This exchange with David Larsen is getting weirder and weirder

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On January 19, at a gathering called to discuss the future of the conservative movement, two-time candidate for Congress David Larsen raised some issues in an exchange with libertarian Professor Murray Sabrin. Larsen later posted this statement, which for me summed up what he was getting at:

“Conservatism is a life style, not a covert name tag to wear during a primary.”

In a column that appeared on CNJ a week later, I offered my opinion on David Larsen’s assertion, but instead of explaining his assertion, the Larsen campaign’s former social media consultant wrote a nasty column full of name-calling and personal insults. Looking to bring the focus back to a discussion about Mr. Larsen’s original assertion, I wrote another column on the subject and the Editor at CNJ invited Mr. Larsen to share his ideas with us.

Unfortunately, David Larsen has chosen to ignore the idea that started this commentary - his idea, his words - and instead he offers us a reply that is prickly and personal, and fails to move the intellectual discussion any further.

To start with, Mr. Larsen attempts to avoid discussing the topic he raised, by questioning my credentials. This is very rich coming from someone who nobody had ever heard of before he announced that he was “the conservative for Congress” in 2010.

Speaking of me, Mr. Larsen writes: “Good golly! who is Ms. Molly? Is she involved in the Conservative movement in NJ? If so, for how long? What organizations does she belong to?”

All of the same could have been said of Mr. Larsen just three years ago, with one difference - his mode of expressing his “conservatism” was to become a candidate for federal office, a public figure, while mine was to pen a column on a conservative blog from time to time. So I ask Mr. Larsen and his supporters: “Which of us deserves the greater scrutiny: Candidate Larsen who wants to make the laws for every one of us in these United States, or blogger Molly?”

According to the documented record kept by the Federal Election Commission, David Larsen never found any conservative candidate or committee worthy of his support, until he himself decided to become a candidate for Congress. Then the floodgates opened. In 2010, Larsen donated $239,822.00 to his campaign for Congress. He followed that up with a loan of $74,395.43 to his 2012 campaign for Congress.

And while I am glad that Mr. Larsen finally found a “conservative” he could believe in, couldn’t it be that this was as much an exercise in personal ambition as it was about any “conservative” cause?

As for a “name tag to wear during a primary”, isn’t it possible that Mr. Larsen, upon finding that he had the ambition and resources to run for Congress, decided to adopt the tag “conservative” in the Tea Party year of 2010? Why wouldn’t he? I’m sure his campaign’s voter survey poll informed him that most Republican primary voters called themselves “conservative”. As a businessman, he understands basic marketing and what a “brand” is.

But please don’t get me wrong. It is not my goal to dispute whether David Larsen is “conservative” or not. What I dispute is surrendering to him the right to decide who is “conservative” or not.

David Larsen is not a philosopher. He is a two-time candidate for public office. Before that, he worked in his family’s manufacturing and real estate business. End of story. Mr. Larsen hasn’t written a book or even a series of articles that explains his world view to us and his philosophy of what it means to be “conservative” or to live, as he puts it, a “conservative life style”. There are men and women who have spent their entire lives pondering these questions and I would rather look to them than to Mr. Larsen, begging the question: “Just who the hell is David Larsen”?

As for Mr. Larsen’s threat to chase down every young woman in the tri-state area who happens to share my name, all I can say to him is “knock yourself out”, because it says so much about him. It tells me that he is a hypersensitive authoritarian, who would rather try to intimidate those who disagree with an assertion that he raised - he raised, his words published and distributed by him - than try to have a mature, civil exchange of ideas. I can understand why there are those who think he’s weird.

In his response, published this morning on CNJ, David Larsen makes several attempts to mislead the reader. Writing about the person who I identified as “the former social media consultant to Mr. Larsen’s campaign”, Mr. Larsen wrote:

“The blogger - who is well known for his independence and confrontational style of writing - posted this article on his own. To my knowledge and by his own admission, he is not an opposition research consultant, as that is a person who does such work for a living.”

