The sad tale of John Edwards’ (now former) bloggers (UPDATE-CNN COVERS BLOGGERGATE)
**2/8/07: Breaking news on this story – looks like the decision to let the bloggers go has been reversed**
As I mentioned briefly in my last post, the mega-watt hot issue the last couple of days in the blogosphere has been the story about two popular left-wing bloggers that the John Edwards campaign hired as his ‘official bloggers.’ Several well-known righty bloggers checked the archives of the bloggers involved and noted some very nasty things they’d said on certain issues. Word of the posts got back to the Edwards campaign, and a as a result, both of these bloggers were fired.
There’s a lot to be learned from all of this, so much so that it’s hard for me to articulate in one post. The number one lesson is, I think, is that if you don’t want your words to come back to haunt you one day, then don’t say them in the first place. Now, of course, we have all said and done things we shouldn’t have, but most of us have the good sense not to repeat them and the decency to regret them. But to some people, what should be universally recognized as hateful and vulgar speech is actually considered acceptable and repeatable – that is what the case is with respect to the bloggers in question. From reading what I have from the reposts of some of their old posts, it was pretty routine to say things like this (via K.Lo) (warning: strong language ahead):
Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.
The problem with Rick Santorum is that every time he talks about sex, that little part of all of us that wants to run into a preschool and yell “f**kslut” or go to a born-again church and scream about how God loves to come in our backyards for our milkshakes, well, it just grows a hundredfold, and the restraint that most of us show just flies out the window. As a Senator, however, Santorum finds himself frequently faced with many of the most pressing issues of penis insertion that have ever faced America—and so he must speak, lest his lack of self-control be manifested by f**king his desk on the Senate floor. (There’s a knothole that’s just the right size, y’know.)
One thing I vow here and now—you motherf**kers who want to ban birth control will never sleep. I will f**k without making children day in and out and you will know it and you won’t be able to stop it. Toss and turn, you mean, jealous motherf**kers. I’m not going to be “punished” with babies. Which makes all your efforts a failure. Some non-procreating women escaped. So give up now. You’ll never catch all of us. Give up now.
Eloquent, eh? (BTW, the astericks were inserted by K.Lo, not the bloggers in question).
Did whoever picked these bloggers (and I doubt it was John Edwards personally, as I doubt he has time to between his visiting the “two Americas” and tending to his 102 acre estate) know about the kinds of things posted the blogs of the bloggers in question, or was it just poor research on their part? I think it’s the latter rather than the former, because the people who work for the Edwards’ campaign are in the big leagues, and I don’t think they’d knowingly endanger his candidacy by picking two highly inflammatory lefty bloggers to run his weblog. And in fairness to the Edwards camapaign, the pool of rational, thoughtful, well-spoken lefty bloggers is small, so it’s not exactly like they had a lot to choose from anyway.
I’ve seen some blogposts today from bloggers on the right who clearly thought John Edwards should ‘do something’ about these bloggers (presumably: fire them). My question is: why? I believe it was Reagan (correct me if I’m wrong. Update 2/8/07: I was wrong – it was Napoleon. Thanks, to those who noted that!) who said never stand in the way of anyone from the opposition who is shooting themselves in the foot (or something along those lines). That’s how I’m viewing this. Is it fair game to bring to light someone’s past statements or actions as a way of scrutinizing or confirming their credibility? Absolutely. If you’ve put yourself in the public eye, you can and better expect to be scrutinized, especially if you’re angling for and/or accepted a political job of any kind. But if a candidate from the opposition is shooting themselves in the foot, I’m not going to stand in his or her way, outside of helping to point out that that is what he or she has done. There’s nothing wrong with exposing someone for who/what they are.
I don’t feel sorry for either of these bloggers, but I don’t feel happiness over the outcome of the breaking news of this story, either. This whole scandal has been a setback for the blogosphere, especially when you consider how the NYT is painting this controversy as two bloggers “doing what bloggers do” as if to suggest that all bloggers conduct themselves in the same shameless, tasteless manner that Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon blog) and Melissa McEwan (Shakespeare’s Sister blog) do. I agree with Captain Ed here:
Unfortunately, we can expect this incident to make it harder for bloggers to make the transition into traditional political roles on campaigns. We already have a Wild West reputation for shooting off our mouths and thinking later, which I believe is mostly undeserved; the media will use this to reinforce that impression of the blogosphere. The truth is that the Edwards campaign didn’t work very hard to keep a couple of Catholic-haters out of their payroll, and while the media will also report that, that will get missed for the more sensational story of those bloggers and the liability they represent.
Another angle of this story I’d like to address is the tone of the blogosphere in general. As I’m sure you know, it’s always highly contentious, and sometimes over the top – and some of us have personally seen how nasty it can get on our own side. Granted, you don’t see it near the amount of times you do on the left, but all the same, it’s worth noting here. I remember the blogswarm over the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. I didn’t support the nomination, but I remember how Hugh Hewitt and a few others who did faced a tidal wave of criticism from the right – and some of it was very vicious and unnecessary and demonstrated to me that there are a few righty blogs out there who needed to learn the art of being able to disagree without going ballistic.
