Leadership

Someone (Atrios? Ezra Klein?) posted a link to this post last week from TPMCafe’s Reed Hunt, 10 Events that could change the election’s dynamics, and I quoted one line from it last week in an article I posted at LP about the John Edwards campaign hiring bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan.

It remains a point well made (now that the conservative attack-bloggers have managed to get their Amanda-hating into the mainstream press – EDIT):

it is the reaction, not the event, that determines leadership.

Christine Keeler and I are discussing the blog-eruption regarding this over there.

UPDATE: Edwards shows a spine (more in comments).

UPDATE 15 Feb: After more manufactured outrage from the attack-bloggers and the so-called “right-wing noise machine” catching the attention of the corporate media, both Amanda and Melissa have resigned from the campaign staff. Plenty of stuff on Pandagon and Shakespeare’s Sister for those still catching up (those two links are just the announcement posts), and we’ve been covering it a bit over at Larvatus Prodeo too.



Categories: culture wars, Politics

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8 replies

  1. John Edwards is not firing Amanda or Melissa. His statement below is an interesting rhetorical exercise. I think the first two and last two sentences are particularly well framed now that the issue’s made the mainstream papers:

    The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte’s and Melissa McEwan’s posts personally offended me. It’s not how I talk to people, and it’s not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it’s intended as satire, humor, or anything else. But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I’ve talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith, and I take them at their word. We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in.

    Good soundbite chunks there.

  2. Urk, still smells like waffles to me.
    Good Lord, he’s running for President and Amanda’s and Melissa’s posts offended him? Baloney. The public slapdown was unnecessary.
    Here’s how I would have done it:
    We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked. It will take discipline, focus, and courage to build the America we believe in. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but Amanda Marcotte’s and Melissa McEwan’s jobs will be to explain my ideas and policies to the American public. Whatever they have written in the past is their own, not mine.

  3. My choice of the term “rhetorical exercise” was deliberate. I agree that for my preference, the slapdown was excessive. For the purposes of quenching the fire his feet were being held to, these words were effective.
    That doesn’t help Amanda or Melissa much though. They may still believe in his goals, and that he’s still the candidate they think has the best vision for their government. I imagine any honeymoon is well and truly over though.

  4. The fire being held to Edwards’s feet cannot have been very hot.
    There is no primary on the horizon. Most of he is doing these days is fundraising and I doubt that a flap over blogs would cause money to evaporate. And the political points he could win over a public spanking would be few.

  5. You don’t think the “anti-catholic” accusation from Donohue was a hot fire?
    Donahue’s treated by too many in the media as a legitimate Catholic spokesman and is lauded as a “civil rights campaigner” by whole racks of bishops and priests. His bullying with threats of adverse publicity has in the past led to successful TV shows and movie projects that have already had millions spent on them being cancelled.
    He doesn’t think Edwards’ statement goes nearly far enough:

    ”Edwards said today that “We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked.’ I have news for him””the Catholic League””not Edwards””will decide what the debate will be about, and it won’t be about the nation. It will be about the glaring double standard that colors the entire conversation about bigotry.
    “We will launch a nationwide public relations blitz that will be conducted on the pages of the New York Times, as well as in Catholic newspapers and periodicals. It will be on-going, breaking like a wave, starting next week and continuing through 2007. It will be an education campaign, informing the public of what he did today. We will also reach out to our allies in the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist communities. They worked with us before on many issues, and are sure to do so again. What Edwards did today will not be forgotten.”

    I know I view all this stuff through even more media lenses (including blogs) than any American voter but religion sure seems like a very hot potato for any US election campaign. I imagine that the Edwards team was prepared for cyberspace blowback from conservatives about foulmouthed harridan bloggers, but I’m pretty sure that Donohue running off with an “anti-catholic” bigotry spin and getting into the NYT, the WaPo and interviewed on Fox and CBS was totally unexpected. That amount of media exposure certainly seems like something that could affect fundraising to me, but maybe I’m wrong.
    I’ve heard quite a bit of speculation that Donohue’s press releases/interviews break the rules regarding political lobbying by tax-exempt organisations. Do you think that’s got any legs?

  6. You don’t think the “anti-catholic” accusation from Donohue was a hot fire?
    I’d say it was sound and fury signifying not a whole hell of a lot. If this had erupted during the primary season, it could have been serious. But with no electoral trials near at hand it will blow itself out shortly.
    I’m sure Edwards is eager to avoid being tarred with the “anti-catholic” brush. He is running to left of most of the other Democratic candidates and Catholic blue collar voters are his natural constituency. But he can’t forsake pro-choice votes either. So Edwards has to juggle issues to satisfy a number of conflicting interests. It ain’t always easy.
    Will the flap turn off Catholic voters? I doubt it because I think that Edwards’s economic populism will resonate better with voters than some ginned up controversy about the hiring of a very low level campaign staffer. Even if it caused a temporary drought of funding, it wouldn’t be fatal to Edwards. There is plenty to time to make up for it.
    Of course, Edwards may decide it just isn’t worth it and throw Marcotte and McEwan overboard.
    All political candidates run outreach efforts to all kinds of constituencies they would never be seen publicly courting. George W had an extremely discrete but effective fundraising and outreach effort to homosexual groups in 2000. Edwards wants some netroots street cred, so he hired Marcotte and McEwan. I don’t see why he should back away from that. More power to him.
    I’ve heard quite a bit of speculation that Donohue’s press releases/interviews break the rules regarding political lobbying by tax-exempt organisations. Do you think that’s got any legs?
    I’m viewing things from afar too, but campaigning hijinks have to be pretty egregious to rise to that level. If I were a conspiracy minded guy, I’d say that the Bush administration would rather see Edwards take some political flak before wrapping Donohue’s knuckles.

  7. As usual, you make good points, Andrew.
    The more I think about it the more disappointed I am. I like his policies a lot, but he’s not looking like he’s ruthless enough to get them through.
    Tangent: Have you read Michael Berube’s coinage (saw it in a comments thread somewhere) for conflation of our bloggrrls by the attack-bloggers? It’s all Melamissanda, all the time.

  8. Update: For those who don’t already know, Amanda and Melissa have both resigned. See addendum to post for more details.

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