Associated Press’ Unintentional Humor About Tom Campbell

By Bradley J. Fikes

The humor comes courtesy of AP writer Don Thompson, with a wistful good-bye to the political career of Tom Campbell, defeated Tuesday for the Republican senatorial nomination to face Barbara Boxer this fall.

Campbell says it’s sad that a moderate like himself can’t get nominated, because the primary system is “stacked” against those in the middle of the road. And from the tone of his article, Thompson agrees with Campbell.

The unintentional humor appears in the third graf of Thompson’s article, which says this:

“Campbell stumbled on all the Republican defining issues—abortion, guns, gay marriage and taxes—as he lost the GOP nomination to former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina.”

Campbell stumbled on key GOP issues

Campbell stumbled on GOP issues

Since Campbell disagrees with all issues key to GOP voters by Thompson’s own account, that would appear to put Campbell more in line with the Democratic Party. So why didn’t Campbell run as a Democrat?

And courtesy of Thompson, Campbell keeps digging himself a deeper hole, using the most self-aggrandizing and fatuous comparisons:

After his latest loss, Campbell wondered if even Abraham Lincoln and 19th century statesmen Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, known as the great compromisers, could win election in today’s harsh partisan environment. He worried that voters are turning from veteran politicians like himself just as their experience is needed to heal the economy and fight unconventional wars.

Lincoln, Webster, Clay . . . and Tom Campbell. More from Thompson on this latest political giant:

Campbell has difficulty in Republican primaries because his social views are the opposite of most Republican voters. He favors abortion rights and gay marriage, and has supported state tax increases in the past. He alone among the three Republicans in the U.S. Senate race opposed letting people on the federal government’s “no-fly” list buy guns.

Abortion rights and gay rights are indeed contentious issues for Republicans. Some Republicans do win office supporting one or the other, because they are for limited government in other areas. Campbell doesn’t offer that. His record of support for tax increases and a dubious restriction on gun rights made the mixture unappetizing for both the social conservative and the libertarian conservative factions of the GOP.

Thompson’s capsule description of the “no-fly” list gun ban proposal by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.), fails to point out the serious constitutional issues at stake, as described by the libertarian magazine Reason:

His bill, the subject of a recent Senate hearing, gives the attorney general the power to block gun sales to anyone the government suspects of being a terrorist. Never mind the obstacle known as the Second Amendment, which according to the Supreme Court protects an individual right to own guns for personal use.

Someone arrested, tried, and found guilty of a crime loses that particular freedom. But Lautenberg’s bill would strip the right from many people without forcing the government to show they’ve done anything wrong.

It’s not entirely clear what it takes to be tagged in the government’s terrorist watch list, which includes more than a million names and has been plagued with errors. “How you get on is a mystery, and how you get off is extremely difficult,” says Mike German, a former FBI agent now with the American Civil Liberties Union.

A 2009 evaluation by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that many nominations “were processed with little or no information explaining why the subject may have a nexus to terrorism.” The FBI also “did not consistently update or remove watch list records when appropriate.”

If you get put on the list by mistake, you may find yourself permanently exiled to the Twilight Zone. The program under which innocent Americans may challenge their designation “does not always provide meaningful solutions,” according to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

Don Thompson’s story reads like a big wet kiss for Campbell from an admiring reporter. But on closer inspection, it turns out to be something far less attractive.

This is my own opinion, and does not necessarily reflect that of my employer, the North County Times newspaper in San Diego and Riverside counties.

One Response to “Associated Press’ Unintentional Humor About Tom Campbell”

  1. George Skelton had a very similar column in the LA Times alleging that Ronald Reagan could not get nominated today. I had a rather funny exchange of e-mails with him, where among other things, he offered to send me a map to help me leave the state. Actually, that’s unnecessary considering the ruts in the right lanes heading east.

    Maybe these guys are all on a Journalist, or something. How come they didn’t invite you, Bradley ?