Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Edwards campaign gets blogged down in muck

This has been an interesting winter for bloggers.

For anybody who has not yet heard what bloggers are, these are the people who write regular log entries on the internet -- web logs, abbreviated to ’blogs. I happen to keep a blog*, myself, but mine is merely an outlet for my own ego. I don’t expect to effect change in anybody but myself, and I seldom break news of anything more than a personal nature. Still, others have been outlets for hard news when nobody else would tell it, and a couple of them, by virtue of the substance of the news they released, have been agents of change.

So, those who keep blogs -- bloggers -- are, by some, deemed to be the new up-and-coming powerhouse. Candidates for government office occasionally write their own blogs, but more often now hire other popular bloggers to present the daily patter of the campaign office, expecting they will capture the brilliant, hip and youthfully energetic crowd. In some ways, it is not unlike hiring a speech-writer, press secretary, and newspaper publisher all rolled into one. And the popularity of the blogger beforehand may be the difference between having the Monmouth Daily Review Atlas and the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch release your news. Mitt Romney has a campaign blogger, as do Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. And the last of those three saw trouble, this week.

Amanda Marcotte, whose blog Pandagon has long been a site for strong language and strong opinions from the left, was picked up by Edwards to put her “hip” spin on the campaign. The problem with his choice of bloggers was that Marcotte has long been a very good example of how not to play well with others. Her blog is not merely leftist, but hate-filled and chock full of bile, largely directed toward Christians, particularly Catholics. She was downright pornographic in the way she discussed things as important to Christian faith as the Virgin Birth. Marcotte went out of her way to be grotesque. And when she was called to task on it, she blamed the right-wingers for her mess, complaining they were censoring her.

After some discussion with headquarters, she issued the “I’m sorry if you were offended by what I said,” pseudo-apology and promptly went back to her nasty habits. Eventually, even the pretty boy whose campaign she was supposedly helping could see that she was alienating the very people he needed, and it appears she was asked to resign from her position as campaign blogger for the harm she was doing.

You know you’re in trouble when you start dragging down the reputation of a personal injury attorney.

Marcotte was downright Dixie Chick-ish in crying “censorship!”

There are plenty of open venues from which to vent her spleen. She has not been jailed or fined or in any way silenced. Marcotte has simply lost her bully pulpit. Her blog, Pandagon, is still up and running. She went back to blaming the far right “wingnut Christofascist[s]” for her humiliation, without noticing that some of her strongest critics were from the left end of the political spectrum. She blamed her troubles on those who pointed out the offensive statements she had made. Marcotte has only herself to blame.

A worse part of this mess was how long it took for John Edwards to recognize he had a problem, and do something about it. His team hired a bigot, and it was a week before it came to the public’s attention. Only when it looked as though it would cost him the support of the liberal Christians did he act to clean up his house. That does not speak well for him. It says not only that he was of the mistaken belief that bigotry, when it’s from the left, is “edgy” and hip, but that, when that bigotry was pointed out for the ugly thing that it was, he was reluctant to do more than “tsk-tsk” and let her continue her ugly ways -- for the sake of his campaign.

Worst of all, considering how so many of the members of the left still seem to feel it was Marcotte who was wronged, there may be a real problem within the Democratic party. If they cannot recognize and cannot purge this sort of disgusting bigotry from their own ranks, it bodes ill for the future of civility, in campaigns, in blogging, and in general.


*okay, three in total, here, here and here, but who's counting?




Recommended reading:

Michelle Malkin: Edwards' blogger resigns.
Ed Morrissey: Marcotte Quits, Sun To Rise In East In The Morning
Howard Kurtz: A Blogger for Edwards Resigns After Complaints.

And, on the second blogger resignation, of Melissa McEwan: Daniel Glover at Beltway Blogroll: Edwards Bloggers: And Then There Were None


and Iowahawk: oh, heck, just read Iowahawk in general, including his archives (right sidebar, way down). But don't do it with food or drink in your mouth. (Strong -- but very funny, in context -- language warning.)

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