Thursday, February 08, 2007So Edwards has issued a press release saying that he isn't firing Amanda and Melissa. I'm very glad he did so, obviously, and I think he struck the right balance, acknowledging that some people might be offended by some of Amanda's more explosive statements but refusing to kow-tow to the wingnuts.
From scanning the comments of various liberal blogs, it's clear that some folks think Edwards should have come out stronger, turning the smear around by attacking the hypocrisy of those criticizing Amanda and Melissa. I think this is a judgment call. Edwards wants this election to be about issues, not blogging. If he got down in the mud with Malkin and Donahue, it would become a bigger story. As it is, if the media continue to press the issue he can always pursue a more aggressive strategy later. Remember, not everybody is as militantly angry as we are.
Having come to Amanda and Melissa's defense, I must say I am conflicted at the wisdom of hiring professional bloggers for a political campaign. Ideally what someone writes on their personal time shouldn't matter, but as a practical matter it very much does. Big time bloggers are ultimately public figures, not private ones. And those two are explicitly political bloggers. This is not quite like somebody getting fired from a private sector job for just having a blog. It's more like if Edwards hired Richard Dawkins to write speeches for him. Amanda and Melissa are minor public figures, but public figures nonetheless. This puts them in a different category from your run of the mill political aide. (However, I think it is very interesting that they just happen to go after two women.)
Of course, if we're going to hold candidates accountable for the behavior of every one of their staff members, then both parties should be held up to this standard. I hope this doesn't happen. I hope we can focus our attention on the candidates rather than the people who work for them. It's hard enough to get anybody involved in public life as it is. We don't need to establish a rule that anyone who has ever made a controversial utterance about anything is excluded forever from politics. Regrettably I think that's where we're heading. Which is why part of me believes that Edwards, Obama, whoever, should make the nature of the public discourse a campaign theme. Run against negative politics and the right-wing smear machine. You might be surprised at the outcome.
Oh, and just in case there's any doubt - I think Malkin and Donahue are McCarthyite smearmongers who would sell their mothers' souls for a centimeter of political advantage. Goebbels could have learned a thing or two from them. To risk barring myself from a future political career: they can both go fuck themselves. And that goes for that GOP owned and operated conveyor belt of a "journalist" Wolf Blitzer too. I have never been able to decide whether he's a tool or a hack. Probably both.
update: Paul Waldman has an interesting take on this.