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February 08, 2007

Comments

I think Edwards should say something like, "I strongly disapprove of some of the things Ms Marcotte has written. She and I agree it was a mistake for my campaign to hire her and she has agreed to resign. I'm tightening up my staff vetting procedures. I've reviewed the accusations against McEwan and find them scurrilous. I hope she is willing to continue to work for me despite the recent controversy; those attacking her have no honor. It has come to my attention that more serious questions have been raised about similar staffers in Sen. McCain's (and other Rs?) campaign(s); I call on him (them) to be as forthright and clear about his (their) values as I have been."

Well, I don't know if that would be the best course politically, but it's what I'd like to see him say.

I don't know if Marcotte is a good match for Edwards or not. I'm not sure that's what's important here. People make mistakes.

IMO the issue, for Edwards, has little to do with Marcotte. The issue has to do with whether he can handle himself in the knifefight that modern politics has become. Or, perhaps, has always been.

This is actually a very important issue, because if Michelle Malkin and Bill Donohue can cut you off at the knees before you've even made it into office, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting anything done should you ever actually make it to the Oval Office.

Marcotte may be a bad hire. Whether she is or not, Edwards should have been on the TV at noon today telling Malkin, Donohoe, and their ilk to pound sand. He did not do so.

No clear statement equals an equivocal statement. The longer a clear statement is not made, the more equivocal any statement will be, no matter how clear its language, when it is finally issued.

An equivocal statement, for whatever reason it's equivocal, is blood in the water. It's an invitation for the hyenas to pounce. And, pounce they will.

It's not enough to have good ideas. If what you want to do is come up with good ideas, you should get a job in a think tank. If you want to be President of the US, you have to be able to *turn good ideas into actual policies, implemented in the real world*.

If a couple of pundits can make you second guess your blogmaster hire, you're likely not the person to make that happen.

The noise is about Marcotte. The story is about Edwards. By my lights, he's got maybe another 24 hours to reframe this issue on his own terms. If he can't do that, he's not the guy, regardless of how good his ideas are.

Thanks -

Sometimes I Almost Feel Like a Human Being ...ilyka at Pandagon says a couple of neat things:

"Bloggers are not a new species. They (WE) are nothing special, nothing strange, nothing unknown. BLOGGERS ARE PEOPLE. It’s just been so long since real people’s voices were actually represented in media or politics that when you begin hearing them, they sound so—ew—so…human! I mean, they take STRONG stands n shit! They actually let themselves get eMOTIONal about war and human suffering and stuff. Surely not glossy enough, not powdered, puffed, sanitized, fumigated, or fluffed enough!" ...actually this is a quote from a commenter, "nezua"

"I want more of that in political discourse, not less. More human beings, fewer abstractions. I want people to quit thinking of politics as something they gave up after their last civics class, whenever that was; and I want them to start interacting with their leaders, their governments, and their communities in a more passionate, human way."
...this is ilyka

Well, read the rest if you want to.

I tend to agree with bob. I'm wondering if Edwards came out and said something like:

'We hired Marcotte and McEwan because they have strong opinions and they are not afraid to voice those opinions. While I don't agree with everything they say, I think it is vital for the health of this country to begin having strong opinions expressed as part of a campaign and part of an ongoing dialogue rather than both the pablum that currently stands in place of it and the attempts to prevent discussion on vital issues that affect us, our children and the world. We are not going to ask for their resignations and we will not accept them if they are offered. I don't agree with everything they have written, but this is a democratic campaign, not a republican campaign, and we _will_ have a diversity of voices here'

What the Marcotte hire shows is that Edwards, like others, doesn’t really take the Internet side of the campaign seriously yet.

Actually, what I thought was that hiring two well-known, outspoken bloggers who can write up a storm showed that Edwards did take the Internet side of the campaign seriously.

But, if Edwards fires either or both of the bloggers for what they wrote before he hired them, then that shows that he didn't take the Internet side of the campaign seriously enough to have the hires for it vetted.

Plus, I don't know about Melissa's standing, but firing Amanda is going to be hellishly expensive. I don't mean metaphorically - that's equally true for both of them. I mean literally. If Edwards fires Amanda, Amanda gave up her current well-paying job to move states to work for Edwards. If her previous job will take her back right away, that might not be as expensive, but if she loses her previous job too, and was fired for something Amanda wrote that any reasonable lawyer would point out that Edwards should have known about before he hired her, it's going to cost Edwards' big.

The metaphorical cost of firing both of them would be high, too, but at least on that side the two bloggers can tell themselves they didn't spend two years campaigning for a loser.

Seriously, who gives a flying fuck what Michelle Malkin and Bill Donahue think? These people have said and advocated far worse, more obscene things than anything Marcotte has ever thought. The only proper response to them is a rhetorical punch in the mouth, not a kowtow. If Edwards backs down because of this, I've lost all respect for him.

Jes, you might want to leave off practicing American employment law.

But, if Edwards fires either or both of the bloggers for what they wrote before he hired them, then that shows that he didn't take the Internet side of the campaign seriously enough to have the hires for it vetted.

i think he's already shown that. there is no way they'd be panicking now, if they'd vetted her properly in the first place. if the campaign knew about Marcotte's, umm, edgy, style and content in the beginning, then this issue now would be the simple matter of telling reporters the reasons they found it was OK to hire her, then.

so, either they didn't vet her, and all of this is a surprise. or they did, but misjudged the reaction her writings would cause when they inevitably showed up in the press.

he needs to dump her, immediately. there's nothing to be gained from having to defend this:

    What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit? A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.

