Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:07 am

I want to congratulate former Senator John Edwards and the entire network of netroots activists who, through a combination of thuggish threats and wild obfuscations of the facts managed to cow a candidate for President into doing their bidding by keeping two female bigots on his staff.

Amazing. So many issues have been raised by this dust-up that my “Last Word” post yesterday really doesn’t do the matter justice - especially after the shocking statement announcing the decision was released. For in my opinion, this couldn’t have ended worse for Edwards or the netroots if Karl Rove had planned it.

The general consensus among righty bloggers who are looking at the matter dispassionately is that Edwards probably did the only thing he could do in keeping the two women on board but that the prevaricating statement he issued to announce his decision was shocking in tone and substance. Simply put, to say that the two bloggers in question weren’t trying to malign Catholics or Christians is a crock.

Ed Morrissey:

However, it’s difficult to give much credence to Edwards’ explanation. He says that both bloggers have “assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith,” but given the quoted material, it’s almost impossible to reach any other conclusion. Calling Christians “misogynists” for their beliefs on the nature of life and the Virgin Birth, and that their opposition to abortion aims to force women to produce more tithing Catholics, certainly qualifies as intentionally malignant. It’s a convenient dodge, as were the “apologies” from the pair for having been misunderstood.

Contrary to the opinions of some well-intentioned bloggers, this never had anything to do with free speech. It had to do with the judgment of the Edwards campaign in hiring two incendiary bloggers known in part for their hostility to Christians.

This brings up a point that has puzzled me since the entire imbroglio began; how can you “smear” someone with their own words? Chris Bowers used the terms “smear” several times in this post in reference to the right’s attempt to highlight what any reasonable person would conclude are bigoted references to someone else’s personal religious beliefs. And despite the denials of both Marcotte and McEwan that they were only kidding or being satirical, the context of those hateful words and phrases clearly indicates rage not comedy was at work and a deliberate attempt to inflict emotional pain on Christian believers was fully intended. Why else would Marcotte refer to Jesus as “Jebus” so often on her site (one blogger counted 114 references to “Jebus”) or so shockingly refer to Christians as “misogynists?”

I suppose I should make it known for the umpteenth time that I am an atheist and am only concerned about the impact of these words on others. For the same reason we all blanch when someone uses the “N” word in a joke or other derogatory manner due to its hurtful connotations, we should all roundly and specifically condemn these hateful, hurtful, insensitive remarks published by both these women on their blogs.

But in this case, politics has trumped decency. No major netroots blogger that I have read has taken these women to task for their extraordinarily vile and disgusting diatribes. A few brave liberal commenters on my first post regarding Marcotte expressed outrage. But the outrage of the netroots was reserved for conservatives who, as I mentioned yesterday, were using the issue to try and damage Edwards while doing a little scalp hunting. While admitting the motives of conservatives were not pure, I was still shocked that nary a peep was heard regarding the two bloggers disgusting characterizations of Catholics and Christians in general. “Christofascists” as McEwan continually referred to them.

But the extent of whitewashing being done by the netroots when they concentrate on defending the obscenities used by the bloggers rather than the substance of their remarks is truly remarkable. I actually defended Jesse Taylor former blogger at Pandagon, and the use of obscenities in this post. I doubt that a few F-bombs would have been enough to cause the kind of stink that erupted. Saying that I or any other conservative is objecting solely on those grounds is a strawman argument plain and simple.

I have my own problems with the religious right but you would never, ever catch me using the kind of invective employed by Marcotte and McEwan. For me, it makes the defense of the two bloggers all the more curious. Apparently, tolerance, like every other part of liberal dogma, is a relative thing and that it can safely be disregarded if it interferes with the drive for power that is animating the progressive community.


But lost on these Marcotte supporters—who are cheering on the power of the “netroots” to cow a politician into keeping on an ugly and hateful liability—is that Edwards just showed up Marcotte and McEwan as frauds and posturing blowhards, writers who have been pulling the wool over their audiences’ eyes by posting vicious “arguments” they never truly believed. To use the loaded language of establishment feminism—he publicly castrated them—and in so doing, he made fools out of their audiences, to boot.

Further, in doing so, he has shown himself to be nothing more than a calculating political opportunist of the worst sort—one who believes the voting public so daft they might actually buy a statement like the one he just released.

As I wrote yesterday, I don’t care one way or the other, personally, about whether or not Marcotte and McEwan are allowed to keep their jobs. That’s Edwards’ call. And from a blogging perspective, I suppose Edwards’ decision is good news.

But let’s not confuse the effect with the rationale—which is both risible and insulting. Because were it really never Marcotte’s intent to malign anyone’s faith, she probably wouldn’t have dedicated so many hate-filled blog posts to, you know—maligning anyone’s faith.

