February 07, 2007
Edwards, Marcotte, and McEwan
It would seem to me that the only acceptable response from the Edwards' campaign to the right's attempts to get Melissa (Shakespeare's Sister) and Amanda Marcotte fired from the is to point them to Glenn Greenwald's post on the subject and leave it at that.
Look: I thought the Edwards' campaign made a surprising choice when it picked up Amanda. She throws elbows, to say the least. And her focuses, and opinions, are not always popular in contemporary American political life. It seemed an act of bravery and conviction, though I wasn't sure what, exactly, the upside was. But the Edwards campaign chose her. They hired her. She left her blog for the position. And now they've got to defend their choice. To back down would either prove that their hiring process was incompetent and they didn't vet someone with an extensive public record, or that they'll collapse beneath even moderate pressure from rightwing professionals. Neither is a good look for the new campaign.
Again, I don't envy them the controversy. But they made their own hiring decisions. And it's an ugly precedent to let a little ripple of controversy divert them from an interesting course. If they need to respond, a counterattack digging up everything Patrick Ruffini has ever written, or Bill Donahue has ever said, or Rush Limbaugh has ever snorted, would be fine. But in the end, this will be a choice for the campaign. Who's respect do they care more about retaining? The netroots'? Or Bill Donahue's?
February 7, 2007 | Permalink
I may be out of the loop here, but is there something the Edwards campaign has done that shows they care in the slightest about this reaction?
If I were seeking the Democratic nomination, I'd WANT to be on the hitlist of every right wing blog and the source of innaccurate stories in the NYT. Few things will get you the camaderie of partisans like being in the foxholes with them.
Posted by: Tony V | Feb 7, 2007 11:27:54 AM
Well, right now I'm putting my money on Donahue. Look, politics is about getting a bunch of different people to vote for you. It is generally a good idea not to associate your campaign with a person who condescendingly refers to the lord and savior of, I don't know, 240 million americans as "Jeebus." Ms. Marcotte does more than profess her atheism, she goes out of her way to offend people. I spent about an hour going through her religous postings, and they go far beyond just atheism, they goad and pick fights with religion in a very bombastic and mean-spirited way. It's just not nice. And if you are in the habit of going out of your way to offend 80% of the population, that is fine for a blogger, but not for a campaign for president. If you can't understand this, you really need to either grow up or spend some time away from your "netroots" friends.
To analyze these things, I always look to my mother, a moderate Catholic. She voted Carter, Anderson, Mondale, Dukakis, Perot, Dole, Bush, Kerry so she is hardly a right-winger. There is NO WAY she would ever vote for Edwards if she was shown Marcotte's comments. The fact that the Edwards campaign hired her shows a serious lack of judgment. They need to dump these bloggers now, or they will face some serious and uncomfortable questions for months to come.
Posted by: Scott | Feb 7, 2007 11:38:53 AM
I don't see why the Edwards campaign should dignify this kind of crap with an official response.
Posted by: nolo | Feb 7, 2007 11:43:55 AM
If I were seeking the Democratic nomination, I'd WANT to be on the hitlist of every right wing blog and the source of innaccurate stories in the NYT.
Great, if you don't care about winning the the general.
I think Amanda's job will depend on what she does while working for Edwards. I haven't followed that, but the hints that show up here suggest she hasn't fully shifted gears yet. If she behaves as she did at pandagon, she'll probably be more of a liability than a help. If she works to be less offensive, I think she'll be fine.
Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 7, 2007 11:45:18 AM
Sadly, I think Amanda is finished.
As long as this story was confined to the blogs and mainly about naughty words and the Duke case, it wasn't going to go anywhere. Even if it did get front paged on Kos and was attracting the huge comment threads everywhere that blog-meta naval gazing exercises always get.
But now there's someone whom the MSM considers some kind of spokesman for a religion involved, even though we know he's just a wingnut group. Note that the story didn't make the Times until this became about Catholics and not Duke or bad words. The media's deference to religious sensibilities just makes it impossible for us to spin this our way. Game over.
(As people over at Greenwald's place have noted, we on the left have got to get better at taking down their bloggers and other fire-breathing frontmen when they get offical or quasi-offical jobs. If this be the way the game is played from here on out, we have no choice but to play it.
(By the way, what does Shakespeare's Sister have to do with any of this, other than guilt by association?)
Posted by: Bertie | Feb 7, 2007 12:06:07 PM
Why does the Edwards campaign need to "respond" to this exactly? They specifically brought in these bloggers to communicate with the netroots - a fairly select demographic. They aren't there to address the general populace. It's Donahue that wants to mischaracterize this and try to turn it into a story (that pretty much summarizes everything that Mr. Donahue has ever done in his public life).
I'm not Amanda's biggest fan either, but at her most abrasive she isn't nearly as ridiculous as Mr. Donahue's average performance on national television.
Posted by: sprocket | Feb 7, 2007 12:08:38 PM
From the NY Times article:
Mr. Edwards’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.
I greatly admire Amanda Marcotte and have expressed this at my blog and to her personally through email. Yes, she can be rough around the edges, but her analysis is generally spot-on.