...in the national press for the next year.

i gotta say, i'm really puzzled by the people who think Edwards firing Marcotte sends a worse signal than having that text, and others like it, appear during every Edwards interview and anti-Edwards hit-piece from now until he drops out.

hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit

who the fnck wants to have to defend that ? don't liberals have enough trouble in the religion category ?

Steve Benen kicks this whole issue right in the nads.

Charley: Jes, you might want to leave off practicing American employment law.

You're right, of course: I'm saying what would be true in the UK, and in the US, as I understand it, workers have far fewer rights.

cleek: i gotta say, i'm really puzzled by the people who think Edwards firing Marcotte sends a worse signal than having that text, and others like it, appear during every Edwards interview and anti-Edwards hit-piece from now until he drops out.

Well, it will anyway. It's not as if giving the right-wing what they want means they stop attacking you.

Publius: Really good post. Very little I would quibble with here in your analysis. I disagree with your conclusion. I think he needs to cut her loose, but they don't exactly ask me for advice.

Also – what cleek said.

Cleek, I think that one reason the RW noise machine has been so successful is precisely because of that dynamic, so that democratic candidates are neutered and this seems like a good place to draw a line in the sand. If the Repubs spend all their money putting ads with Donahue, I think it will turn around and bite them (I hope)

I think this whole thing resonates with something about NRO that Gary referred to in an earlier thread: what you write about follows you around. If you say reprehensible things, someday those reprehensible things will resurface, and you'll have to acknowledge them or repudiate them. Amanda erased them, or at least some of them.

That aside, the issue of whether Amanda was a suitable hire for blogmistress is worthy of attention. If Edwards hired Amanda to blog about the campaign, he certainly could have picked someone whose opinions are a bit less biting, and a bit less broadly offensive.

So, I'm thinking it's just bad judgement on Edwards' part. Perhaps not fatally bad, but he just might have pissed off goodly chunks of the left, center and right all in one week.

Well, it will anyway. It's not as if giving the right-wing what they want means they stop attacking you.

i believe if Edwards can get out there and do a convincing apology dance, the press will lose interest. of course the right will attack over this as long as they can, but if the press isn't interested in helping them, it will wither. as a famous writer once wrote "news cycles don’t last".

this seems like a good place to draw a line in the sand

a line drawn with the hot, sticky, sperm of God?

Well, it is stringy...

BTW, Memeorandum doesn't catch even half of the blogospheric responses. I tried to assemble some links here, but I am limiting it to the Left side of the blogosphere which is,I'd say, surprisingly united. I hope Internet-savvyy people in the campaign are sitting down the dinosaur internet-illiterate people in the campaign at a computer and making them read all hte posts and comments, while reminding them that bloggers are not Aliens, but people, voters, Democrats and activists - the same people who go to Iowa to knock on doors in January.

I am going to agree with russell -- this is a situation which will show Edwards' strength of character. The difference between being a lawyer and being a candidate is that as a lawyer, the case ultimately is not about you. He could go home each night knowing that if he loses, the worst that will happen is that he don't get his contingency fee, whereas his client is the one who will end up with the far graver consequences.

I have several times in the past indicated that I liked what I saw about Edwards, and hoped to be able to vote for him next spring, when Pennsylvania finally has its primary. And even if Edwards decides to fire the two bloggers, I will still feel he has the best handle on the country's problems, and great ideas on how to solve them.

But I will need to re-think whether he will have the strength to fight for his ideas when the going gets tough, and if not whether I can support a candidate who won't do so.

lj: I tend to agree with bob. I'm wondering if Edwards came out and said something like [...]

I think this captures the whole ordeal perfectly. Edwards made a choice, and I am hoping that he did his research rather than picking the name of a random prominent blogger out of a hat. If he made this choice because he values something about Marcotte, then he should not let her go because the right wing is making a lot of noise about it.

Like lj indicated, you do not have to agree with everything your employees say or think. He can make note of that and come off clean, I think: tell us that while he doesn't agree with everything Marcotte has written, she has a spirit to her writing that he thought would be a great addition to her campaign, and he will not back down because of a little bit of noise. He strongly believes he made a good choice, and thus far she has written nothing so scandalous for his campaign, has she? ... No? Right then. She is a smart and talented writer, she knows the bounds between professional and personal, and it would be quite a loss if he let her go, and so he's not going to.

At least, that's what I hope he'll say, if anything. I would be severely disappointed if he let Marcotte and McEwan go, and much less enthusiastic about his campaign.

We'll see how things turn out by this weekend, whether he issues a statement or the furor dies down...

I'll also note: I think it is very important that a presidential candidate know how to admit mistakes. However, I do not want that candidate to back down every time someone else thinks he made a mistake. A leader has to use his good judgment day to day. If he strongly believes he made a good choice, if he has consulted people close to him, considered the will of his constituents, and analyzed the situation for himself, and still believes he made the right choice, I do not want to see him take it back just to please others.

