Manufactured scandal leaves another political career in tatters
He had lost interest in, or focus on, his job as Minister for Transport, but his performance was no worse than that of the government as a whole. His second life as a gay man had no bearing on his public duties.
Of course, if Campbell had been a stellar minister – instead of an affable journeyman of politics – and if he were serving in a good government, he may have been able to survive with the perfectly reasonable argument that he had committed no offence, other than the private pain to his wife and family.
Campbell had never set himself up as a ''family values'' campaigner. A photograph of himself with his wife and sons is merely that – a family photograph – not a morals crusade.
But even more obnoxious than the faulty justification is the self-righteousness of journalists and TV executives who set themselves up as arbiters of public morals.
Politics and journalism are careers of remarkably similar character. They both attract some shallow individuals in it to make money and acquire fame. They also attract people who are, in some measure, committed to the public interest.
But the most common trait is that politics and journalism often create broken lives. The newsrooms and TV studios of this country are littered with failed marriages, alcoholism, drug abuse and, yes, people living double lives.
For journalists, of all people, to moralise over politicians’ personal lives is a repulsive conceit. In the case of Channel 7 news chief, Peter Meakin, who signed off on the story that revealed Campbell’s gay life, it is problematic.
Unlike Campbell, who has committed no offence that we know about, Meakin recently faced jail after his third conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. He had been found guilty of dangerous driving – having blown 0.1, double the legal limit – and of attempting to evade the police after they tried to pull him over. Meakin was originally sentenced to weekend detention but got off with 250 hours of community service.
His offence, of driving while boozed up in a way that could have endangered the lives of innocent people, far outstrips any personal lapse by Campbell.
There was no public benefit in outing Campbell as a gay man, just as there was no public benefit in revealing the extra-marital affair of his erstwhile cabinet colleague John Della Bosca. Both men may have betrayed their marriage vows but that remains a matter solely for their families and, if relevant, their God.
These stories are nothing more than prurience and, one day, it will rebound on the predators. One day, a politician with a long memory, good connections and nothing to lose will get up in parliament and detail all he or she knows about the ''complex'' lives of those who report them.
We may end up living in interesting times – and remember the Chinese meant that as a curse.
I'm posting this as a follow up to the previous post from towleroad that labelled David Cameron as a "family values' politician - basically implying that he's a homophobe who got what was coming to him.
While the towleroad post was obviously factually wrong- Cameron was manifestly not a political homophobe - I'm more interested in the gleeful reaction people had to the posting. I think it's actually quite homophobic, the way that some lefties seem so willing to dichotomise gay people into "righteous" and "non-righteous". Gay baby boomers face(d) problems that most of us won't ever really be able to comprehend, and in cases like this it's probably worth at least entertaining some degree of understanding before the guillotine comes down.
EDIT: Shit. Obviously I mean David Campbell, not Cameron.