The Company You Keep

ABC’s Terry Moran notes that John Edwards is taking heat for hiring leftyblogger Amanda Marcotte whose expletive-filled rantings are hardly the sort of thing that a reputable political candidate would want to endorse. Moran asks the right questions:

At issue are Marcotte’s comments on her own blog, Pandagon (, which has staked out a prominent place in the left-wing blogosphere. It’s pretty strong stuff; her comments about other people’s faiths could well be construed as hate speech.

Questions: What, if anything, does it tell us about Edwards that he’s joined up with this blogger? Is Edwards’ association with a person who has written these things a legitimate issue for voters, as they wonder–among other things–whom he might appoint to high office if he’s elected? If a Republican candidate teamed up with a right-wing blogger who spewed this kind of venom, how would people react? Is the mere raising of this issue a kind of underhanded censorship, a way of ruling out of bounds some kinds of opinion? Are we all just going to have to get used to a more rough-and-tumble, profane, and even hate-filled public arena in the age of the blogosphere?

I think we’ll see a lot more of that as blogging goes mainstream. Predictably, the left-wing blogosphere has gone nuts over the piece.

Like it or not, Ms. Marcotte may have the right to free speech, and no one is arguing that she should be censored. However, what she says is incindiary, derogatory, and bigoted. Had she treated Islam the way she treats Catholicism, she’d be widely ostracized. Marcotte represents everything that is wrong with the lefty blogosphere — the constant profanity, the invective, the elevation of childish snark above analysis. There are only a few left-wing bloggers who do anything resembling analysis, and while some of them are good (Joshua Micah Marshall comes to mind as an example) most of them seem to carry the attitudes of high school kids who think they’re “sticking it to the Man” by dropping cluster F-bombs. For anyone who doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid already, it’s not only unpersuasive, it’s horrendously off-putting.

I think Dean Barnett is right — the Edwards team seems not to be familiar with the blogger they hired — which is their mistake. Marcotte has every right to spew her invective and play the part of a left-wing Ann Coulter all she wishes — but for a campaign to not do their due diligence and figure out what they were getting into is a rather significant error of judgment.

Like it or not, Presidential campaigns are known by the company they keep, and when they end up hiring a blogger whose singular talent is trying to be as offensive and vitriolic as possible, that sends the message that they haven’t been paying much attention. I doubt this will make much of a ripple outside the media and the blogosphere, but sooner or later this sort of thing will lead to a much wider political scandal. The question is when, and what will the repercussions be?

UPDATE: Left-wing group blog MyDD demonstrates the siege mentality of the left:

The Edwards camp faces a series simple choices right now:

  • Are you with the people who work their asses for you, or are you with right-wing extremists who hate you?
  • Are you willing to point out the double standards and hypocrisy behind this story, or will you cave to even the mildest pressure from the Republican Noise Machine?
  • Do you have any loyalty to the netroots, or was it all just sweet talk, where loyalty actually only flows uphill and shit actually only flows downhill?

Of course, to the left, everything is manipulated by sinister right-wing forces. Never mind that what Ms. Marcotte wrote would likely offend nearly everyone, including the Catholic liberal voters that any Democrat needs to win in key states. It’s all about the “Republican Noise Machine” (which apparently now includes ABC’s Terry Moran) and how they must be stopped at any costs. Everyone who doesn’t agree with them is a “right wing extremist” and compromise is impossible.

This is why, ultimately, the left-wing blogosphere is more of a liability to the Democrats than an asset. The second they start getting more mainstream attention, the more their radicalism comes to light. Ms. Marcotte’s comments are not the sort of thing that persuades anyone, and they reflect poorly on John Edwards and his campaign. And it doesn’t take a “right wing extremist” to see that.

13 thoughts on “The Company You Keep

  1. However, what she says is incindiary, derogatory, and bigoted.

    As opposed to what her main accuser has said:

    “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It’s not a secret, OK? And I’m not afraid to say it. … Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions.”