What I want, if someone is going to admit their mistakes and try to account for them, is for them to make sure they really believe they made a mistake. A good leader will be considerate of the needs and desires of those he is leading, and that will factor into his decision, but not make it for him...

I'm not sure I can make my point any clearer, so I'll stop now -- I could have quite a lot of faith built up in Edwards depending on the choice he makes now, and more importantly how he explains himself. We will see if he has the qualities essential to good leadership or whether he will bend in the slightest of wind.

... I also think, regardless of US law, it would be a [crappy] thing to do to hire Marcotte, who quit her job and started packing up to move however-many miles, and then fire her days later. I don't think he has any legal obligations to her, but on a more personal, moral level, he certainly has a responsibility to her, and I would hope that if he lets her go, he's proactive (uh oh, buzzword) in making sure she gets settled back into her old life.

One thing I haven’t seen touched on much. Edwards included religion and spoke about his faith frequently in his VP bid. Since announcing his presidential bid, he has had plenty to say about it. Many of his campaign stops have been at churches. All the candidates have been speaking about faith, religious tolerance, etc. Democrats are trying to gain some traction on the issues of “moral values”, etc.

From his website:
Edwards said he grew up in a Southern Baptist home and prays daily.
"I embrace faith, and I believe America should embrace all faiths and those who don't have faith.
If we are multicultural and multifaith than we ought to embrace all faiths," Edwards said. "Faith is not a political tool."

All you really have to do post that side by side with her “What if Mary had taken Plan B…” remark.

I’m sure there is some rule in politics about not handing your opponent a 2x4 to repeatably smack you in the head with.

Steve you really think people should be forever barred from employment because they tell a dirty joke that a lot of people find offensive? She's his freaking blogger and it was written before she joined the campaign. I love how a one liner is more "out of the mainstream" than a book length defense of internment camps (dishonestly researched at that)...to say nothing of the quotes I could pull from actual government officials such as the Vice President of the United States (and I'm not thinking of the go f*ck yourself comment.)

Speaking just for myself, because that's all I can speak for, I don't think Edwards should have fired her just because I don't happen to care for her opinions. I also don't think he should have hired her in the first place, but I'm repeating myself.

Democrats are trying to gain some traction on the issues of “moral values”, etc.

See, this is what I would have thought - and now I am coming close to commenting on a campaign in the primaries - was so cool about hiring Amanda Marcotte in particular (I read her more regularly than Shakespeare's Sister, because Shakesblog takes forever to load). They've both got traction on moral values, but without thinking that having traction on moral values means being anti-feminist, anti-gay, pro-Christian Right, which is what the Republicans routinely claim is what "moral values" means. Accepting the Republican definition of "moral values" and trying to match up with it is a losing game: better to declare what moral values you say are important, and stick by them.

The Republicans can take the position that their moral values require them to be against freedom of speech and freedom of religion: that leaves a wide field open for a Democratic politician to have distinctively different moral values.

I also think, regardless of US law, it would be a [crappy] thing to do to hire Marcotte, who quit her job and started packing up to move however-many miles, and then fire her days later.

i definitely agree with that (and the rest of your post). as much as i disagree with Marcotte as a blogger, i don't really enjoy the fact that what i'm arguing Edwards should do could really put her in a lousy situation. on a personal level, that sucks.

"Jes, you might want to leave off practicing American employment law."

Speaking as some one who does, on occasion, practice American employment law, what he said doesn't seem that far off the mark . . .

I agree with cleek! The stars are definitely lining up...

Edwards made a choice, and I am hoping that he did his research rather than picking the name of a random prominent blogger out of a hat.

Those of you who are familier with the Edwards phenom. know that Elizabeth Edwards is a *very* enthusiastic participant in the blogosphere and has been for many years. No names were 'drawn out of a hat', believe me.

I can see both sides of this, but I have to come down on the side of publius. Edwards shouldn't fire anyone. The story (or 'story') could go away, except for people like Donahue, et. al. wanting to bring up stuff like 'hot, white, sticky holy spirit'. Let them. Edwards is not going to get the votes of their audience anyway.

The real problem here is the so-called netroots - people so hair-trigger intolerant and rigid that *they* are the ones who will keep the 'issue' alive. Without them, this would be just another squib from the loonies. Marcotte is a webmaster, not a 'senior advisor'.

Rea, Jes is female.

I don't know what kind of arrangement ms. Marcotte has with the campaign, but I'd be (pleasantly) surprised if it was other than 'at will.' I also don't know NC employment law, but wouldn't be surprised if it was fairly employer friendly. It ain't the Virgin Islands.

So unless she can make out a case for discharge due to membership in a protected class -- and I'm not seeing that -- all she'd have (assuming that NC law is 'normal' for the US) is the public policy exception to the at will doctrine. And I don't see that either.

I would guess that under the law, a campaign staffer who becomes an issue for a candidate can be let go. Why do you think it might be otherwise?

I don't think he should fire her, btw, as noted on the other thread.

Those of you who are familier with the Edwards phenom. know that Elizabeth Edwards is a *very* enthusiastic participant in the blogosphere and has been for many years. No names were 'drawn out of a hat', believe me.

Thanks, jonnybutter I was really wondering if I just imagined her participation when no one else mentioned it.