Indeed. Numerous sins can be forgiven as long as those transgressions serve the “higher purpose” of electing a President beholden to progressive online community. Jeff thinks that Edward’s statement emasculates the two bloggers. Nothing could be further than the truth. With a wink and a nod at his online supporters, Edwards has included them in his political gambit of appearing to chastise the bloggers for the benefit of the press and the rest of America who view what the two bloggers wrote as beyond the pale while acknowledging to his supporters that he knows where they’re coming from.

The questions raised about Edwards in this regard are extremely troubling. If he can’t stand up to Chris Bowers, can we expect him to stand up to the Iranians? Or the North Koreans? Or perhaps China who some experts believe are ready to use force to take back their “lost province” of Taiwan in the next 5 years?

Are these unfair questions? I think not. This is what Presidential campaigns are all about. Voters examine a candidate using a variety of criteria and certainly personnel decisions are among the most important. In this respect, Edwards may have gained some online friends but lost some others - including the religious left:

“We have gone so far to rebuild that coalition [between Democrats and religious Christians] and something like this sets it back,” said Brian O’Dwyer, a New York lawyer and Irish-American leader who chairs the National Democratic Ethnic Leadership Council, a Democratic Party group. O’Dwyer said Edwards should have fired the bloggers. “It’s not only wrong morally – it’s stupid politically.”

O’Dwyer e-mailed a statement to reporters saying: “Senator Edwards is condoning bigotry by keeping the two bloggers on his staff. Playing to the cheap seats with anti-Catholic bigotry has no place in the Democratic Party.”

This is what people outside of the online community are thinking. Are they part of the “right wing smear machine?”

I have no doubt that the issues that surround the use of bloggers on campaigns is far from settled. I disagree with some of the conventional wisdom that this will necessarily make things harder for both bloggers and candidates to come together.

Joe Gandleman:

It’s the nature of blogging (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) for many blog writers to take positions that might be controversial in content, presentation, or language (each site makes a judgment on the latter and we avoid non-newspaper language here.) While some blog writers and commenters choose words carefully, more often than not blogging resembles a cyberspace form of talk radio with little censoring. And blogwriters can be far more blunt than newspaper columnists or editorial writers.

So if this is the new standard to be applied to campaigns on the left, it’s clear there is going to be a demand for the same standards to be applied to campaigns on the right.

The Marcotte-McEwan dustup has lowered the bar somewhat but I see this as a problem much more for the angry left than the right. Bloggers who have already attached themselves to Republican candidates (with the exception of Patrick Hynes working for McCain) are pretty staid representatives of the conservative sphere. Patrick Ruffini, hired by Rudy Giuliani is a long time GOP activist and can hardly be considered a bomb thrower. And a cursory glance at the top 50 or so conservative bloggers reveal a few that resort to obscenity laced tirades but most fall into a category more vanilla than hot sauce. Skewering the opposition without using dirty or inappropriate language will not be a hindrance in hiring them for GOP Presidential campaigns.

Of course, there are plenty of lefty bloggers who get their point across without tossing F-bombs all over the place or resorting to the kind of hate speech employed by Marcotte-McEwan. I have no doubt that some of them may have moved up the list of potential hires for Democratic candidates. It will be interesting to see what will happen as a result of this controversy. For instance, the bloggers at Firedog Lake are among the most raucous writers on the left. Will this keep some of those excellent bloggers from being employed by a Democratic candidate? Time will tell.

Edwards may have guaranteed that his candidacy will last at least through the first round of primaries by keeping the netroots happy. But he may have damaged his chances beyond that point by standing behind Marcotte-McEwan and their savagely anti-Christian pronouncements. Make no mistake. He can’t have it both ways. He can say from now until doomsday that he condemns the hate speech. But by keeping the two women on his staff, he is announcing to the world that he tolerates it.

I have a feeling this candidate/blogger issue will become a blood sport by summertime as all the announced candidates begin fleshing out their staffs to include members of the online community from both right and left. What this means for blogging in general and the future of the sphere, I have no idea. But I know there’s no way I would ever open myself up to the kind of public scrutiny that these bloggers will have to go through in order to participate in The Great Game.


  1. Rick,

    Anyone aspiring to become POTUS must demonstrate they can exercise a modicum of good judgement. Considering the fact that about 80% of the people in this country identify themselves as Christian, Edwards’ decision to keep two people on his communications staff who hate Christians suggests political incompetence, self-delusion or both. Anyone who takes either his explanation or Marcotte’s and McEwan’s non-apologies seriously is wholly bereft of common sense.

    Admittedly, it would be entertaining to see Marcotte delivering the daily WH press briefings…the female counterpart of Andrew Dice Clay meets the late Susan Sontag.

    Comment by Sirius Familiaris — 2/9/2007 @ 9:57 am

  2. Oh, so we on the right are supposed to be intimidated now that the rule is anything you’ve written can be used against you?

    Heh, BRING IT ON!

    In fact, amplify it. Because for every nitwitted and profane righty blogger, there are ten lined up on the left-hand side that are invariably more rude, illogical and childish.

    Again, those on the left who think there is some kind of equivalence will have their argument blow up in their faces.

