John Edwards’ selection as his blogger-in-chief of Pandagon‘s Amanda Marcotte has mushroomed into what National Journal “Beltway Blogroll” terms “the first blog scandal of campaign 2008,” made more piquant by Marcotte’s quick move (documented in our Friday post) to delete her bizarrely abusive rantings about the Duke case once they began to attract attention. I should note that in our very active comments thread, Ted takes a different view than I do of the affair, and I explain in turn (in a comment kindly quoted by K.C. Johnson) why I think the episode does reflect poorly on Edwards’ campaign:
John Edwards’s life in the law and experience with the justice system is his major resume item dating back beyond the past few years, as well as the major reason this site has given his career extensive coverage. Moreover, the Duke case, which looks ever more like the Scottsboro Boys case of our era, has been convulsing his own state of North Carolina for month after month. Edwards’ dodging of the case — his apparently successful stifling of any urge to speak out at the plight of the falsely accused — might on its own stand as merely cowardly. Marcotte’s hiring, on the other hand, throws an even less attractive light on it, rather as if, in Scottsboro Boys days, an on-the-sidelines Southern senator took on as a major spokesperson someone who’d been yelling the Boys’ guilt from the rooftops in the most crudely prejudicial language.
On Marcotte’s quick removal of her Duke comments, Dale Franks at Q and O makes the legitimate point that there’s nothing intrinsically improper in bloggers’ going back to amend or delete past posts that they now realize are mistaken or which no longer reflect their evolving views. And Ted cautions, also quite fairly, against evaluating a blogger’s fitness for a real-world post by pointing to the most inflammatory of his or her thousands of past posts.
Part of what lends the Marcotte episode such a comic aspect, however, is the timing and nature of her post and later revision. Her vitriolic rant asserting the lacrosse players’ guilt was posted a mere two weeks ago, almost certainly at a point after (as the Atlanta airport reference indicates) she had already entered talks with the Edwards campaign and thus had reason to know that she might soon come under the heightened scrutiny accorded to an official spokesperson. These were not the impulsive utterances of a Net Newbie. Moreover, the temperate-sounding new “official stance” with which she replaced the scrubbed post is ludicrously different in both tone and content from the rant it replaced; at a quick reading, one might even take it for a defense of the lacrosse players. A closer examination of its dodgy language, however, reveals that she does not actually take anything back; there is no indication that she has reconsidered her view of Jan. 21 or sees it as being in need of actual correction.
As for whether Marcotte was just having a bad day and slipped into an abusiveness that is unrepresentative of her usual tone, even a cursory glance through her output at Pandagon makes clear that there is much more embarrassment for the Edwards campaign to come: a few examples are collected at LieStoppers (scroll to “Earlier Comments”), Michelle Malkin, and Creative Destruction.
Some further commentary: Common Sense Political Thought, Protein Wisdom, Mark Steyn @ NRO (“There are two Americas: one in which John Edwards gives bland speeches of soporific niceness, the other in which his campaign blogger unleashes foaming rants of stereotypically obsessive derangement.”), Patterico (& welcome Michelle Malkin readers).