Steve you really think people should be forever barred from employment because they tell a dirty joke that a lot of people find offensive?

Not at all. I’m looking at it from the perspective of running a presidential campaign. If you are speaking at churches, and including remarks about faith and religious tolerance in your stump speeches, and all the other candidates are talking along a similar line – then hiring/keeping an employee with a public record of being vehemently anti-Catholic just makes little sense.

This isn’t about being barred from employment – it’s about being barred from being a public face of a campaign when you are on the record as being almost violently against a plank in the platform of that campaign.

This is not going to be a 2 day news cycle. If he keeps her it will haunt him through the primaries. Forget about the RW Noise Machine. His fellow Democrats will use it against him every step of the way. It will be used against him in the primaries.

I don’t want him to be elected anyway – so I think I’ll just shut up now.

That's not what "vehemently anti-Catholic" looks like and with all due respect, I don't think you're analyzing the likely response of other Democrats or primary voters very well.

As others have observed already, OCSteve, if the opinions expressed in those two posts (and others) make Amanda Marcotte "vehemently anti-Catholic", most American Catholics are vehemently anti-Catholic... and that makes no sense.

Having slept on it, what I'm left with is the feeling that this is just very, very sad.

A few days ago, Edwards was a really interesting candidate, and Amanda and Shakes were really interesting bloggers. Now, almost whatever happens, Edwards looks a lot less good to me. Amanda and Shakes might lose their jobs, and will certainly continue to work under some sort of cloud if they continue to work for Edwards at all; in either case, not only will things go worse for them, but it's hard to see how this won't end up doing something bad to their writing -- either some form of self-censorship or, conversely, the kind of 'oh to hell with it, I won't be shut up!' reaction that is still, in its own way, a loss of balance.

So, while something might happen that surprises me, I think we might lose one good candidate and two good bloggers.

I don't mean, here, to be making it sound as though all of this just somehow happened, without anyone being at fault. It's just that, right now, I feel less blame-y than sad.

(And we still don't know what's going to happen. What's up with that?)

. What I’m getting at is that, in the context of a presidential campaign, she should have said, “Look, I wrote some things that you should be aware of.” Maybe she did, I don’t know.

Jeeeeez. Can we get off the "she shares some of the blame" crap when you admit you don't know how she conducted herself during the process of hiring?

That is an irresponsible claim, even with your technical caveat.

I have an idea -- why don't you ASK HER before piling on?

If Edwards *does* fire her, he should hire her to do something else for the campaign ... monitor blogs, say.

And firing McEwan is just Bill-Clintonesque in the extreme.

OTOH, if the blogosphere's mysterious love affair with John Edwards comes to an end, that could be the silver lining.

Now, almost whatever happens, Edwards looks a lot less good to me.

My comment on "blogospheric love affair" crossed w/ Hilzoy's, but I take hers as important confirmation of my views! ;)

Kjære vene, da..

What is your point, publius? That an indeterminable force of indecisiveness around the campaign should, spell the doom for Edwards? That because there is a ghostly reminiscence of fear around the edges, of which none of the voting masses knows the reason for, the campaign should tank?

And this all because wise&responsible (and not shrill and mad) commenters like yourself cannot be bothered to have a goddamn opinion without qualifying it through what you believe "the stupid&uninformed voters"(tm) will "believe".

And what, for instance, about the "Iran beligerence" on Edwards' part lately? Will that be a matter of political anxiety towards the masses as well? Because of the lack of crystal- clear course, perhaps, or because it is another sign of this fear and insecurity insinuating itself around the campaign?

In the same vein, don't you think the slightly meek demeanor and primarily searching attitude Edwards has had lately gives off an impression of weakness? Surely this kind of unpresidential behaviour does not satisfy your inner narcissistic tendencies?

Surely your "feeling" about the campaign is the most important part, eh?

Honestly - you guys don't need politicians, you need shrinks. You want strong leaders to tell you what to think, but not in a direct fashion. Oh no, you need to cushion it in a mixture of opportunism and elliptic conceptualism designed to clear you of any responsibility.

But I agree, this episode should touch a lot of commenters personally. Because it's about what you envision politicians to actually do and respond to.

And this is the key, ladies and gentlemen, to understand why the Rove- camp did so well: they have discovered that personality and perception of leadership sells better than actual leadership.

Trite point, of course, but the why of how this incident has taken off is to be found there. And it is this - the disconnect between actual opinion, and the expression of those issues. And in the case of the democrats, the issue is what, in particular, the wise&responsible response towards republican discontent is. How do you express that.

Do you say this is clear language, or do you skirt around it by competing for the metaphors of your opponent?

Do you write your opinion, or do you write about what others' opinion is?

Do you aknowledge people's opinions, or do you just not have the stomach to handle the furious stupidity of it all - and instead seek refuge in glorious wise&responsible analysis?

I'm just asking, but I'll say this: you get the politicians you deserve, and you bloody well should've learned something by now.

I think that it is really really important that Democrats who seek leadeship positions stop letting thhemselvesbe nfluenced by whhat the righhtwinng says. you can't be a leader if you ae afraid of thhe people who wwon't vote for you anyway.