I never wrote that he was an “opposition research consultant”. I wrote that he was “the former social media consultant to Mr. Larsen’s campaign”. This is easy to verify. I got that information from the Federal Elections Commission. They got it from Mr. Larsen’s campaign, and Mr. Larsen’s campaign treasurer - under penalty of law - certified that it was true. The record shows that Mr. Larsen’s campaign paid this person in a non-employee role to handle “social media”. He was paid as a “consultant” to the campaign. If there is anything Mr. Larsen would like to dispute about this, I suggest he contact the Federal Elections Commission.

In another attempt to mislead, David Larsen writes:

“Then again, speaking of ‘opposition research consultants,’ it’s worth noting that the author did mention Rep. Leonard Lance. Rep. Lance did hire a professional consultant firm and its proprietor is Mr. Bill Winkler - whose association with CNJ is well known - to dredge up campaign dirt on his primary opponent, which of course is public record.”

Again, a simple check of the documents provided to the Federal Elections Commission by Mr. Larsen’s campaign reveals that Mr. Winkler worked for Mr. Larsen’s campaign in 2010 - and as late as July 2011 he was still being paid by Mr. Larsen’s campaign. Does Mr. Larsen now dispute what he reported to the Federal Elections Commission? Did he mislead them then, or is he trying to mislead us now?

Mr. Winkler will not speak on the record about Mr. Larsen’s campaign or why he left it, but the records filed with the Federal Elections Commission indicate that very few employees or consultants stayed with David Larsen for very long. Why the huge turnover?

In today’s response, Mr. Larsen writes:

“The CNJ article claims to offer inside information from ‘many who were once affiliated with Mr. Larsen’s campaigns’. I have yet to locate anyone associated with my campaign who has been interviewed by this author or who even knows this author. In spite of this, the author claims that all those interviewed spoke of the ‘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.”

In the course of his two campaigns for public office, David Larsen’s campaign succeeded in making quite a few people uncomfortable. In response to Mr. Larsen, I need only to offer this one example. If you read my first column on this subject you will note that I closed with these paragraphs:

“For all its strong points, the two campaigns of David Larsen did not exhibit an intimate understanding of the different contexts which make up the conservative movement. According to activists involved in Larsen’s effort, there were strong religious overtones to his campaign meetings that did little to reassure those conservatives who happened to be of other faiths or indeed, no faith at all.

These were self-inflicted problems that plagued Larsen’s campaigns and cost him support. If the former candidate seems a little bitter for the experience, he should look no further than the mirror for the cause. Certainty is the cause of many a failed campaign - and nothing is more certain than when a candidate believes that God has pre-ordained his victory.”

Read the comments under my column, and you will find a comment from Mr. Larsen’s campaign manager in 2012. He is a Tea Party leader and a conservative activist. Under his own name, he thanked CNJ editor Rob Eichmann for posting my column, calling it a “great article.”

That’s what Mr. Larsen’s campaign manager had to say about my column. Any questions?

In yet another attempt to mislead, David Larsen gets all huffy because I mentioned his wealth and writes this in his response:

“I will not apologize for the success enjoyed as the result of my toil, sweat, sacrifice and blessings. America is the land of opportunity where all people have an equal opportunity to advance themselves - and I’m appalled this sort of aspersion would be cast on me, noting the fact that Rep. Lance is himself, a multi-millionaire who also campaigned for public office.”

I only made reference to Mr. Larsen’s wealth because he himself made reference to it when he was talking other conservatives out of running against Congressman Leonard Lance. Mr. Larsen made the argument that he was the conservative with the most resources, so every other conservative should defer to him. Mr. Larsen put the political consideration of resources above whether or not another candidate had more experience with or fluency in the conservative cause.

And while objecting to criteria raised by him - Mr. Larsen attempts to mislead the reader again by leaving out a very important source of his wealth, namely, inheritance.

“I will not apologize for the success enjoyed as the result of my toil, sweat, sacrifice and blessings.”

Maybe “blessings” is newspeak for “inherited wealth”?

As for your campaign events, the “David” crap, the odor of men’s feet, the praying, and all the rest of it, these were turn-offs for many of those involved with your campaign. Sorry to tell you that, but they were. Some people thought it was weird. Again, not every “conservative” shares your outlook on these things and you didn’t seem to want to accommodate that in your campaign. Tell you the truth, your statement that “brand new slippers were offered to anyone who doffed their shoes”, freaked me out too. I mean, WTF!

