Edwards, Democrats & the lefty blogosphere.

A former staffer for Joe Lieberman's 2006 campaign takes the lefty netroots folks to task for their tactics in the flap surrounding John Edwards's now-resigned bloggers. He points out the obvious--though apparently not obvious enough to Edwards and the blogging Left: Catholic voters matter.

One sure way to . . . consign our party to minority status is to broadly tar Christians in general and Catholics in particular as Christo-fascists and misogynists, as the Edwards bloggers did.

Catholics are one of the biggest and most important swing-voting blocs in this country. They often tend to decide elections. So its probably not the smartest idea for a leading Democratic presidential candidate to hire people who openly defame Catholicisms sacred figures by talking about the Lord filling the Virgin Mary with his hot, white, sticky spirit.

Regardless of Edwards's knowledge of the bloggers' past commentary, it seemed obvious to everyone except Edwards and the lefty netroots webizens that the politically intelligent thing to do was to let them go. (Or at least Marcotte, whose offenses greatly exceeded McEwan's.) But Edwards didn't. He announced instead that he was "personally offended" by the slurs, and claimed he believed the bloggers when they said they didn't really mean to offend anyone--a claim that was self-evidently laughable. The bloggers' nonapology apologies were similarly deficient. I'm sorry if is not the same as I'm sorry that.

Not to belabor Gerstein's point, but it's time for establishment Democrats to reevaluate their relationship with Kos and company. Their calls for Edwards not to "give in" to "right-wing attacks" came off more like playground bullying than sound political advice. If the lefty netroots are as insensitive to the offenses committed by the likes of Marcotte as their advice to Edwards indicates, do they deserve the wide berth they've been given by so many Democrats? If they cannot grasp the simple notion that their blogging comrades viciously attacked Christian faith and Christian believers, and that those offenses could have political consequences, why do they deserve a place at the table? Is it their growing fundraising prowess? Their snappy comebacks? Proficiency with HTML?

Salon has published Marcotte's reflections on her brief tenure with the Edwards campaign. I don't find them terribly encouraging. This is how she describes her thought process before accepting Edwards's job offer:

"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.

And how she explains her infamous attempt at humor:

The joke was typical of Pandagon's satirical tone and was intended to mock a common rhetorical ploy of abortion opponents -- a hypothetical question and answer -- not to mock anyone's personal faith. Unsurprisingly, Donohue failed to note in his press release accusing me of anti-Catholic bigotry what had really prompted my post: my discovery that the marriage classes at some Catholic churches were passing out anti-contraception materials that had blatant misinformation in them.

And how she concludes:

Blogs are popular because they provide space for everyday citizens to engage in politics, in the language and manner that is comfortable for us, if not for the establishment. To my mind, however, it would be a terrible thing if bloggers did heed the advice to mind our manners and ape our betters if we want in, since this is supposed to be a democratic system that respects the right of everyday, common people to participate in politics. While there's a chance that the crusade to separate McEwan and me from the Edwards campaign was just a singular happening, the possibility lingers that this was just the first sign that the established media and political circles will not be letting the blog-writing rabble into the circle without a fight.

There is certainly something exciting about what the Internet, especially blogs, can offer political discourse. But the notion that well-mannered commentary is antithetical to the nature of the blogosphere, especially when it's an uncomfortable fit for bloggers, if allowed to guide the lefty netroots, may go a long way to ensuring their obsolescence in the years to come.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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