The figthht is for thhe votes of thhe middle. People in the mmiddle tennd to be less issue oriennted annd more responisve to perceied character. the righht winng knnows this and onne of thhe primary goals of the Noise Macinneis to make Demorats ollk weak so people in thhe mmiddle, long after thhey have forgotten any inndividual righhtwinng attack, will have a vague immpression of a Democrat who was weak.
The politically smart thhing for Edwardsto hhave done was to have annouced thhat he was keepinng his two blogggers, followed by and attack on that Donohue charcter and McClainn for thhe badstaffer he hired. Take thhe fighht to themm. Never apologize. I a few weeks no onne except a few righht bloggers will remember a thinga abouut marcotte but everyone whill remember thhat Edwards came out swinginng.
If Edwards can't do that than hhe will campaignn like kerry anndwe don't nneed that.


The real issue hhere, to my minnd, isn't that marcotte said some offensive thingsabouut thhe Catholic church. The real issue is thhat thhe righhtwing hhas a well -greased efffective means of using thhe mmedia for bullinng annd inntimidation annd thhe Democrats need to stop being bullied annd inntimidated. period.
The merits of this particular situation are not relevant. It's no different than thhe faux outrage over Pelosi annd the planne, the "madrassa", Durbinn's commennt about people who torture, Kerry's botched joke, the Swift Boat Liars, or anny of the otherr times thhe righht ahs tried to whip up an irrelavnnt storm of nastiness.
Please excuse the morass of typos. i shouldn't have started this rant because I've got to get dressed and run now.

With all due respect to Hilzoy - a lot is due, AFAIC - I think this is over the top:

I think we might lose one good candidate and two good bloggers.

First of all, look at the construction: 'candidate' looks equal to 'bloggers'. It is pure insanity to 'lose' a good candidate over this, and I'll bet both of the bloggers in question would agree with that. Second of all, this wouldn't be anything more than another gob of tobacco juice if the left 'sphere wasn't so atwitter about it. Of course there is nothing wrong with taking/blogging about it - that's what we do. But...get a grip, people.

H. Haller: I don't think my views about Edwards are part of any "blogospheric love affair". More like: well, if Obama somehow flames out and Clark doesn't catch on, then I'll have to find someone else, which could happen in any case (e.g., if suddenly Tom Vilsack does something spectacularly impressive), but failing that, Edwards seems like someone I might get behind, if push came to shove.

I mean: I think it's very, very important that someone, somewhere, is making poverty his central issue. And while various candidates care about it, Edwards is the one who is building his campaign around it. That matters.

On the other hand, even before the Iran comments, I didn't see much there there on foreign policy, and that matters too. It would be tempting to call this 'inexperience', were it not for the fact that, well, that's not the main thing. Someone can not have a lot of experience in the State Department or the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and still have both deep knowledge and sound judgment; these, plus an ability to consult with other people who know more than you do, and to listen to them and ask good questions and assess what they have to say, will get a person a long way.

(I mean: do the people who write for American Footprints have more "foreign policy experience" than Jonah Goldberg? Not (afaik) in the sense that would be picked up in a campaign. But that in no way means that they and Jonah G. are on a par.)

It's that that I've been missing in Edwards, on foreign policy.

And we still don't know what's going to happen. What's up with that?

Blind guessing from the other side of the Pacific, EE strongly felt that m&m were people the campaign should hire and JE is not as convinced and negotiating those sides might lead to the paralysis. I guess I've been watching too many White House reruns...

jonnybutter: I should probably have said: I will lose one good candidate, in the sense that while I might be wrong, I suspect that my view of Edwards will not survive undiminished.

lj: that was also my (wild, unsupported, evidence-free) speculation. It would explain why this issue seems to be hard for the campaign to resolve.

I hasten to add that I don't mean to undervalue the independence and candor of good bloggers (I'm speaking more of Shakes., who I, too, am more familier with than Marcotte). But joining a campaign isn't something anyone forced them to do.

H. Haller: I don't think my views about Edwards are part of any "blogospheric love affair".

True in your case, hence the emoticon. If they *were,*, no irony would've been needed.

However, I think it's fair to say that a good bit of Left Blogovia has been Edwards-philic, for no good reason other than his ability to sound deeply committed to whatever admirable position he happens to be enunciating.

I would also add that if you're going to make poverty your *central* issue, then wait to build your $$$ mansion until *after* the election. I am beginning to suspect a certain lack of political savvy on JE's part. Perhaps I am mistaken.

Good post, P. Some of the commentors need to take your advice re: news cycles to heart.

This is a play the right-wing blogs will be happy to run again and again and again if they see that it works.

I think it's fair to say that a good bit of Left Blogovia has been Edwards-philic, for no good reason other than his ability to sound deeply committed to whatever admirable position he happens to be enunciating.

I would argue the exact opposite. Left Blogovia has been remarkably skeptical about Edwards - it's almost a tic (publius can't support him because he's...wait for it...cheesy). Lucky for you guys on the right, many progressives and Democrats in this country just don't trust skilled politicians from their own side. If a dem isn't boring and mediocre, there must be something 'wrong' with them. You guys on the right don't have that problem - your problem is rather the other extreme; and the two are related, of course. Dems tend to be stuck in the stupid feedback loop of just reacting - in a literal way - to what the other side does. ho hum.