Finally, you claim to know Reid Buckley and Michael Reagan. Good, you appear unable to, but maybe you can get them to respond to the question of whether or not conservatism is a “life style” as you contend, and what is a “true conservative” as you claim to be. We need to have this discussion in 2013 and as you appear unwilling or unable to elaborate or your assertion, perhaps you can get them to do so on behalf of your assertion. I suspect that they have some of the philosophy that you - “the true conservative” and the judge of what is a “(conservative) life style” - appear to lack.

The boys who write Rubashov brought up the philosopher Michael Oakeshott the other day. I understand where they are coming from when attempting to define what is conservative. Professor Oakeshott was attempting to find a modern context for conservatism and in doing so rejected the modern followers of Burke because they attempted to use metaphysical and religious beliefs as the cornerstones of conservatism. Oakeshott recognized the “radical individuality and diversity” of our times (and he was writing this in the 1950s) and argued that a “conservative understanding of government as a limited and specific activity was more appropriate than the alternative understanding of government as the imposition of a substantive conception of the common good.”

Professor Oakeshott wrote: “It is not at all inconsistent to be conservative in respect of government and radical in respect of almost every other activity.”

And so, on that note, once again I’ll ask David Larsen to elaborate on his assertion that “conservatism is a life style”.

Editor’s Note:  Once again CNJ invites David Larsen to offer his response to this column.  Once again, we offer to publish his thoughts in their entirety and unedited if he chooses.

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23 Comments

  1. URA Putz says:

    Molly = Robo

  2. truther says:

    Putz = Ray “Lord of Ass” Lesniak.

    Obviously you have got under his skin.

    Keep up the good work CNJ!!!

  3. Theresa Symonds says:

    This article is filled with falsehoods about David Larsen and his campaign. The campaign manager that was quoted was a disgruntled employee who was fired. I believe you should check your sources before you put anything into print. Mr. Larsen has many faithful conservative supporters. I personally worked with many volunteers from varying faiths on the Larsen campaign. I don’t understand the point you are trying to make about Mr. Larsen praying, is there something wrong with a person praying about his future. This, if it transpired, happened in the privacy of his office. Once again, I must make the point that you really need to check your sources and the agenda they are following. Mr. Larsen was endorsed by many members of local Tea Parties. He was endorsed by Michael Reagan and the New Jersey Right to Life. He was also endorsed by CPAC. He is truly a conservative who ran for a seat in the House because he loves his country and felt that it was his mission to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. If you want to questions anyone about being a true conservative why don’t you look at Leonard Lance’s record. He campaiged as a conservative yet everyone knows he is a strong moderate.

  4. pta observer says:

    While not detailing a single “falsehood” you did manage to use up your entire shitbag of cliches.

    You also lied when you wrote:

    The campaign manager that was quoted was a disgruntled employee who was fired. I believe you should check your sources before you put anything into print.

    No, he was the campaign manager and introduced as such by David Larsen. There is a lot of paper from the Larsen campaign that states this (not to mention the FEC) so get your facts right before trashing a good conservative and Tea Party founder who was just trying to help the dysfunctional Larsen.

    Some of those involved in Larsen’s campaign heard that the manager quit after being told by Larsen that God was directing his campaign and he didn’t need to spend anymore money to beat Lance.

    There is nothing wrong with praying until it is not your religion. If you don’t believe me, try visiting a mosque and tell me how comfortable you are around all those shoeless men.

  5. marcuslee (Edited) says:

    This comment has been removed for violating the CNJ comment policy. This is your one warning.

    - Editor

  6. marcuslee (Edited) says:

    The comment from PTA Observer should not have been allowed according to your own user policy, please see below:

    5. Blatant disregard for civil discourse toward other commenters will not be tolerated.

    When the comments suit your agenda…you allow them… but when they point out the truth about what is really going on here…boom…you are slapped with a CNJ comment policy warning.

    The comment from ptaobserver may not use the vernacular you approve of, but it is pertinent and informative. You should learn to comment in the same way. If you choose not too, you will no longer be welcome on this web site.

