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Politicians should be judged consistently

I’m glad I’m not running for office anywhere.

Anyone aspiring to political office today sets him or herself up for advanced scrutiny. Every skeleton you ever imagined hiding in somebody’s linen closet gets dragged out and micro-examined. As a former full-time pastor, I’ve undergone a fair amount — or unfair, depending on how you look at it — of hyper-criticism and analysis.

I once had a man tell me that a metal column on the church’s façade was dented and my children must be the culprits because he’d seen them outside playing over there the previous week. I responded by telling him what a weak, unfounded argument that was, then watched him back his truck over the church’s fence as he left.

I laughed. He sighed. We both apologized and life went on.

I don’t think I could stand up under such scrutiny.

I imagine my “confirmation” hearings going something like this:

“Rev. Campbell … can I call you Rev. Campbell?” (I wish you wouldn’t. Brett is fine.)

“Fine. Rev. Campbell, is it true that you ate an embarrassingly large amount of homemade Christmas candy in your mother’s kitchen only to deny it to her face while pieces of said candy remained in your mouth?” (Yes, that is true. I was in first grade, I believe, at the time.)

“So old enough to know better, Reverend, and therefore guilty as charged, correct?” (Yes, and I was punished for that event.)

“Moving on, Dr. Campbell …” (Doctor? I’m not —) “Did you or did you not look a Muslim in the eye last winter holiday season and say to him, ‘Merry Christmas,’ thereby offending his religion and sensibilities?” (I did say ‘Merry Christmas’ to a man that I did not know was Muslim at that moment. But I’m a Christian and that’s what I say and he smiled and said ‘Thank you.’)

“Are you saying you’d follow the laws of your church and God instead of the laws of the great United States of America? I bet you wouldn’t bake a cake for a homosexual couple renewing their wedding vows, would you?” (I believe God is the ultimate authority and …) “Answer the question, Mr. Campbell!” (I can’t bake very well. Why are they asking me to bake?)

“When did you stop beating your wife?” (I, uh, I haven’t. I mean, I never did. Start, that is.)

And it just goes downhill from there.

So many events have taken place over the last several years that amount to ad hominem attacks — an argument directed toward a person rather than his or her position. Whenever our passions drive us to attack the messenger rather than dissect the message, they’ve driven us off track onto a dangerous path.

Freedoms and laws should apply evenly for all persons, not change on a whim or based on whether we agree with something they said or did. Enable freedoms, enforce laws.

My children know I’m not perfect, as much as I want to be so for them. My 17-year-old daughter wrote me a letter — I know, right? — telling me how excited she was that her best friend had recently become a Christian. She asked us to pray that she’d live a good example for her friend to follow. Proud daddy.

Then she said she loved me, and knows that I’m not perfect, but that I do my best to live a good example for her and her siblings. She thanked me for that and I thank her for seeing the best in me.

That’s how we should ultimately judge others — by how they live consistently. Politicians should be judged on the same merits.

Lifestyles editor Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.