I would also add that if you're going to make poverty your *central* issue, then wait to build your $$$ mansion until *after* the election. I am beginning to suspect a certain lack of political savvy on JE's part. Perhaps I am mistaken.

Yes, you are mistaken. Your argument is anti-conservative and anti-Republican. Edwards already had a mansion - more than one. He's rich, and he earned it. From the true hypocrite's POV, I see the difference it would make if he built a mansion *after* he was elected ('if you can't be good, be careful!'). Perhaps he should buy a ranch?

I pick on H. Haller's comment only to make a point: the GOP doesn't want to run against either Edwards or Obama, and they definitely see Edwards as a threat. And they have allies on the left, always. They have psyched us out a little - and it's not because they're geniuses, but because we're so obvious. All the nutball (Donohue) has to do is insinuate: then progressives flesh it all out. For bloggers, it's not a manufactured issue, as publius and others have noted. But other than that, it's just crap.

Katherine: I don't think you're analyzing the likely response of other Democrats or primary voters very well.

My political advice is worth every dime the DNC pays me for it :)

Just my opinion. The press is in love with Obama right now. Did you catch this love letter yesterday?

IMO, their backing away from HRC, starting to report her negatives a little more. Now they picked this up pretty fast.

Right now, Obama is the man. There is plenty of time for that to change, it’s just the dynamic I see right now.

That and $1.50…

OCSteve, they've been inexplicably in love with McCain for years (and still seem to be), so it's only fair that someone else gets a share for a while.

Left Blogovia has been remarkably skeptical about Edwards

We slum in different dives, perhaps.

Perhaps he should buy a ranch?

Anyone who thinks Dubya cares a rat's ass about the poor, isn't in play for the Dems in any event.

"So, while something might happen that surprises me, I think we might lose one good candidate and two good bloggers."

This seems odd. You aren't going to lose two bloggers. The worst that is likely to happen to them is that they go back to their blogs and are more popular than ever.

As for one good candidate, either this situation exposes something important about Edwards or it doesn't. If it exposed something you feel is important enough, it is better that we know now. If it did not expose anything important, I strongly doubt that Edwards will lose over this. It is almost two years before the election and this is a trivial matter over that time span. The only way you lose a candidate is if a large enough number of people who support Marcotte decide that this incident reveals something about Edwards that influences them to not vote for him. And that is back to situation number one.

Seb: I meant: it's hard for me to see how this doesn't affect their goodness as bloggers, either through self-censorship or through the opposite. Maybe less true for Shakes.

Sebastian, you're probably right, but you're ignoring the possibility that people might decide it reveals something about Edwards that is not in fact true, in which case we'd lose a candidate over something that really wasn't important. You're also ignoring the role of the media in these frenzies.

I just think it's quite instructive as to how the "sensible left" is unwittingly a useful tool in the workshop of the right's idle hands.

This whole issue is nothing more than the whole "shall we be gentlemen or fighters" debate writ large.

Guess who won.

TPM just put up a statement from Edwards and the bloggers ...
Edwards says he was "personally offended" by some of the posts. He comes off sounding like he hadn't read them before he hired them, which doesn't look good to me.

It's a two-fer for the right.

Congratulations, y'all! Good to see that good sense and careful manners are the foundation of a good society.

Hal, seems to me the "sensible left" and the "fighters" were both tools of the right this time.

I thought the statements, and the resolution, were as good as we could have hoped for.

KCinDC, how were the fighters tools? This was a fake problem blown up by Malkin who even admitted it was fake, propped up by the sensible left who disagreed with the bloggers in question and fanned the fake story. They got played.

The fighters? As far as I can tell, the only problem they had was joining Edwards' campaign when they thought everything was cool

Without the support of the sensible left, this would have went nowhere. They could have simply not read their blog posts if they didn't agree with them. BFD.

What's missing in all of this is defining exactly what Marcotte has been hired to do. If her role will involve her to a significant degree in defining Edwards' message, then her prior message taints his. If not, then her prior writing is basically irrelevant and has no meaning to his campaign.

I honestly am unsure of the role she was intended to fill in the campaign (and it may be undefined because no one knows what an internet coordinator is supposed to do). But I think the key judgment about this turns on this question.

The smartest move is to keep her but make it clear that her role does not have anything to do with defining Edwards' message; i.e., she is needed for certain talents, and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but he prior writings do not speak for the Edwards campaign. That may already be the case, or it may reflect an implied demotion in the role that she may have had absent the flap.

If the intent was to add her voice as an adjunct to the campaign's overall message, then they made a serious mistake. I like her writings, but it is kind of like hiring Lenny Bruce to be your spokesperson.

"Sebastian, you're probably right, but you're ignoring the possibility that people might decide it reveals something about Edwards that is not in fact true, in which case we'd lose a candidate over something that really wasn't important. You're also ignoring the role of the media in these frenzies."

Which 'people' are you talking about in the first sentence? For purposes of this controversy there are four types of people (listed in descending order of importance from the point of view of the Edwards campaign) Non-blog interested Democratic primary voters, non-blog interested general election voters who might conceivably vote for a Democrat, blog-interested voters who might vote for a Democrat, people (blog interested or not) who won't vote for a Democrat. This controversy is not important enough to have anything to do with the first two groups. The fourth group isn't a group that is politically important to Edwards. That just leaves the third group.

