Second dates, GOP style

Tom Hackbarth on tape looking for love in the parking lot of Planned Parenthood with loaded gun. Photo: CBS.

A Minnesota Republican state representative was caught on tape apparently stalking a St. Paul, Minnesota Planned Parenthood. The police said he was prancing  about acting “angry.” When they arrived, the Honorable Tom Hackbarth (District 48a in Anoka County) was found to be carrying a fully loaded .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.

So what’s the big deal? This incident does nothing but enhance Mr. Hackbarth’s reputation if you look at it from all angles.

He could have explained that he thought he was attending a Tea Party rally, and no one would have thought anything of the matter. Instead, he was man enough to tell the truth, even though some might think it reflected somewhat badly on his dating “game.” His explanation was that he was simply stalking a lady friend he recently met, who he believed had jilted him. If the Planned Parenthood guard had simply asked him, he would have gotten a simple explanation. But of course Planned Parenthood has it out for Republicans. That’s why the police were called.

First, the gun thing is complete a non-issue. He has a carry permit for concealed weapons so someone must have determined he’s not crazy, right?

As for why he was exhibiting “the behavior of a stalker” (according to the police), his answer is simple: under the circumstances what red-blooded 58 year-old packing heat wouldn’t? Police have been unable to locate this girl friend, however. But the explanation is simple: he met her online, went on a few dates, and didn’t have her address or phone number. Haven’t we all been through that enough times?

“In his interview with the Pioneer Press, Hackbarth explained that in one of the dating websites he uses, people communicate with each other via e-mail routed through a central website. ‘You don’t have an actual e-mail address,’ he said.

“‘I honestly can’t give you any information,’ he said. ‘When you meet somebody online — if that’s where you go — you meet somebody and you go out for coffee. You don’t exactly tell each other your life stories.’

“He said he uses ‘maybe three or four’ different dating sites and couldn’t remember which one[s].”

But why are we even looking for her? His forthright explanation to CBS-affiliate WCCO-TV of why he drove his pickup to the Planned Parenthood looking for her has the ring of trustworthiness:

“She gave me some line of baloney, and I thought, ‘well, she’s fibbing to me.’ You could tell, and I thought, ‘well, I’m going to check it out,’ and I went there to see if she was around and her vehicle was not there. And I was just checking on her,’ he said.”

If anything looks askance here, I think we best chalk it up to his being out of the dating scene for so long, being a 58-year-old married father of three and all. Plus before he was tied down to his current ball-and-chain, there weren’t things like the internet to complicate dating. In those days, you took a woman to a bar, got her drunk and then you got to know her in the car afterwards. The combination of alcohol and firearms usually was enough for the perfect date.

But the police can be counted on to over-react in a state as socialistic as Minnesota. They cuffed him and took him downtown, as they say, and put his name through their database. When it popped up, they asked him about it. But he was easily able to explain: His brother occasionally used his name as an alias. The police were unable to verify this directly because his brother was killed attempting a bank robbery.


Rep. Tom Hackbarth. His official state website shows you how to download his photo (with separate instructions for PC or Mac users). Unfortunate it doesn't have pointers for online dating.

Hackbarth, who was re-elected two weeks ago, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the incident should not “reflect poorly on his leadership.” I wholeheartedly agree. In fact it should enhance his Republican cred, but for reasons that seem obscure, the Republican leadership of the House has suspended him from leadership posts “until the issue is fully resolved,” according to Speaker-designate Kurt Zellers. What is there to resolve? I ask.


This pusillanimous procedure is wholly unwarranted, particularly given his years of service to the Republican cause. Longevity (6 terms) should be enough, but in this case there is an especial reason not only to clear his name but to celebrate his past devotion to individual liberty. He, after all, was the author and proponent of the state constitutional amendment to establish the right to bear arms and wear fur. Who can forget his ringing words designed to enshrine one of our most cherished rights? He would have added this provision to the Minnesota Constitution:

“The right of a citizen to wear fur, pelts, skins, or hides from legally taken animals, including farm-raised animals, and the right of a citizen to display legally taken trophy animals on premises owned, leased, or otherwise legally occupied by the citizen shall not be infringed.”

Under that amendment he could have met his internet dream date fully swaddled in ground hog pelts. Imagine what an impression that would have made, especially if, once they were legally occupying their bar stools, he pulled from his attaché a stuffed muskrat! There’s no doubt that he would not have had to go looking for her with a loaded revolver for the second date. But alas, Minnesota is still without that protection of a fundamental individual liberty.

You really have to shake your head and wonder what has happened to our country when a state representative can’t go looking for a girl he picked up online with a loaded gun in a Planned Parenthood parking lot without worrying about his party leadership posts. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, both of whom had guns and girl-friends that they weren’t exactly proud of, are probably turning over in their graves right now.


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