I also remember in the last couple of years a blog war erupting between a few blogs over the stupidest issue, and some of the things I saw these particular bloggers write I will never ever forget. One of them I removed from my blogroll, because I was so offended, and I have never linked to that blogger since (not that they would care). Some of these bloggers who use questionable language are fairly popular in conservative blog land, so seeing some of the complaints from other bloggers about how John Edwards’ bloggers conducted themselves have rang hollow with me, considering how some of the more popular bloggers get away with the nasty language they use. I will say that in defense of those bloggers who use that language, though, most of them I’ve seen do have points, unlike the ones under scrutiny from the Edwards campaign. It’s just hard to get to them through all the language some of the righty bloggers use which I find objectionable. Why not just keep it clean, instead of using the “F” word, “C” word (among others)? Does that mean the blogosphere should be squeaky clean and sanitized? No, but I do think there’s a fine between acceptable and unacceptable, and while it’s good to hold liberal bloggers accountable for what they say – especially when they’re thrust in the spotlight by working on a political campaign – we need to police ourselve, too. It’s hard to have rock-solidy credibility on the issue of vulgarity and hateful speech when we turn a blind eye to what’s going on in our own backyards by ignoring the elephant in the room.
It’s been amusing to watch the various lefty bloggers today foaming at the mouth in outrage over this issue, and some of course are trying to do some digging on righty bloggers who work for politicians instead of acknowledging that the bloggers the Edwards’ campaign hired represent the worst of what the blogosphere has to offer. It’s obvious what the outrage, lack of condemnation of the bloggers, and attempts at moral relativism on the part of lefty bloggers is all about: they’re not outraged over what was said at the blogs in question because they don’t think anything was wrong with it, and even if there was something wrong with it, dammit, they have the right to free speech!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! However, when it comes to ‘Free speech’ the left is a not just a little but a lot selective with how they choose to invoke ‘free speech rights’ – examples of that are Daily Kos blogger and HuffPo legend Mike “Nutroots” Stark’s campaign along with another blogger to get Melanie Morgan kicked off the radio for ‘hate speech’, the coordinated attack on ABC for daring to portray the Clinton administration’s counterterrorism measures in an unflattering light, an attack so vicious in nature that not only was Bill Clinton threatening to “sue” ABC if the program (Path to 9-11) wasn’t pulled completely, but some Democratic members of Congress actually threatened to pull ABC’s broadcast license, and the all out war to have the Washington Post fire or force to resign Red America blogger Ben Domenech not because he was a plagiarist (you think the left cares about honesty?) but the fact that the WaPo dared to add a conservative blogger to its rosters of online writers. So you disingenuous far lefties out there whining about how the right is trying to ‘stiffle dissent’ need to take an Ex-Lax, because not only do you have no room to talk on the issue, but you’re simply full of it, as usual.
And speaking of the Ben Domenech scandal, there was a roundhouse condemnation from righty bloggers once it was discovered that Domenech was a plagiarist and most bloggers I read on the right agreed that Ben did the right thing by stepping down. Contrast that with how the left is steadfastly defending the gutter remarks that have been made by the (now former) bloggers for the Edwards campaign. That’s the difference between being an adult and acknowledging that your side has its flaws versus being a child who stomps his feet and whines that he’s never wrong, while screaming “bbbbut the nieghbor’s kid does it too!” when his mother is chiding him. Like that child who doesn’t think anything he’s done is wrong, the far lefties condoning and defending the juvenile, crass, and vulgar remarks made by their own makes it clear that they don’t really think what was said was that bad – and in fact, some of them believe the comments were right on the mark, and not worth condemning.
The lefty blogosphere’s defensive reaction to all of this is symbolic for the Democratic party on the whole, most of whom refuse themselves to apologize or retract highly offensive, often misleading, and sometimes outright false accusations they make about our troops, and the CIC. These people want to argue that the ‘adults are now in charge.’ I beg to differ.
Morals of the story?
1. If you keep it clean, you can’t go wrong.
2. If you plan on working for a politician, expect to be heavily scrutinized and be prepared for it.
3. We need to police ourselves better.
4. If the opposition is shooting themselves in the foot, let them, and you can assist them by bringing to light that they are, indeed, shooting themselves in the foot.
5. Liberal bloggers have no credibility whatsoever on this issue.
Update I: ROTFLMAO! (scroll down for the pic and you’ll see what I’m laughing at). Good one, Uncle Jimbo!
Update II: Ian has video of CNN covering Bloggergate (V.2007).
Others blogging about this: Glenn Reynolds, Allah, Malkin, more from Captain Ed, Jeff Goldstein, The Sundries Shack, MKH, Greg Tinti (more here), Sensible Mom, Lorie Byrd, Outside the Beltway (more here), Rick Moran, Terry Moran (follow-up here), Patterico (more here), Jay Reding, Anchoress, Bob Owens, Webloggin, Iowa Voice, BCB, Bryan at Hot Air, Tom Maguire, McQ