Ever since he’s been in the Tennessee General Assembly, state Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) has incurred the acrimony and dislike of Democrats — not merely for his extremist legislative proposals, few of which make it very far off the launch pad, but because of his willingness to draw attention to himself through outrageous and insensitive statements.
On Monday, the “Don’t Say Gay” senator, infamous as well for his abortive proposal last year to deny families of failing school-children access to state social assistance, finally jumped his shark. Or, more accurately, boarded his train to possible political oblivion.
Campfield’s antics had already made him the target of a thinly disguised purge attempt by the Republican establishment in the guise of Dr. Richard Briggs, a distinguished Knoxville physician who has challenged the madcap senator in the August Republican primary,.
Now Campfield has earned the public condemnation of state Republican chairman Chris Devaney for remarks on the state senator’s personal blog Camp4u, comparing Democratic efforts to sign up patients for Obamacare to the Nazis’ routing of European Jews to the gas chambers in World War Two.
Campfield’s “Thought of the Day” for Monday reads as follows:
“Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory [sic] sign ups for ‘train rides’ for Jews in the 40s."
Reaction across the political spectrum was quick and, it would seem, uniformly aghast.
It was not unexpected that Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Roy Herron should refer to frequent anatagonist Campfield’s blog statement as “outrageous, pathetic, and hateful.” Herron goes on to say that “Sen. Campfield and other Tea Party Republicans” are endangering the lives of thousands of Tennesseans by their resistance to the state’s receiving federal funds for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Par for the course.
But the Knoxville senator also found himself being lambasted by Herron’s opposite number, Devaney, chairman of Campfield’s own party. Devaney wasted no time adding his condemnation, calling Campfield’s words “ignorant and repugnant.”
The GOP state chairman’s statement deserves to be read in its entirely:
"While Stacey Campfield routinely makes remarks that are over the top, today's comments are ignorant and repugnant. No political or policy disagreement should ever be compared to the suffering endured by an entire generation of people. Those comments have no place in our public discourse. He should offer an apology to members of the Jewish faith immediately."
Clearly taken aback, Campfield posted a response to his own blog item as an answer to what rapidly became a cascade of criticism:
“I regret that some people miss the point of my post,” he said.” It was not to offend. It was to warn. To draw attention to Obamacare and the slippery slope that I see occurring in the lives of myself, my constituents, and the rest of the country with the continued taking of freedom by the federal government”
That formulation will be recognized as a variant of the non-apology apology, the thrust of which is “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”
From that first paragraph Campfield goes on to say this:
“In no way was my post meant to diminish or detract from the pain, suffering and loss of human life that occurred during this dark time in human history. Instead the post was meant to draw attention to the loss of freedom that we are currently experiencing. I stand by my steadfast opposition to Obamacare.”
And, in a final paragraph, he makes an effort to equate the Affordable Care Act with the public funding of abortions.
And he concludes: “I will continue to stand up against the government takeover of the nations [sic] healthcare. I will continue to support freedom and life”
Under the circumstances, the more pertinent question might be whether Stacey Campfield will be around next year to stand up and “support” anything in the state Senate. He is rapidly becoming a man without a party.
There's no "if" to it. He seems to have offended everybody this time.