The reaction of the third group is not under the control of the fourth group, nor is it under the control of 'the media'. The third group is politically savvy enough to find their own information and make up their own minds if they want to.

The handwringing about the fourth group or the media is a huge distraction.

Just read the TPM link re Edwards' statement; I agree with hilzoy.

Sebastian, since CNN picked this up, don't the first two groups then come into play?

Just read the TPM link re Edwards' statement; I agree with hilzoy

Yes, it's probably the best we could hope for, but as the bed has already been shit upon anything that follows is less than ideal.

Still, this the first victory for those on the right. May not have been a kill, but it's a significant moral victory. And it's amazing to see how quickly the sensible left piled on and transmitted a fake story.

Again, if you disagree with the blogger, that's fine. But spreading a story by Michelle Malkin that you haven't even verified? My god, what a stupid, stupid thing to do.

"TPM just put up a statement from Edwards and the bloggers ..."

I think the fact that AP carried it, and the NY Times on the front page, is more notable, but anyway.

"Sebastian, since CNN picked this up, don't the first two groups then come into play?"

Not everything that CNN picks up is actually interesting or mind-changing to potential voters. The long term impact of this is particular issue is way too inside baseball for the non-blogging audience. So I suspect, no it doesn't bring the first two groups into play.

While I like blogging and enjoy (some) bloggers, I think this is much more likely to be filed under "They aren't thinking about you as much as you think. No, way less than that."

Without the support of the sensible left, this would have went nowhere.

that's bullsh!t.

Malkin, Goldstien, the Bros. Moran, etc., etc. made a hell of a lot of noise with no help at all from anyone on "the left".

Gary, just curious: I'm not seeing it on the front page of the NYT. Where are you seeing it?

Also, your AP link doesn't work. But anyway.

Well, I would argue that it does, as sort of a constant wearing away of the foundations. I don't know how you felt about the Kerry candidacy, but I wonder if you would argue that the attention given to him resulted in voters getting a true picture of the man or in a false one.

"BTW, Memeorandum doesn't catch even half of the blogospheric responses."

This is true; I've discussed it with the creator on a few occasions (via e-mail); there are a variety of filters.

If the blogger doesn't add enough original material to what's quoted, the post isn't listed. If the blogger includes links to too many stories on the issue, it isn't listed. And so on.

I've often blogged a story that Memeorandum has given links to dozens of blogs about, but not been linked to -- or found that if I added a couple of additional links, my post which had been linked was eliminated. Etc.

"Those of you who are familier with the Edwards phenom. know that Elizabeth Edwards is a *very* enthusiastic participant in the blogosphere and has been for many years."

People keep saying this, and it seems to have grown in the telling. I believe that she's been seen to have made as many as maybe a dozen blog comments, lifetime.

Is it more than that? Or am I mistaken that nowadays it takes all of a dozen blog comments, lifetime, to be a "*very* enthusiastic participant in the blogosphere [...] for many years"?

Hilzoy: "So, while something might happen that surprises me, I think we might lose one good candidate and two good bloggers."

That seems like a major over-reaction to me, but we'll see.

LJ: "I guess I've been watching too many White House reruns..."

I'm guessing maybe you meant "West Wing."

Sorry, that was in response to Sebastian.

The statement seems to indicate he didn't do his homework, which is disappointing, to say the least. Not the worst way this could have turned out, but not encouraging either.

GF: that's bullsh!t.

See, such an articulate and useful response.

Thanks, Gary!

This was a fake problem blown up by Malkin who even admitted it was fake, propped up by the sensible left who disagreed with the bloggers in question and fanned the fake story. They got played.

[...]

Without the support of the sensible left, this would have went nowhere.

Who is this "sensible left," and what are you talking about? How did they manipulate the NY Times and AP and the rest of the mainstream media into paying attention to Malkin and the right?

Sorry, it's called The White House (or ザ・ホワイトハウス) here in Japan and I just went with that. It is very funny to watch Bartlett and company argue in Japanese.

re EE's enthusiastic participancy: I've only caught a few comments by her, but the comments indicated that she's reading people and knew, for example, where some commentators had been to school based on comments made in previous threads. I wouldn't say enthusiastic, but she does know who's who.

Reading the statements, I give Edwards a B+ for this. He ultimately made the right decision to keep them, but he took too long. He also avoided staging a counterattack on the accusers, which may or may not be the right strategy for this point in the cycle, but will only ensure that sometime later in the campaign there will be another attempt to throw Edwards off stride with this sort of trivia.

I've seen this same rumor spread by various blogs on the left. If you really, really want, I'll provide links, but I'd rather not point fingers because some of them are friends.

But the point is, rather than a line drawn in the sand, what we have is a sensible discussion which basically supported the party line. Whether it was going to get into the NY Times and AP isn't the direct result of the sensible left, but there wasn't any unified response by the left to this whole despicable action.

Rather, we treated it - yet again - like a debate topic and fed the frenzy. No coming to the defense, rather the chin stroking and "yes, I haven't always agreed with her and think she doesn't represent my views and my, that does look bad that she scrubbed her site". This isn't an intellectual issue.

(which, by the way, it's the height of comedy to see Tac pontificate on M&M)

"Gary, just curious: I'm not seeing it on the front page of the NYT."