Sanpete is right, what matters for her present job is if she is going to be able to shift gears. If the Edwards team spent even 30 seconds perusing her writing they would have seen her style. I suspect that they wanted someone like that - hiring Shakes as well pretty much proves that point. So Amanda and Shakes need to walk the tightrope between the bluntness and yes, crudity, of their previous blog writing and the more refined needs of a campaign blog.
Scott is right that Edwards needs to appeal to a wide range of people. But he will never get Donahues's support, even if he were to change his stance on issues to mirror Donahue. The reason is that despite what Donahue might personally believe, he is a professional Conservative Republican Catholic. So giving in to him on anything wins exactly zero votes.
Posted by: Stephen | Feb 7, 2007 12:09:32 PM
It is generally a good idea not to associate your campaign with a person who condescendingly refers to the lord and savior of, I don't know, 240 million americans as "Jeebus." Ms. Marcotte does more than profess her atheism, she goes out of her way to offend people. I spent about an hour going through her religous postings, and they go far beyond just atheism, they goad and pick fights with religion in a very bombastic and mean-spirited way. It's just not nice. And if you are in the habit of going out of your way to offend 80% of the population, that is fine for a blogger, but not for a campaign for president.
Marcotte believes that she can be just as crude and spew wild-eyed hate at her perceived enemies who are always groups that she has painted with a broad brush. She has never been accountable for her hate speech.
Well, now it seems the chickens have come home to roost. Maybe Kucinich could use her. He's as crazy and extreme as she is.
Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 7, 2007 12:17:08 PM
As people over at Greenwald's place have noted, we on the left have got to get better at taking down their bloggers and other fire-breathing frontmen when they get offical or quasi-offical jobs. If this be the way the game is played from here on out, we have no choice but to play it.
Sure, by all means we should copy them instead of sticking to the principles we've been arguing for. This kind of abandonment of principle seems to be more common than people are willing to notice.
Probably an appropriate apology from Amanda would have helped. My impression is that she doesn't believe in apologies, or sees some conflict with her earlier goals.
By the way, what does Shakespeare's Sister have to do with any of this, other than guilt by association?
Did you see this part of the NYT piece?
Ms. McEwan referred in her blog to President Bush’s “wingnut Christofascist base” and repeatedly used profanity in demanding that religious conservatives stop meddling with women’s reproductive and sexual rights. Multiple postings use explicit and inflammatory language on a variety of issues.
Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 7, 2007 12:24:18 PM
So giving in to him on anything wins exactly zero votes.
Not only that, but kowtowing to idiots like Donahue would do little to inspire the base or convince anybody that the Edwards campaign is prepared and willing to fight off the inevitable attacks of a general election campaign.
Surely they anticipated this. Amanda's style isn't exactly a secret.
Posted by: Royko | Feb 7, 2007 12:27:05 PM
There's no need to roll over here. And it would of course be awful precedent.
When Rush Limbaugh started becoming popular, people thought he wouldn't last because he was to outlandish. Ditto Bill O'Reilly. But it turns out that if you're willing to ride out the initial controversy, the world doesn't come to an end. Better to do this now when no one is paying attention.
Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Feb 7, 2007 12:33:14 PM
If Edwards caves on this, he's definitely dropping from his current second-place spot on my list, because as Ezra noted, it would mean that his campaign is either weak-willed or ill-informed. Donahue is useless to us and is long overdue for a kick in the teeth anyway; the few Catholics he represents are fanatics and misogynists, so it's not like they're going to be voting for anyone not of the barefoot-and-pregnant,
chastity-belt purity-ball persuasion.
And as Shakes noted, she actually graduated from Loyola University, a fine Jesuit (and therefore mostly rational) institution, and quite happily voted for a roman Catholic for president in 2004.
Posted by: latts | Feb 7, 2007 12:34:37 PM
Well, I took time out of my busy, busy day to see if I could not pour some gasoline on this fire. A few emails, a few phone calls a fax or two.
And then I had another thought. All of this publicity has brought Marcotte out of the closet and publicly exposed her for what she is. If she is denied this new job with Edwards, her old employer's now got her number. Why does that matter? Because she works for a publicly funded university supported by tax dollars and there is little doubt in her flunky job that posts were prepared and blogging done on the taxpayer's dime.
I question if she will be welcomed back after all of this.
Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 7, 2007 12:37:03 PM
Amanda's toast. Good. Sorry, but it's annoying to have the likes of her thrown in front of my face as the state of liberal beliefs, like some kind of Ward Churchill, only with a following and a more stylish wardrobe.
Still, I'll side with her in a battle with Donohue, but only because he's slightly the "worser" of two evils...and besides, Amandum will surely step in dogshit and track it into teamEdwards' house, thereby precipitating her quiet invitation to "seek other opportunities." (Presumably in places where professional immaturity and inarticulately-stated half-baked opinions are coin of the realm.)
Posted by: jimmmm | Feb 7, 2007 12:37:04 PM
Scott Lemieux at LG&M has it right. For a certain contingency out there, being a liberal is to be anti-Catholic by definition. As is being a feminist, I might add. But whatever. As Scott Lemieux also noted, if opposing Catholic teachings on issues like contraception makes you anti-Catholic, then the majority of American Catholics fit the bill.
