A tale of two (or three) Toms


Tom Campbell, a former Palo Alto-area congressman, hopes to be the Republican pick in this year’s attempt to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

The Los Angeles Times covers the rift this has created among Republicans. Boxer, who trends liberal on most issues, is solidly pro-Israel and Campbell’s difficult record in the area presents what some say is a Republican nightmare: Boxer, a ripe target in a year when Republiclans hope both Houses will swing to their side, holding forth against a weak-on-Israel candidate in a state where Jewish voting makes a difference.

Jennifer Rubin and Philip Klein at Commentary have been outfront on this, uncovering evidence of Campbell’s closeness in the 1990s to Sami Al Arian, who pleaded guilty subsequently to a Palestinian Islamic Jihad affiliation, as well as Campbell’s votes against making Jerusalem Israel’s capital and against foreign aid for Israel.

Campbell has pro-Israel friends, though, and David Frum attempts to dismantle much of the case against him. The 1990 vote against naming Jerusalem Israel’s capital, Frum explains, had to do with the fact that it was being touted by a Democrat (would Frum be so forgiving of a Dem dodging a GOP pro-Israel initiative for the same reasons?).

More compellingly, Frum offers this from a letter from the late Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress and indisputably a pro-Israel stalwart:

Since we first met, I have known of your strong support for the State of Israel and its people. You and I have spoken many times of the need to assure the survival of Israel, as well as to fight against hatred and bias around the world, including here in our own country. We have agreed on so much about the need to keep our wonderful country free from anti-semitism and from any form of state-sponsored religious bias. You have been a champion in these battles, especially in the struggles for tolerance within your own party.

Compelling, until you learn — as the Daily Caller, a conservative news site, pointed out — that "Lantos’s words were a preface to concerns he expressed about Campbell’s vote in 1999 against $30 million in economic aid to Israel."

In other words, beginning an otherwise critical letter with that salutation would not be out of place if the congressman in question was virtually your neighbor.

My own problem with this is my late ex-father-in-law (untease that one at your peril) was a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who also happened to be named Tom. I learned a lot from him, most importantly, that his hallmark — like Lantos’ — was old world correctness, gentlemanliness. Coming out and saying "You’re an idiot" was just not done.

Using Lantos’ letter to bolster Campbell’s case is really icky.

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