On the front page of the online NY Times; the story is here.

Hmm. Okay, it was under "News from AP & Reuters »," but now it's been replaced with other stories. Yes, folks, it's just that earth-shaking a piece of news. Truly, Edwards' campaign will never be the same, and all of America is talking.

Eyeroll.

The story now in the same slot is "Beauticians Give Stroke Prevention Advice."

To me it feels like the issue is larger than the particular posts by these bloggers.

The right wing noise machine (RWNM) will throw anything and everything at any candidate, no matter how inaccurate or inconsequential the accusations are. If they can't find a real issue they'll just make one up (as Kerry and Obama can attest). Being proven wrong doesn't even register with them. Kowtowing to them, to try to please some imaginary middle is not the way to go.

I can't imagine who this apology is going to assuage. The people who make these accusations couldn't care less. The people who take offense only do so because they are persuaded that they have been offended. The only way these remarks can be interpreted as hate speech is if you ignored everything that's been going on in the past few years and laser focused on this one issue, which is what such an apology does without putting it in a larger context.

This is what Digby has been talking about for months if not years. For crying out loud, the top political figures in this country, not to mention the RWNM have been calling half the population traitors for years. The right has been publishing books such as "Treason", "Godless", "Unhinged", "In defense of Internment", "Liberal Fascism", "The Enemy At Home".

It's all a game to them, trying to score points. Apologizing and defending our statements isn't going to help. It's time to stop playing the game and just call their bullshit.

"See, such an articulate and useful response.

Thanks, Gary!"

Since I didn't write what you're responding to, and thanking you for, and my name isn't "cleek," I can't say "you're welcome."

"I wouldn't say enthusiastic, but she does know who's who."

On how many blogs, with how many comments, exactly? As I asked? More than a dozen?

And "many years"?

Wait, she posts as "Bob McManus," right?

The story now in the same slot is "Beauticians Give Stroke Prevention Advice."

Gary, thank you for the chuckle, and for reminding me that I really need to get back to work.

"Rather, we treated it - yet again - like a debate topic and fed the frenzy."

What do you mean, "we"?

I specifically didn't post about this on my blog -- not once -- and I specifically announced that I wasn't going to be saying anything about my opinion of was responsible for what, or what I thought of it, or the people involved, here or elsewhere.

Feel free to use the first person, or to refer to those individuals you have in mind, but kindly do not attempt to claim that "we" all did what you did. Thanks.

On how many blogs, with how many comments, exactly? As I asked? More than a dozen?

I don't think someone has to make a splash to be conversant with what's going on and then don't have to post multipage comments to be sophisticated consumers of blogs. The bar between simply reading and actually commenting is, I think, quite different, and she has obviously crossed that one.

This is just an impression, but she didn't seem like some newbie. I can only liken it to watching someone who has just started cooking pancakes with someone who has worked as a short order cook for a while: you can tell the difference just watching them cook one pancake.

See, such an articulate and useful response.

it's as useful as ranting about some imaginary "sensible left" that somehow colluded with the wingnut right to doom some poor (apparently-)innocent blogger.

Gary,

"Feel free to use the first person, or to refer to those individuals you have in mind, but kindly do not attempt to claim that "we" all did what you did."

The grammar police will soon show up at your door. "We" is first person plural.

And if anyone gives a damn, the headline is back on the Times front page; that section works off whatever AP and Reuters have updated in the last twenty minutes, so stories come and go on that basis.

News from AP & Reuters »
White House Defends Pelosi Plane Request
12 minutes ago
U.S. Attorney: 'I Was Ordered to Resign'
15 minutes ago
Edwards' Bloggers Apologize for Comments
16 minutes ago
Iranian Cleric Warns U.S. on Attacks
17 minutes ago

Since I didn't write what you're responding to, and thanking you for, and my name isn't "cleek," I can't say "you're welcome."

Wow. Thanks!

I note with interest that Brownback's campaign has just picked up RedState's Leon Wolf, whose statement is here.

"'We' is first person plural."

Thank you for that little-known fact; yes, I meant "singular."

Still, I love how this has gone completely meta. You're right GF, there is no collective left and it's silly to keep referring to it as such. Rather we should always exhaustively list our definitions extensionally rather than intentionally.

I'll do much better in the future, thanks.

"Wow. Thanks!"

You're welcome. I'm afraid that I long ago handed over the keys to my sock-puppet, "cleek," to Liberal Japonicus, who now operates "cleek." Try complaining to him about "cleek." Also, remember that "Jesurgislac" is really Sebastian Holsclaw. And "CharleyCarp" is actually Hilzoy acting out her lawyer-philia, while "OCSteve" is Donald Johnson exploring being more conservative.

We really should post a guide to all the standard sock-puppets around here, I suppose.

It would be useful.

everything Gary just wrote is true, as always. don't contradict Gary. he knows of what he speaks, as always.

I wish I had said that.

You did say that.

I note with interest that Brownback's campaign has just picked up RedState's Leon Wolf, whose statement is here.

I'm certain extremely moderate and mainstream Leon and his writings will pass the smell test. Either at RedState, or here.

Look who Wolf's signed up with. 'Moderate and mainstream' discourse would likely have disqualified him from consideration. The religious right (ie, Brownback's constituency) doesn't grok compromise and comity.

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