  2. So /MR, why have you christened William Donohue her main accuser?

    Jay’s and Dave Schuler’s comments apply regardless: if a blogger for a Republican candidate had said things like this about Islam, you’d condemn the candidate and the blogger would get a fatwa.

  3. “This is why, ultimately, the left-wing blogosphere is more of a liability to the Democrats than an asset. The second they start getting more mainstream attention, the more their radicalism comes to light.”

    Exactly when is this gonna happen? For nearly an entire year prior to the 2006 midterms, you warned us how Markos Moulitsas Zuniga was gonna bestow defeat upon Democratic candidates because Conrad Burns and George Allen, among others, would be able to successfully link their Democratic opponents to Kos, rendering them unelectable in their conservative states. It didn’t happen.

    The lefty blogs serve as fundraising engines for Democratic candidates, and are unlikely to ever be anything more. Since both you and the average Kossack are addicted to online political banter, you believe the average American is just as engaged. They’re not. The fact that only one in four Republicans realize that Rudy Giuliani is pro-abortion rights shows just how disengaged most people are from the “all politics all the time” world that internet bloggers on both the left and right (not to mention the talking heads on cable news who act as though the 2008 election was 21 days away instead of 21 months).

    Bottom line: it’s very unlikely that the time will come that the lefty bloggers “get more mainstream attention”, which is of course the worst-case scenario for you as they’ll continue to stealthly churn out campaign funds for liberal candidates and use it to kick you guys’ asses in elections.

  4. I just want to say that I love Amanda Marcotte. She’s eloquent, she’s thoughtful, and she’s funny as hell. If John Edwards fires her, he’s lost my vote because he’ll have proven himself to be a namby-pamby mediocrity who is more concerned with appeasing the jerks on the right than standing up for the people he’s supposed to represent. So Amanda has some opinions. So what? The issue here isn’t that she has said bad words or that she holds strong opinions, the issue here is that she’s a big meanie-pants atheist who just won’t shut up like the Christians want her to. It’s not hate speech to ask “Wait. So you actually belive there is a magical man in the sky who grants wishes?” or something to that effect. Because that’s all she ever says, really. The main thing that she discusses is feminism. I read the blog every day, and nothing I’ve read seems particularly hateful. She gets passionate, but that’s because the things she discusses are worth getting angry about. Who was it that said “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention”? Because it’s true.

  5. Goodness gracious! Amanda Marcotte has been hired and fired by the Edwards campaign?! Now there’s some cutting edge, heart-pounding news that just takes your breath away! How could this be happening at a time when there are two Americas, the Earth is melting, and people everywhere are dying of second-hand smoke? And don’t forget, that evil chimp, George W. Bush, has started an illegal war with the Religion of Peace for higher Haliburton profits and lower taxes for the rich!! Meanwhile, the middle-class is sinking deeper and deeper into abject poverty that’s getting worse with every passing day! And John Edwards –that handsome ambulance chaser with the pretty hair that John Kerry, the war hero who served 6 months in Vietnam, hand-picked to be Vice President of the United States– has suddenly become a namby-pamby mediocrity because Amanda Marcotte has some meanspirited opinions about men in general, Christians everywhere, and anyone who disagrees with her?? I’m with you, Erica. How’s John Edwards going to deal with the mad mullahs of Iran if he can’t even stand up against Jay Reding and all the other jerks on the right?? Oh, wait. We already know what John Edwards would do about Iran (as reported in the Wall Street Journal):

    “I–there’s no answer to that question at this moment. I think that it’s a–it’s a–it’s a very bad thing for Iran to get a nuclear weapon. I think we have–we have many steps in front of us that have not been used. We ought to negotiate directly with the Iranians, which has not, not been done. The things that I just talked about, I think, are the right approach in dealing with Iran. And then we’ll, we’ll see what the result is. . . . I think–I think the–we don’t know, and you have to make a judgment as you go along, and that’s what I would do as president.”

