Well this thing over John Edwards's hiring of bloggers Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon) and Melissa McEwan (Shakespeare's Sister), has really turned into an embarrassing spectacle. There is so much about this that sickens me it's hard to know where to begin.
I was going to hold off on pronouncing my verdict on this whole brouhaha until Edwards made a statement, but since he and his staff have gone to the mattresses, I think I know all I need to know. He's a craven coward. Firstly, because he's allowing himself to be bullied by the likes of Bill Donohue and Michelle Malkin into even considering firing the two bloggers. Secondly, because he can't even be man enough to own up to a decision and make his promised statement.
It looks like the Edwards camp is in total disarray over this and that is a poor comment on how they will handle right wing aggression during the campaign or, god forbid, in office. He's a typical Democratic weathervane politician, and I'm done with the like. I'm with Booman on this. It was an opportunity for him to show some backbone and it turns out he's a slinky.
My disgust with Bill Donohue, Michelle Malkin, and the rest of the right wing noise machine that has stirred up this teapot tempest is fairly self-evident. For these people to accuse Marcotte or McEwan of hate speech doesn't pass the laugh test. As Salon points out, Malkin is associated with genuine hate groups:
Malkin, it should be noted, is hardly innocent of being involved with what ABC News' Terry Moran termed "hate speech" when applied to Marcotte. Malkin has long maintained ties to VDARE, a Web site tagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center that has published works by people like Jared Taylor, one of America's leading white supremacists, and Sam Francis, who was fired by the conservative Washington Times for his own white supremacist remarks, given at a conference held by Taylor's organization.
She's also noticeably insane, but that's a subject for a different discussion.
Media Matters has done an admirable job of cataloging Donohue's embarrassing verbal tics. Here's a tiny sample:
- "People don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]
- Addressing former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) in a press release, Donohue said: "[W]hy didn't you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn't allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?" [10/4/06]
- "Well, look, there are people in Hollywood, not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots. They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn't care. If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it with a smile on their face." [MSNBC's Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]
As my husband, whose mother was almost a nun, said when he first saw the odious Donohue on "Hardball." "Who is this lunatic? Why is he on television? Why should anyone care what he thinks?"
That Edwards cares enough what these people bloviate about to be driven into total retreat speaks ill of him and of his campaign. But that's the good word from TPM. Of course Edwards is getting it from all sides. The media has jumped onto the non-story of the Catholic baiting bloggers with both feet. And the blogosphere Edwards was attempting to court with this hire, is in full attack mode. We might need a GPS tracker to locate him. I wonder if he left his cell phone on.
Meanwhile, the Edwards camp is under blogospheric siege from some quarters. Chris Bowers of MyDD is threatening not to support Edwards if the two bloggers are fired. He writes:
While there is no way I will support Edwards with Amanda and Melissa...fired, I will immediately become a staunch Edwards supporter if they are not fired. Consider the heinous reporting that is being done in this story, where bigot William Donahue is somehow an authority on what defines hate speech, it is clear that the Edwards campaign will take a lot of flack from outside the netroots if they do not fire Amanda and Melissa. Keeping them on would show a willingness to take risks and stand up to the media in a way that most Democrats just are not, all because the campaign will be doing so in order to defend the netroots.
If someone is willing to stand with us, that should mean something big, and should not go unrewarded.
Oh Mr. Bowers. You are a whore. A staunch Edwards supporter for no reason other than how he treats the netroots? So his creepy position on Iran... that's cool as long he backs bloggers? And this brings me to the final item of disgust in this whole affair. What this whole thing does to the credibility of the blogosphere.
That bloggers, myself included, are not practicing journalism, as in unbiased reporting, is clear to all but the most self-aggrandizing among us. We are at best advocacy journalists or self-appointed op-ed writers. And that's fine. Blogging has allowed average citizens a platform in a very large village square, from which to voice our opinions on the political process, form alliances, and step into greater rolls of civic responsibility. The power of such movements is diminished more than a little, as it becomes clear that our voices and passions can be bought and sold by political campaigns or anything else. At that point we aren't citizen journalists. We're publicists.
As skippy said in a post on this issue:
warning to bloggers: don't ever take a stand if you want to work for a candidate
If a blogger is doing his self-appointed job, he is probably taking a lot of stands that would come back to haunt him in the political arena. If a blogger isn't standing on principle and ruffling feathers, what the hell is he doing? There has been a fair bit of speculation that the reason Kos dissed the bulk of his blogroll, is that many of those bloggers aren't diehard supporters of the "my Democrat right or wrong" school of thought. And let's face it, all Kos is interested in at this point is positioning himself in the Democratic Party machine. That was obvious a long time ago, and it was the death knell for any credibility he had as an independent blogger in my opinion. As I've said before, the Democratic Party isn't courting bloggers because it wants to incorporate our issues and our voices into its vision. It's trying to buy our votes and manufacture consent. John Edwards will get neither from me.
Update: It appears that Mr. Edwards has issued a statement and that the bloggers jobs with his campaign are safe for now. This, even though he is "personally offended" by their religious commentary. Too little too late, imho. I don't care for the way the Edwards camp has handled this. His "fair shake" smacks of Donald Trump. And if he's going to let the wingnuts rock him back on his heels with their baseless attacks, it reads to me like a lack of character and conviction. His behavior leads me to believe that if he wasn't at risk of losing the bulk of the left wing blogosphere, he would have caved.