard Nixon, Ngo Dinh Diem, Roberto D'Aubuisson, Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet, Fidel Castro and Raul Cedras. He tried hard to prove that Ferdinand Marcos really won the 1986 Philippine election after trying to steal it. He antagonized clients with his warm embrace of Louis Farrakhan.

 The tragedy of Jude Wanniski was that all of his colleagues and friends ended up alienated or at least estranged from him: Arthur Laffer, Robert Mundell, Lawrence Hunter, even Jack Kemp. They were the losers. So was I. It was not Jude's antiwar views (which I largely shared) but the ferocity of his attacks on the Bush administration that kept me away.

 I missed hearing his brilliant and cogent theories and his overriding optimism. He appeared on the national scene with a political-economic strategy that convinced Americans they need not be content with double-digit interest rates, double-digit inflation and high unemployment. That is a powerful legacy.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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