The Marcotte Brou-ha-ha

Ken AshfordElection 20081 Comment

Last week, I noted in passing that the Edwards campaign had tapped Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon to assist in his presidential campaign, as his "Blogmaster" in charge of internet outreach.  He also hired Melissa McEwen of Shakespeare’s Sister for the same purpose.

I’m an avid reader of both blogs, and have corresponded with Ms. McEwen a few times.  Both writers are inciteful, passionate, and devoted to their causes.  I haven’t come close to supporting any candidate for President, but it struck me that Edwards’ movement to address the netroots was saavy.  This new internet thingee has the potential — more so than ever — to shape the campaign and presidency, and Edwards was smart to climb aboard and get himself some class A material (with sizable audiences) early on.

But a week later, there is more to the story.  Both Amanda and Melissa have been blogging daily for quite a while, and the right wing smear machine has set its sites on them.  In a rather silly attempt to undermine Edwards’ campaign, they have decided to swiftboat both bloggers by highlighting some of their less temperate comments.

The rightwing attacks on Marcotte are everywhere:  Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt’s TownHall Blog, Patterico’s Pontifications, QandO, Right Wing Nut House, Althouse, Confederate Yankee, Little Green Footballs, and Vox Popoli, to name a few.  They are especially ugly.

What’s their beef with Amanda?  Well, it seems that she uses (get the fainting couch!) four-letter words on her blog.  Some of her posts are quite passionate and pull no punches when she expressed her disdain for organizations (some of them religious) who engage in bashing women, gays, etc.  Even them, you really have to cherry pick through the years of Amanda’s writings to find these posts, and that’s just what the wingnuts have done.

So in other words, Amanda is a blogger who occasionally writes in the no-holds-barred language of bloggers.

For such "sins", the rightwing smear machine is now calling on Edwards to fire Amanda and Melissa.  The swarm around them has grown so large that it has now made it to the mainstream media.  The New York Times, even…

Edwards’s Bloggers Cross the Line, Critic Says

Two bloggers hired by John Edwards to reach out to liberals in the online world have landed his presidential campaign in hot water for doing what bloggers do — expressing their opinions in provocative and often crude language.

The Catholic League, a conservative religious group, is demanding that Mr. Edwards dismiss the two, Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog site and Melissa McEwan, who writes on her blog, Shakespeare’s Sister, for expressing anti-Catholic opinions.

Mr. Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, is among the leading Democratic presidential candidates.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement on Tuesday, “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”

I think this is faux outrage.  (Amanda, for her part, reminds people that — although she is not a Catholic herself — the last presidential candidate that she voted for was a Catholic, and she graduated from a Catholic university).

Glenn Greenwald (like everybody else) joins in the fray, and openly asks why the rightwing was so silent when it comes to bloggers who work on McCain’s campaign.

My question to the now-outraged right who are piling on Marcotte is much more simple.  How can you attack the "vulgar" Marcotte (who after all, isn’t actually running for office herself?), and have remained so silent about this?


UPDATE:  Salon is reporting that Marcotte and McEwen have been fired from the Edwards campaign…. maybe (click through the ad for the full story):

The right-wing blogosphere has gotten its scalps — John Edwards has fired the two controversial bloggers he recently hired to do liberal blogger outreach, Salon has learned.

If this is true, then Edwards may have lost my vote.  I don’t think bowing to swiftboating tactics is something Edwards — or any Dem candidate — should be doing.  It only encourages them

But wait, there’s more….

Speculation from sources that the two bloggers might be rehired was bolstered by Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, who said in an e-mail that she would "caution [Salon] against reporting that they have been fired. We will have something to say later."


The Salon article notes (as I did) the hypocrisy of Marcotte and McEwen’s attackers:

Leading the charge against Marcotte — and to a lesser extent McEwan — have been bloggers like the National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez and Michelle Malkin…

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. The liberal press watchdog Media Matters has also noted Donohue’s long list of controversial statements.