It looks to me as though one of my favorite lefty bloggers, Majikthise (real name: Lindsay Beyerstein), dodged a bullet. In a Salon.com article, she describes how she originally was approached to blog for the John Edwards campaign. As you may recall, Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon ultimately was offered the job and ultimately ended up having to resign as Edwards’ political enemies quote-mined her blog for quotes that could be used against her, Michelle Malkin did a “dramatic reading” of selected excerpts from her blog, and that embarrassment to Catholics everywhere, William Donohue of the Catholic League, attacked her for some of her more–shall we say?–”vociferous” comments on Catholicism. Majikthise gives a fascinating insider account of her knowledge of this kerfluffle.
A couple of points are worth mentioning. First, Majikthise clearly showed more wisdom than Marcotte did. Really, what happened was in retrospect very predictable given the power and organization of the rightwing attack machine. The huge downside of a blogger signing on for such a high profile position in any politician’s campaign should have been obvious, which makes me wonder if Edwards is as politically savvy as he is represented as being. (I doubt that there’s any blogger out there who’s been around for more than a year whose archives couldn’t be mined for ammunition to use in a smear campaign against him or her.) I also suspect a bit of ego massage is what resulted in Marcotte making such a bad decision. She was a horrible choice. Personally, I think she’s overrated and dropped Pandagon from my blogroll ages ago. However, my personal opinion about Marcotte’s talent as a writer and blogger is irrelevant to what ended up happening. What is relevant is her propensity to use of profanity and gleefully attack religion in general and Catholicism in particular.
Second, you and I may laugh at, for example, Michelle Malkin’s “dramatic reading” parody of selected quotes from Amanda, but, looking back at it, I see that it was a highly effective ploy, particularly when coupled with the extensive quote-mining by others. To see how effective, all I had to do is to imagine what my in-laws, all of whom are staunch Democrats, would think–or my parents, both of whom are devout Catholics, would react. (Heck, Marcotte’s recent post calling abortion a “moral good” irritated even me. At the most generous interpretation, abortion can be viewed as morally neutral medical procedure; in cases where the fetus is potentially viable, the best that can be said is that it may sometimes be the lesser of two evils.) In any case staunch union-supporting retirees like my in-laws and Catholics like my parents are precisely the kinds of voters that no Democratic candidate for President can afford to risk alienating, and putting someone like Amanda Marcotte in such a high visibility position in Edwards campaign risked doing just that. Fortunately for Edwards, this happened so early and lasted such a short time that it probably won’t hurt him much–not that it matters much in terms of my deciding what candidates I can and can’t support, given that there never was (and still isn’t) any scenario that I can imagine under which I see myself ever voting for John Edwards