Marcotte encore

by Walter Olson on February 4, 2007

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).

{ 7 comments }

1 Jim Treacher 02.04.07 at 2:19 pm

Misogynist! (She’s a woman.)

2 Dana 02.04.07 at 2:28 pm

Thanks for the link!

The lovely Miss Marcotte is a good blogger (at least to judge by the size of her readership, which is a heck of a lot larger than mine!), but I have to wonder how someone who has been so free with her opinions can long tolerate the restrictions under which she’ll have to operate as Senator Edwards’ blogmistress.

It might be that the very things that make a blooger a good blogger unfit him for a position like the one Miss Marcotte accepted.

3 fishbane 02.04.07 at 2:41 pm

Scottsboro Boys days

Really? You see a parallel between black kids in the ’30s being sentenced to death by an all white jury on weak evidence and white kids at an elite university in 2006/7 being only accused of rape, after which the prosecutor is (rightfully) sanctioned?

I somehow doubt that the Duke Boys will be involved in a SCOTUS case over this, or spend years in jail over this.

4 From Inwood 02.04.07 at 8:13 pm

Fishbane

You say that you:

“somehow doubt that the Duke Boys will be involved in a SCOTUS case over this, or spend years in jail over this.”

Um, maybe that’s because the blogdom stopped that from happening.

5 TC 02.05.07 at 12:57 am

Actually we should all just be quiet and take lots of notes of her rantings, which will not end.

Then we can have us a class action suit against Edwards and git us a piece O dat fancy ranch he jest built!

6 Deoxy 02.05.07 at 11:36 am

Fishbane,

It’s been almost a year. The “evidence” was never worth the ink, much the less the paper.

And yet, the charges have not yet been dropped. And a significant portion of the public branded them as guilty, publicly, loudly, and repeatedly.

The parallels are certainly there (the guys must be guilty because of their race and the race of the accused, for instance). That we hav caught it BEFORE they spent years in jail is a GOOD thing, but that’s no thanks to the prosecutor and the media (among others). Their intent was the same.

7 Andy Wooster 02.05.07 at 3:14 pm

I don’t know who in Edwards’ campaign was responsible for Marcotte’s hiring (some have suggested it was his wife), but I think it’s clear that she’s not on the payroll for her opinions or for her writing ability. Edwards is paying her because she’s popular.

If he was only looking for someone to run a blog on his website, why would he pick Marcotte? Her prose is mediocre at best, poor at worst. It is my opinion that her excessive vulgarity and often angry tone gives her blogging a very crass feel to it. There are literally thousands of writers out in the blogosphere who are more eloquent than Marcotte.

Her stated positions also differ sharply from Edwards’ opinions as well. She’s an avowed socialist, she’s very hostile to all religion (Christianity in particular), she supports abortion on demand, gay marriage, etc.

Ted’s comment about judging a blogger based on the “most inflammatory of her thousands of past posts” reveals a gross ignorance of Marcotte’s writings. Far from being an aberration, Marcotte’s post on the Duke lacrosse is emblematic of her thought pattern, a pattern where males, particularly white males, are guilty until proven inn–errr, well I’m not sure if males can ever be let off the hook in Marcotte’s eyes.

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