People

Condemning the evil murder of Dr. Tiller

Dr. George Tiller's murder in cold blood at a Wichita church today should shock the conscience and grieve the heart of every thinking person -- especially persons of faith, and above all, those of us who defend the right to life. Wichita Eagle story here. This evil and lawless act deserves absolute condemnation. It is in no way excusable, regardless of the slain man's inexcusable career as an abortionist.

I hope you will join me in praying for Dr. Tiller, for his family and loved ones, for his killer, and for the quelling of passions on all sides that would threaten peace and order in our land.

'Mr. Main Street' mourned in Evergreen

Ted LaMontagne, a longtime pillar of the idyllic mountain community of Evergreen, Colorado, passed away this week. With his business and civic activities, neighborly warmth, and devout faith, Ted epitomized all the best qualities we associate with Main Street America. We thought of ourselves as brothers-in-law for the past decade, after his marriage to Kay D'Evelyn, the widow of Donna's late brother David. I never knew a more gentle and greathearted man. Services will be held on Sunday, June 7, at noon at the Evergreen Lake House. Here is the statement his family gave out to newspapers:

TED LAMONTAGNE 1939-2009

Ted LaMontagne, a leading citizen and businessman in Evergreen for over 35 years, passed away at home on May 27. He was 70.

The Hardware, which Ted had owned and operated since 1973, was the town’s second oldest business when it closed in 2005. Mountain Home, his award-winning furniture store that began as a department of The Hardware, now operates at the same location in the historic Hiwan Barn, which he renovated for that purpose.

Ted was long active in the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, serving on its board in the 1980s. He helped found the Evergreen Music Festival and the National Repertory Orchestra, as well as Evergreen Bootstraps and the Evergreen Scholarships. Over the years he employed many special needs students from Evergreen High School at his stores.

He was a board member of Art for the Mountain Community and was himself a devoted sculptor and art collector. He served on the community review and planning committees for both the Evergreen Lake House and Buchanan Park. He was a longtime member and officer of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Evergreen, and a board member for Wide Horizon, the Christian Science care facility in Wheat Ridge.

Edward W. LaMontagne was born January 11, 1939, to American parents in Mexico City, remaining there for his early education until returning to Texas for high school. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1961 with a BA in history, he was an officer in the US Navy.

He is survived by his wife, the former Kay D’Evelyn, who continues as the proprietor of Mountain Home; his son and daughter by a previous marriage, Evan LaMontagne and Kendall Peterson, both of Denver; and his stepson and stepdaughter, Melanie D’Evelyn of Washington, DC, and Kenny D’Evelyn of Elsah, IL, as well as five grandchildren.

A memorial service for Ted will be held on Sunday, June 7, at 12:00 noon at the Evergreen Lake House.

Why Jack Kemp matters

By Sean Duffy In tributes since he succumbed to cancer last week, Jack Kemp has been rightfully called a statesman, patriot and visionary. The architect of a key pillar of the Reagan Revolution. But, as I look back at powerful and memorable encounters with him over the years, I remember boundless energy, constant searching for new ideas and new converts, and most of all, one hell of a guy.

Jack (and it was always "Jack", not "Congressman", or "Mr. Secretary"), preached the gospel of true hope, and the politics of the open door. He believed in the power of individuals to change and improve their lives and saw government as one partner in helping spark real opportunity, family by family.

Kemp's open door and enthusiasm for the future was, and is, a political magnet that helped sparked Republican growth and success. But some liberal observers in recent days have mistook the positive, welcoming philosophy for an absence of governing principles, or an "anything goes" view of public policy.

If you believe that, you don't know Jack.

There is a difference between a big tent with flaps, and a roof and structure, and a big tarp - a shapeless covering. To Jack, there was a right and wrong to how the American economy was to be organized, and the role government played in it.

The first time I met Jack was in 1996, when he was running for vice president. I was working for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge doing media relations on education issues. Kemp and Bob Dole brought their campaign to Chester, an economically struggling, largely African-American community that was the home of a wide range of education reforms aimed at empowering families. Two aspects of the day still paint a vivid picture, nearly 13 years later.

First, black men and women sought out Kemp, as he did them. In Jack, they saw a leader - and a Republican - who sincerely and personally wanted them to succeed. And he offered a vision not of more of the paternalistic government programs that had already done damage to communities like Chester.

Instead, Jack's gospel was that of a helping hand that you must grasp to, in Theodore Roosevelt's phrase "make your life." Kemp believed that whether is was choosing a better school for your kids, owning your own home or starting a small business, government must open the door and give you the chance, but you must seize it. That's real freedom.

The second aspect I remember is his energy. At that visit - and I suspect throughout much of that ill-fated campaign - he seemed like a caged tiger, pacing back and forth, ready to get out.

He was standing next to me during a typical campaign small-group meeting for an elite group of supporters, and he kept saying under his breath, "Let's go. Let's go. Let's get outta here." He wanted to get outside to the rally of working-class folks with whom Republicans hadn't closed the deal yet.

When I came to Colorado to join Gov. Bill Owens" administration, I had the chance to be with Jack several times at meetings and retreats for groups he was involved with, most notably Empower America. Each time, his boundless energy, curiosity and passion for ideas was infectious.

