Thursday, February 15, 2007

Amanda Marcotte: Why I had to quit the John Edwards campaign

From Salon:

My main concern about the relationship between my personal blog and the campaign blog was that I wouldn't have enough time to keep my personal blog updated as frequently as the readers had come to expect, a problem I solved by inviting other bloggers to join. I thought some about content concerns, but my opinion had always been that bloggers who work for campaigns should feel free to have personal blogs, so long as they disclosed their employment to their personal blog readers and refrained from using their personal blogs to bash other candidates.

"Reasonable people," I thought, "can tell the difference between a personal blog post and those I'll write for the campaign." What I naively failed to understand was that there is no relationship between what reasonable people think and what will be used in a partisan bout of mud-slinging.

What I also failed to understand was how much McEwan and I would stick out. I was aware that I didn't exactly fit the image people have of bloggers who join campaigns -- the stereotype being 30-something nerdy young white men who wear khakis and obsess over crafting their Act Blue lists. I wasn't aware that not fitting the image would attract so much negative attention. In fact, I mostly saw this all as a baby step in the direction of diversity, since McEwan and I differed from the stereotype mostly by being female and by being outspoken feminists.

I announced that I was taking the job on Jan. 30, and the same week, I noticed a small flare-up of oddly aggressive and misogynistic comments in my moderation queue over a short, irritated post I wrote about the coverage of the Duke lacrosse rape case on CNN. I assumed that some anti-feminist blogger had linked me and so, in frustration, I went and rewrote my by-then week-old post to mock the commenters by spelling out my views in childish, easy-to-understand language. This may have been the first indication that the right-wing noise machine had noticed me and was looking for something with which to hurt me and my new employers.

Read the whole post.

I have always liked Pandagon, and I was pleased to see Amanda make it into the "big leagues." I'm sorry that she was forced to resign due to the right wing crazies.

Her post at Salon does a good job of explaining what she has had to face as a result of being a typical, though talented, blogger. What we write, if we ever get elevated to a position of power, can come back to bite us in the ass. On the net, every word is immortal.

Should we change anything about what we do? Only if we plan to sell out. Amanda and Melissa McEwan (of Shakespeare's Sister) both thought they could separate their personal blogs from their professional work for Edwards. Turns out, not surprisingly, that the wingnuts would never allow that distinction. As Amanda writes:

None of this was especially surprising. The right-wing noise machine's favorite trick, possibly its only trick, is to select a target and start making a fuss, hoping that by creating the appearance of smoke, just enough people will be fooled into thinking there's a fire. Unfortunately, it works. It was the method used to railroad Bill Clinton (Whitewater, Vince Foster, state troopers) and the method that ushered the nation into war with Iraq (WMDs and so on). This time they were only attacking a lowly rookie staffer on a Democratic campaign, but the M.O. was the same.

Why does the left allow the right to do this? It's nothing new, yet they are continually successful in taking this approach. When Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League, an organization that claims to exist to fight anti-Catholic bigotry, got into the mix, that was the beginning of the end for Amanda and Melissa.

Too bad.

The left is much better at the netroots approach than is the right. And to have two young, intelligent feminists blogging for Edwards would have been a great step forward.

Our loss.

And Edward's loss. His lame defense of his hires was pathetic at best -- and, at worst, it is sure to alienate many on the left in the blogosphere.

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