    Comment by Ken McCracken — 2/9/2007 @ 10:15 am

  3. Web Reconnaissance for 02/09/2007

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

    Trackback by The Thunder Run — 2/9/2007 @ 10:59 am

  4. Catholics slam bloggers hired by Edwards

    Two bloggers hired recently by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards were criticized Tuesda

    Trackback by Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator — 2/9/2007 @ 11:02 am

  5. Seems that Christians are the last acceptable group to bash. Frankly, I’m an atheist, so I don’t get all the hullabaloo, but the lefties that come to my blog love to bash “Xtians”.

    Great Post.

    Comment by Jenn — 2/9/2007 @ 11:58 am

  6. Exclusive interview!

    This is what Terry Moran misses when he refers to a “rhetorical gangsterism” he says is practiced “on both the right and the left.” The left’s “gangsterism” gets political results, because the MSM is liberal, and therefore more sympathetic to th…

    Trackback by The Other McCain — 2/9/2007 @ 12:54 pm

  7. Seems that Christians are the last acceptable group to bash.

    Actually, no. The last acceptable group are gays - if my understanding of the latest acts of legislation and attempts at changing the constitution of the United States are interpreted correctly. I imagine “the Left” primarily takesk issue with who the “spokesman” was that got on his soapbox to decry the bigotry of these bloggers against Catholics. If even half of what I read about him is true, and I personally know nothing about him, he is the last person on God’s Green Earth to lecture on the subject of bigotry and cruel invectives.

    Suppose Edwards did remove these people because of his raising the issue. Then Edwards basically makes this guy a source for the press every time something like this arises again. Personally, I think Edwards did the right thing by not granting Donahoe any power or say in how he conducts his campaign. Donahoe does not act in Edward’s interest and, furthermore, is not interested in the “greater good” of how candidates handle themselves. He wants to tear down anyone who is not a theological Republican. No ifs, ands or buts.

    Comment by Hallfasthero — 2/9/2007 @ 1:22 pm

  8. “Actually, no. The last acceptable group are gays – if my understanding of the latest acts of legislation and attempts at changing the constitution of the United States are interpreted correctly.”

    Heh, try living in Massachusetts and saying that.

    White males are truly the last group that can be bashed to no end, Christians appear to come in a close second (and like a previous commentor I’m an atheist and don’t see why there’s a need to trash them).

    Comment by Shawn — 2/9/2007 @ 5:51 pm

  9. Why else would Marcotte refer to Jesus as “Jebus” so often on her site

    It’s a running joke originating from the Simpsons. Homer thinks the Lord’s name is Jebus.

    Comment by Oy vey — 2/9/2007 @ 6:47 pm

  10. Amanda Marcotte’s backpeddling

    On John Edwards’ campaign blog, Amanda Marcotte wrote the following…

    Trackback by Huperborea — 2/11/2007 @ 1:37 am

  11. “It’s a running joke originating from the Simpsons. Homer thinks the Lord’s name is Jebus.”

    Based on her other posts it’s quite obvious she doesn’t mean it in a purely joking manner.

    Comment by Shawn — 2/11/2007 @ 7:52 pm

  12. At this point everybody understands that there are Christians who practice their religion (outside the political arena), but there are also Christians who actively insert their particular religious views into the political arena. Or what Andrew Sullivan and others call “Christianists” (aping the term “Islamist” for followers of Islam who insert their religion on politics). I have no trouble with anybody taking Christianists to task for their political speech, as Marcotte has done in the past (and I’ve also have heard/read bad words in my day, so the “f-bomb” as people like to call it on G-rated blogs, like this one, doesn’t faze me much, either). Basically, it’s a double standard cooked up by the Christianists - they get to say (and do) whatever they please in the realm of politics (including saying/doing what they will w/r/t the abortion debate and gay rights), but the minute somebody comes down on them, and calls them on their B.S., they suddenly cry about how Christians are getting the shaft. Poor dears. It’s not the Christianity that makes people like Marcotte (and me!) angry and ready to spit f-bombs all over the map, it’s the fact that they would continue to support laws that keep gays (and women) second-class citizens. Stop trying to install the (selective reading of the) Bible in place of the Constitution, please, and we’ll all have a much nicer time in the blogosphere, with fewer bad words that get the Right’s panties all balled up and uncomfy-like. What say?

    Comment by IncandenzaH — 2/12/2007 @ 6:28 pm

  13. “I suppose I should make it known for the umpteenth time that I am an atheist and am only concerned about the impact of these words on others.”

    I could care less about the Bible. And I wrote a post defending Jesse Taylor’s right to swear.

    It’s not about obscenities - except the obscenity of thought that reeks from Marcotte’s posts. It is about hate speech.

    Keep defending it.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 2/12/2007 @ 7:00 pm

  14. Amanda Marcotte resigns from Edwards’ campaign

    Amanda Marcotte’s Announcement

    Trackback by Huperborea — 2/12/2007 @ 8:47 pm

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