David Larsen’s hit men.

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At the January 19th conservative confab in Hackettstown, former Congressional candidate David Larsen had an exchange with Professor Murray Sabrin that I found interesting and followed that exchange up with a tweet that raised a very important question: Is conservatism a “life style”?

Hoping to spark an intellectual discussion, last week I wrote a column about it. What I got was a hit piece done on me by the former social media consultant to Mr. Larsen’s campaign. Somewhere it is trying to make a point worth discussing, but this is lost in the treacle of insults, name calling, and defensiveness about employer Larsen.

I thought my column was very respectful of Mr. Larsen. I didn’t call him names and I didn’t attack him personally or try to embarrass him. Larsen raised an issue I thought worthy of discussion and I don’t know why he opened his big mouth if he didn’t want someone to consider and discuss what he had to say.

But instead of a reply from Mr. Larsen, a public figure and candidate for high public office, he sent his consultant to attack me. For starters, this consultant disrespected me by questioning my authorship and blaming another. It turns out that this person blamed has a history and insight into Mr. Larsen, having worked for Mr. Larsen as a consultant to his campaigns doing opposition research on Congressman Leonard Lance on behalf of Candidate David Larsen.

That is correct. David Larsen is not some blameless victim. He is a multi-millionaire candidate for public office who hired an opposition researcher to get the goods on Congressman Lance. Although David Larsen is very new to the conservative movement, Mr. Larsen is a player in the game of politics.

In writing last week’s column, I did not recount the numerous anecdotes cited by many who were once affiliated with Mr. Larsen’s campaigns as the reasons why they quit Larsen. I did so out of respect for Mr. Larsen and because I wanted to start a dialogue. I was answered with the hit piece.

Hit piece or not, the question remains unanswered by Mr. Larsen’s corner. If conservatism is a “life style”, instead a kind of politics built around a set of policies, then what makes up that “style” of living? If we take Mr. Larsen as an example, is his “style” of life closer to that of the church going, abstemious, born again Jimmy Carter; or the free living, cocktail hour, divorced Ronald Reagan? Do we judge who is the conservative based on his “style” of living or his politics?

I still would like to have that dialogue (minus the insults, name calling, etcetera) so I will relate just one recurring topic mentioned by the people I spoke with about what it was like on the inside of the Larsen campaign. All mention the religious nature of the campaign and how it centered on Mr. Larsen. Maybe calling it a cult of personality is going too far, but being endlessly asked what you think about “David” and being asked to reaffirm your commitment to “David” is weird to many people.

Those closest to “David” were asked to attend special campaign meetings. From the reports I got these were all-male and the women stayed in an adjoining room. Attendees were asked to take off their shoes and there was a lot of talking and praying. The was no alcohol present, although more than one attendee remarked on the peculiar odor of men’s feet mixed with aroma of freshly baked pizza, one calling it “potent”.

This isn’t my idea of a meeting, but whatever.

In his campaigns, Mr. Larsen made it very clear that he does things his way. He claims to get his advice from the Almighty, but it is clearly the way he wants to do things. That is Mr. Larsen’s right as a candidate, just as it is the right of those working for his campaign to quit because they think he is a little weird. It works both ways.

I’m sorry to have to say this to you, David Larsen, but if people quit because they think you are a freak that doesn’t make them less conservative. As I wrote in my column last week, you need to look in the mirror and work on a few things. Put away the high and mighty bitterness and get some humility.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the interest of having and open discussion on this topic, CNJ welcomes a reply from David Larsen. It will not be edited.

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