    And Amanda Marcotte was gonna work for this namby-pamby mediocrity?? What was she thinking? A thong and a pizza maybe? Now we will never know for sure.

  6. Oh wait!! Wait!! Good news!! John Edwards has just released a statement saying he’s talked to Amanda and whatshername and they’ve both agreed to be nice to everybody from now on, not to use bad words or rough language, and say whatever John Edwards tells them to say! So everything is just fine now. Boy, that John Edwards sure is a strong, decisive leader and a brilliant statesman. What a diplomat!! Did you see how he worked out this whole blogger thing so fast and made everybody happy? Now there’s a problem-solver for you!! Wait til the Iranians see that!! They’ll know this guy really means business. Even the Russians are bound to take notice and the Chinese for sure are weakening already. Can’t you just feel it?? I know I can.

  7. Watching Eracus trying to be funny is like watching a dung beetle trying to roll a big ball of poop up a hill. You’ve got to respect the effort, because it’s a lot of poop for such a little beetle. You also feel a little sorry for it, but you can’t help pointing and laughing at the futility of it all.

    Some meanspirited things about men in general…DING DING DING! We’ve got ourselves a genuine MRA here, folks.

  8. Wow,you big meanie-pants atheists really just can’t take a joke, can ya. No sense of humor at all, ay? Must be a tough life.

    Really. You don’t think it’s funny that John Edwards, the environmentalist, the champion of the poor and chronicler of the two Americas…. a guy who just sold his $5 million mansion in DC to clear-cut most of 102 acres of pristine wilderness to erect another $5 million mansion in North Carolina…. is running for president and is already all tangled up straddling the Bloggergate fence because he hasn’t got the guts to dismiss a couple of foul-mouthed clucking hens who hate Christians and men…. but who agree with John Edwards on God knows what else but especially that everyone deserves a “fair shake”…except for Christians, Catholics, Jews, Republicans, conservatives, white men, or people who drive SUVs, eat at McDonald’s, shop at Wal-Mart, follow NASCAR, raise their own children, and don’t believe in gay marriage. Other than those few exceptions, there’s fair shakes all ’round for everybody! One for Osama, one for Kim Il, one for Ahmadenijad, one for Vladimir, one for Hugo, one for Fidel….. because you know, “We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in.”

    Just not when it comes to big meanie-pants atheists who just won’t shut up…..

  9. Hey, I SOMEWHAT agree. I agree in the sense that you described Ms Amanda Marcott’s views precisely – “incindiary, derogatory, and bigoted.” However, I find your analysis a little HYPOCRYTICAL. Can you really call someone a bigot, if you are slamming their views and opinions yourself? Note, that bigotry is defined as being intolerant and prejudice of views challenging their own. Sorry, that’s a fairly broad assumption I’m making but, I stilllll believe, myself, that everyone would benefit from acceptance of the fact that we all have, sometimes vastly, contrasting views on various social, political, economic, historical, theoretical .. blah, blah, blah .. issues, values ect. BUT, we still share some of those with others, and it is all IMPORTANT. It keeps us thinking about things, about life, about what we feel to be right or wrong. If, we DIDN’T we’d probably be an even more f***ed up, abomination of a race/species. Anarchy might be one way to see that possibility. But, I don’t want to start throwing stones. Why, should I? Everyone is entitled to believe what they believe and we can all take an OBJECTIVE approach by SIMPLY HEARING them out, even when their every uttering of a word makes you (violently) sick to the stomach. You can still gain from hearing what they say. Even if it’s just a little insight into the ticking of their own psyche or that of their affiliations. You might think I’m overly diplomatic or politically correct. And I am definitely not some highly educated scholar or politician, psychiatrist – WHATEVER! – but, I do like to think that I or anyone who chooses to hear and observe in a critical, but OBJECTIVE manner, will be all the better for it. Beyond what I’ve said, I can’t really explain it, but I think if you were to agree you’d already have made up your mind. Just some food for thought!

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