Posted by: nolo | Feb 7, 2007 12:53:48 PM
People who think the candidates spend more time worrying about moderate voters right now than base partisans obviously never pay attention to Republican candidates.
Seriously, this is what a good politician does. You present yourself as a moderate (ill in formed independents only pay attention to you) and you get your "advisers" to be a bunch of extremists (well informed partisans care about them). This is what Bush did, and it's what Rudy "I'm not pro-life, only my judges are" Giuliani is in the process of doing.
It's also pretty much the exact opposite of Hillary Clinton.
Posted by: Tony V | Feb 7, 2007 12:53:52 PM
Wow, people really hate Amanda.
Posted by: tps12 | Feb 7, 2007 12:53:57 PM
Ms. Marcotte does more than profess her atheism, she goes out of her way to offend people. I spent about an hour going through her religous postings...
Jeebus, Scott, it looks more like you went out of your way to be offended. I, for one, believe in God, and I am not convinced of the soundness of evolutionary theory. However, I do recognize that I don't have all the answers. There are too many people in this land of the free who carry on like they do have all the answers, and some of them want us all to follow them without question. Some of these people are even trying to throw their weight around our legislature (we know they've got inordinate influence on the current executive). Sorry, Scott, but Glenn Greenwald is right. When religious folks try to use our government to force their beliefs on others (even other religious folks who worship differently), they are fair targets for criticism and verbal abuse.
Ms. Marcotte's arguably strident atheism is her business, and so far it looks like John Edwards is mature enough to trust that she'll be an adult who won't let her personal beliefs get in the way of her job. It's a shame that so many people out here in the electorate aren't that mature.
Let me put this another way, Scott. Our Savior, perhaps the second most powerful being in the universe, let himself be cursed, spit upon, tortured, and murdered because he knew it was the only way that redemption could be found even for the very people who were torturing and murdering him. Now, you're telling me that-- as his professed followers-- you and millions of others in this country are going to have a holy conniption because of one irreverent blogger? If your faith is this weak, you might have bigger problems than a few choice words on a website. I think you or anyone else who's going through so much effort to be offended by this needs to be more Christ-like and toughen up.
We live in a freaking representative republic with guaranteed free speech, for God's sake. Reactionary religious childishness helped keep Europe in the Dark Ages for a thousand years, and the Founders were aware of that. That's why they built the religious establishment proscription into our constitution. So that means Ms. Marcotte is free to rail against religion and you, Scott, are free to be offended. I suggest you (and if you are correct, 240 million other believers) focus your political energy on more earthly pursuits, lest we all fall prey to the machinations of the latter-day Pharisees.
Posted by: Church Secretary | Feb 7, 2007 12:55:52 PM
People really hate Bob Jones U too. Guess that's why other people count it as a real litmus test. It has a cost.
Posted by: Tony V | Feb 7, 2007 12:56:21 PM
This isn't--or shouldn't be--a problem for Edwards. This is a primary, and the controversy--the opposition of right-winders--only helps him with primary voters--which, I think, is one of the reason the Edwards team picked her. And by the time the General rolls around, Donahue and others will try to make Edwards pay for Marcotte's writings, but it'll be old news.
I don't think Edwards will let her go, but if he does I'll be pissed.
Posted by: david mizner | Feb 7, 2007 12:58:50 PM
"Fuck you if you can't take a joke" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. Amanda is exercising her right to free expression. Irresponsibly, but matters of taste don't count. But if a sizable number of people are disquieted by her hastily-stated views--and the task at hand, despite arguments to the contrary, is to get Edwards at least one more vote than his opponents--then Marcotte has to bear some responsibility for offending people.
It's not putting a muzzle on free speech. It's about not going out of one's way to deliberately offend a wide swath of supporters and potential supporters.
Posted by: jimmmm | Feb 7, 2007 1:00:27 PM
I think Edwards needs to hit back hard. Pointing them to Terry Moran is part of that, but so is making sure everyone knows Bill Donohue is an extremist anti-Semitic anti-gay bigot whom every decent American should ostracize. So is making clear that criticizing a church's political positions isn't bigotry. So is making the point that no campaign in the history of politics has ever been held to a standard requiring them to hire only people with all of whose opinions they agree.
Posted by: Tom Hilton | Feb 7, 2007 1:03:12 PM
Being opposed to Catholic doctrine in no way requires being offensive or less than fully accurate in your criticisms. Lemieux's line on that isn't much of a defense of Amanda's actual behavior, it's just a response to one of Donahue's lesser points.
Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 7, 2007 1:03:29 PM
> Amanda is exercising her right to
> free expression. Irresponsibly,
Ah, the old "irresponsible free speech" again.
I never can quite get a good definition of the difference between "responsible" and "irresponsible" free speech, but the Radical Right and their useful idiots seem to know it when they see it.
Posted by: Cranky Observer | Feb 7, 2007 1:12:12 PM
Cranky, it's irresponsible to needlessly offend people and wilfully misrepresent their views.
Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 7, 2007 1:15:31 PM
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