    - Editor

  7. marcuslee (Edited) says:

    Comment Removed for Violation of CNJ Comment Policy.

  8. URA Putz (Edited) says:

    Comment has been removed for violating CNJ’s comment policy. This is your warning.

    - Editor

  9. Matis says:

    Has anyone asked Larsen about rape? If he tells the truth, he’s done. And Rove won’t be needed.

  10. JimmyZ says:

    @Matis. What is wrong with you? Some of these comments about Dave Larsen have been over the top, but your comment is even beyond off base. At this point we appear to be only one or two comments away from accusing him of eating live babes for breakfast. It’s a shame the conversation has degenerated to this level.

  11. Andrew says:

    Besides Matis, which comments have been over the top? Don’t get hysterical Jimmy, Dave is a candidate for Congress and voters are allowed to question him. If he can’t stand the heat. . .

  12. JimmyZ says:

    Andrew…oh that is rich, “don’t get hysterical”. I am only going to give one example and then I will leave this topic, because I am not going to get dragged into rehashing a “hit piece” on the guy who ran for office against a RINO.

    The description of praying with shoes off was downright silly. Like many people, he either has people take their shoes off (or they choose to out of politeness) and - independent of that - he either opens a meeting in his home with a prayer or he says grace over the food. So the writer spins that to make it sound like they are in an Al-Quada like meeting where the zealots require some strange ritual.
    That’s just plain silly. And frankly it is borderline mocking of common Christian practices like saying grace over a meal.
    If you read my comments in the “Calling all Thinkers” thread you will see that I both agree with our Christian heritage while also agreeing that fiscal only and social/fiscal conservatives need to focus on their common ground and “agree to disagree” and then move onto what they can do -together - to save our country from a Marxst takeover.
    So for the fiscal only conservative, I understand they may be uncomfortable if a candidate says grace or opens a campaign staff meeting with a prayer. Again, ths was apparently a private meeting, not a public event.
    But that doesn’t mean you freak out and mock the Guy’s Christian faith by painting him out to be some wild-eyed freak. He is not. I have been in both political and social events with Mr. Larsen and he is respectful and doesn’t force his faith on people. you don’t get to be a multimillionaire successful businessman managing multiple self-owned businesses without learning to balancing your faith versus working with others who don’t share your faith.

    And while we are on the topic. His socioeconomic status shouldn’t be presented as a negative. My opinion is the article did that.While reading it I felt like the writer was channeling Rachel Maddow or Chrs Matthews.

    The “accommodation” door sings both ways. We need to find the common ground for fiscal and social conservatives, and in the process it is a bad idea to try to score political points in a hit piece by mocking the guys Christian faith. Because the fact is there are a lot of Christan conservatives. The ” fiscal only” conservatives need us, and “we” ( social/fiscal conservatives) also need the fiscal only. So a great start is that we all cut each other a little slack. I’ll bite my tongue when a person says they could care less about abortion, and they can bite their tongue when a guy says grace in a private meeting.
    If we are willing to ride out a few moments of discomfort then both groups can accomplish a lot together.

  13. Tea Party Jane says:

    if Larsen is not on the ballot this year why should we care ?

  14. JimmyZ says:

    Tea Party Jane…THANK YOU!
    Why is this even a topic now to begin with? If someone has some personal vendetta against Dave Larsen, then let’s a least wait to see if the guy runs for any other office and then start the political hit pieces.
    It is much better to spend or time getting great info like what CNJ just posted on the impending gun bills in NJ. That is Great info and something worth spending time on.

  15. Andrew says:

    Hey, listen up you two. Dave Larsen RAISED the subject, so HE opened it up to comment. Also, Dave Larsen asked to be listed as a CANDIDATE at today’s rally in Trenton.

    I don’t know what your cultural background is Jimmy, but where I come from we do not ask people to remove our shoes at the door and then offer them a pair of (how did Larsen put it) new slippers. Maybe in Japan, but not it New Jersey. So yeah, that is a little weird to me.

    It’s like when Rudy wore a tutu or when Nancy Reagan had a fortune teller at the White House. Weird. So if you are a candidate for office you open yourself up to scrutiny and voters are allowed to look at the way YOU PRESENT YOURSELF and say WEIRD!