In what was consistently a fire hose of words and ideas, he always had a new book to recommend, a new innovative thinker or emerging leader to tout, a new project to discuss. Most of all, he made us understand that in every one of God's children there exists the potential for a bright, independent and successful future.

Like many conservatives who came of age during the Reagan years, I owe much of my optimistic belief in the future to Jack Kemp, the evangelist of empowerment. He shaped my view of what it means to be a Republican who can offer real, substantive hope and opportunity to Americans, particularly to those at the bottom of the ladder.

Not every Kemp position was right or perfect. But, in the main, his ideas and his memory should provide the GOP with a real, relevant roadmap back to power. In Kemp there is a positive, practical antidote to the currently fashionable but ultimately fatally flawed wave of "government as savior" policies.

America, and particularly the Republican Party, needs more Jack Kemps. And today we miss his energy, solid ideas and infectious hope for the future. I know I do.

Sean Duffy (sean@thekenneygroup.com) is a principal at a Denver public relations firm and served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Bill Owens from 2001-2005.

Laura Bush: Grace and strength

"All of us now in America have a chance to show our resilience and our courage." Shortly after 9/11, Laura Bush spoke those calming and uplifting words during a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Mrs. Bush had visited three military personnel hospitalized for injuries received at the Pentagon. "An opportunity has opened to do what we can for our fellow Americans," she added, "to think how we can help each other and to reassure our young children. Let them know they are safe and are loved." Heartfelt expressions such as these epitomize Laura Bush in my mind. From the first day she assumed her position as First Lady of the United States of America, she did so with uncommon humility and genuineness. Mrs. Bush brought back dignity and grace to the White House. Like her mother-in-law, she did not seek to be "co-President". She understood her role to be a supporter of her husband, and while it has been reported that she frequently has advised the President and offered opinion, she has done so in that quiet, thoughtful manner that we have come to know.

Laura Bush, like her husband, has been maligned by the MSM on many occasions. I would submit the ridicule and insult have often bordered on abuse. This woman of great courage and personal strength has not failed to maintain her composure even in the face of the most vicious accusations directed toward her family. When the Bush's moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the country had just witnessed the devastating outcome of a First Family embroiled in personal problems, and specifically, a First Marriage that was in tatters. The Clinton's, Johnson's, and Kennedy's were all First Couples that apparently had underlying marital problems that may or may not have impacted decisions coming from the Oval Office. Whatever problems faced George W. Bush as President, the world has knew his wife stood beside him, supported him, protected her family and their privacy, and she never wavered in her love and support of her country.

During the '04 campaign, I heard a panel on CNN talking about the possibility of a Kerry White House. The pundits were giddy in anticipation of having Teresa Heinz Kerry take over. They were confident that there would be no more early bedtimes for the president and his wife. Instead, the Kerry's would entertain frequently and lavishly, inviting media and socialites to share in the grandeur. It was very disturbing to hear this group insult Mrs. Bush's entertaining style and frequency. At a time of war and unrest on many fronts, I believe the Bush's held true to their convictions that their family should be respectful of sobering events of the day, and that it was their duty to maintain a more simple and less flamboyant lifestyle than perhaps prior administrations had undertaken. In spite of media criticism, the Bush's never compromised their true sense of self or their personal preferences.

Mrs. Bush has accomplished much as First Lady, but in keeping with her personality and desire to deter attention away from herself, her work has often gone unrecognized. She isn't the type that the women on The View love to entertain. She doesn't participate in petty gossip; she does not show disrespect to former presidents or criticize policies they may have initiated. An example of her true character and belief there is good in everyone was on display during this campaign. When asked her opinion regarding Michelle Obama's comment about being proud of America for the first time in her adult life, Mrs. Bush extended a verbal hand of friendship and understanding. Always the kind ambassador, she responded that Mrs. Obama likely meant instead that now she is more proud of her country. Mrs. Bush graciously helped to cover a potentially damaging statement, something the press would never have done for her.

I will miss Laura Bush every year at Christmas time. Each year, I've enjoyed the HGTV White House Christmas décor' program that featured Mrs. Bush walking viewers through the steps involved in decorating America's House each year. This year was especially poignant because Mrs. Bush chose the Christmas decorating theme of America and red, white and blue. A true American patriot, Mrs. Bush could not have selected a more appropriate way to end her career as First Lady.

As hope and change move the country forward in 2009, and a new family occupies the living quarters of this great home, one thing remains certain for me. Laura Bush has left her mark on this country, the world and the White House in so many significant and important ways. I will miss her pleasant, engaging smile, her dedication to this country, her concern and love for children and her commitment to her husband and her family. The next First Lady comes onto the scene touted as being the next Jackie Kennedy and someone of great fashion sense and style, not to mention being blessed with shapely bare arms. I wish Mrs. Obama well and at a time in our country's history when we most assuredly need a seamless transfer of strong leadership and vision, we also need the reassurance that the White House traditions be maintained and preserved. As with the family of George and Laura Bush, the closeness and affection the Obama family displays toward each other will be important to the country's morale.

As Laura Bush accompanies her husband into their retirement years in Crawford, I wish this remarkable woman, our First Lady, God's speed. She has served us well and is entirely deserving of peace and calm---both qualities she shared with us.