I got lucky in that regard. When people targeted me for daring to be the chief cook and bottle washer for campaigns that had the audacity to challenge the "whites only need apply" sign hanging from certain doors at Virginia's State Capitol, indeed around the country, they didn't have smart phones, the new 24/7 invasive digital gadgets, and the like to bring me down. They tried. But for the technology, they likely would have succeeded since IT DOESN'T REQUIRE DOING ANYTHING ILLEGAL. Like Patrick Moran, it is easy today to take the most innocent stuff and turn it into a YouTube video, blogging, whatever "gotcha moment" that is ruinous.
But I had the good fortune to be dumb in the 1980s; really low tech by today's standards. Thank God Mr. Jobs was still into Macs, not IPhone cameras, back then.
So they had to try to entrap me - and let's understand, in a legal sense, Patrick was entrapped here. Why? Because there is no indication Patrick had any thought of doing anything caught on tape, prior to being targeted by the fanatics who claim to be undercover "reporters."
Back in the 1980's, things were simpler: folks didn't want a black man either on the Democratic ticket, much less in statewide office. As they say, it was black or white, no more complicated than that much of the time. Contrary to public belief and mythology, Mark Warner and others were not involved at the level the press and others claim they were. Everyone in the Wilder campaign's understands the truth.
It is not politically correct to say it now. But no one tried to entrap Mark or anyone else, believe me. Those who wanted to stop Wilder at the fanatic level aimed at me: and rightfully so, unless of course they were aiming at Wilder himself.
As with the people who targeted Patrick Moran, some had "cover" as they say in the spy business; BS cover but cover enough to claim their "video" was shot in the public interest.
When they targeted me, it was far more sophisticated on so many levels. Fortunately, Wilder had given me good advice in his own way, although it took me a while to really understand it. But he said it was going to happen, one way or another. "They are going to try and split us apart, create any kind of distance between us, get into your head, try all kinds of stuff, get anything of leverage they can get on you, don't let them do it and things will work out" is what Wilder said, although naturally it has been a generation since he and I talked about this stuff so the quotation is really not intended to be the actual words, just the basic gist of the thing.
Back then, they didn't first try to ruin you: they tried to "turn you" as they say on the HBO series "Homeland." They started with offering me a good sum of money and other things to help them. Technically, this was my impression, there is no way to absolutely prove it in a court of law.
Perhaps I was wrong about it, and other things too. But I don't think so.
When that didn't work, then they went the other route.
However, I proved to be a tough target for one overriding reason: In the context of the world of politics, I am private guy. Unlike the Patrick Moran video, you would not really ever catch me hanging out someplace near the campaign, a bar, eatery, etc., talking stuff about the campaign, etc. with a complete stranger. People never quite understood my MO in that regard, or so I am told.
It was perhaps not the best way to handle stuff. But it worked for me in terms of keeping me "safe" from harms way, so to speak. I intentionally kept certain things out of politics in some dimensions. Heck, I didn't even talk to Mark or Mike or Frank about stuff!
Professor Sabato always complains that I went after him too hard. I didn't think so then nor now, but perhaps I don't get it even today. But he and others never have looked at it and other things they complain about from my point of view and what I had to deal with.
"The politics of personal destruction," Bill Clinton called it. Just read "When Hell Froze Over," a book about the historic Wilder campaign that broke the color line in Southern politics at the statewide level. And remember, that is just what the author got on the record!
The point being: Behind the scenes, things were far rougher with rougher players, really. That's the thing though: You never really know for certain when you are being targeted.
The Moran situation is a warning to all: The fanatics are out there targeting. So if you don't want to be on their next video, you really have to have your head in the game 24/7. Because they are prepared to use any means - including fooling your closest friends and whatever - to get you. And if you think otherwise, then you ain't gonna last long if you get your chance at the top.