    Now regarding prayers. Prayers are nice but too much praying leaves some people cold. Me included. I don’t go to political meetings to pray. I don’t like it. It is like saying “God is on our side” when we don’t know what God wants because we are not God and it always reminds me of that pompous Jimmy Carter.

    Some prayers exclude others. If you are a Jew, Dave Larsen can leave you cold. If you are a Catholic, it’s not much better. Jews and Catholics have a different sense of the place of religion than does the Evangelical tradition practiced by Dave Larsen. It is the job of the candidate to make people feel at home and plenty of people, including his campaign manager, were not made to feel at home.

    Here’s the point Jimmy and Jane: Dave Larsen wants to make you think that everyone who walked away from his campaign was walking away from the conservative movement. That is spin and it isn’t true.

    The people I know who walked away from the Larsen campaign were walking away from Dave Larsen. They did so because he made them feel uncomfortable or they decided that they plain didn’t like him.

    If Jimmy and Jane like him, that is a matter of taste, of opinion, and you are allowed to personally like him and vote for him. If others DO NOT LIKE THE CANDIDATE they are allowed to not like him and it doesn’t mean that they get EXCOMMUNICATED from the conservative movement for not liking him. That is a weird religious idea that Larsen and some of his group are demanding. Screw you. You don’t get to decide.

    Finally LARSEN RAISED THE ISSUE OF HIS MONEY to EVERY CONSERVATIVE HE TALKED TO to keep other conservatives out o the race in 2012. Then he didn’t spend what he said he would which added the idea that he was a bullshitter to the mix.

  16. JimmyZ says:

    @Andrew: been nice talking to you buddy, bye.

  17. Andrew says:

    Same here. Just remember that the same right that you have to like a candidate applies to me NOT to like a candidate. Have a good weekend.

  18. truther says:

    Someone who throws around words like “RINO” shouldn’t complain about “hit pieces”. The word “RINO” is a hit piece. It is a dismissive term used to end debate or explanation.

    Larsen’s place is worth a few million dollars. It isn’t the muddy farm he tries to make it out to be, it is a mansion in the most expensive community in Hunterdon County, itself one of the top ten richest counties in America. Larsen makes it sound like Bangladesh.

    In America we wear shoes. It is not our custom to take them off when visiting other people. If Larsen doesn’t want visitors to his home then he shouldn’t have his meetings there. Don’t invite people if you are weirded out by their dirty shoes.

    Some people suffer from foot odor and want to keep their shoes on. There is even a Seinfeld episode about it. Don’t embarrass them and if you do, don’t expect them to like you for it.

    Now do you understand?

  19. Mark D Quick says:

    RINO is a very deserving term for some…….

  20. truther says:

    You have been an independent, Reform Party member, and a Republican. You have also supported a LaRouche Democrat against conservative Congressman Scott Garrett who you claim is not a conservative.

    What name should we make up for you?

  21. Mad In District 7 says:

    You don’t even LIVE in New Jersey! Your name is:

    Richard Zuendt
    141 Bullard Ford Road
    Hartsville
    SC
    29550
    973-420-9919

    And judging from all the properties YOU own, looks like you’ve done very well for yourself, Mr. 61-year old!

    I am sooooooooo sick of these nasty politics, but you take the cake by acting like you’re a conservative and from New Jersey JUST so you can spread your liberal agenda all over the internet and play it off like you’re “concerned”. The only thing you’re concerned about is getting liberals in office and this smear piece is proof of that!

    You should be SUED! You and the rest of the Woodstock throw-backs with nothing else to do but use DECEIT to get noticed!

  22. Mad In District 7 says:

    Keep it up jerk and I’ll make my own blog about YOU and this fraud website of yours!

  23. I did live in New Jersey. I was one of the founders of this website. And moron, I didn’t write this article, Rob Eichmann, who has since then passed away did. But just because you don’t like it, I will not pull it down.

    If you had half a brain, you would go and ask David who I am and you would find out that worked on his campaign in 2010.

    So go out and start your own blog. I have the perfect name for it, “Bozo discovers the the internet”.