Via Glenn Greenwald, I see that John Edwards did the right thing and didn’t buckle under to the rightwing scream machine. Those jerkoffs don’t care about offensive language and were just using it as an excuse to take Edwards off-message and smear Dems and leftwing bloggers in general. But I don’t care if Pope John Paul II rose up from the grave to protest the hiring of those two bloggers, that’s just not how this works. (Thus said, I would have a new found respect for the afterlife, were that to happen).
I was really worried that Edwards was going to screw this up, especially after the “exclusive” from Salon which said they were already fired. I always thought Edwards was smarter than that and found it hard to believe he would have given up on this so easily. For him to have buckled under would have been a clear signal that Edwards really didn’t get it. As Greenwald suggests, nobody’s going to cast their vote based upon the hiring of two bloggers that even I’m only barely familiar with.
But that’s part of the problem with all this: How do you walk the line between ignoring the cries of the rightwing jackals, without allowing a political-insider story to become a national story by allowing the “scandal” to fester? Because this story was quite a few layers from being anywhere close to something that most Americans would care about. Even a few days of CNN and NY Times coverage isn’t enough to blast through the typical American’s blasé attitude about political stories; and that goes for the people who regularly vote, too.
So normally, it’s enough to give a decent response and weather through the storm than to either buckle-under or fight full-on. Because the “storm” is usually only effective on the thin layer of people who follow politics regularly, but don’t get in-depth enough to find out the truth for themselves. And that’s a very thin layer, indeed. Particularly now that the blogosphere has allowed people more access to quickie insider knowledge than was previously ever known. Just my daily reading of a handful of bloggers is enough to keep me abreast of almost all political stories.
And this is something that Republicans have been banking on for years, but that Dems are only now picking up on. And that only deepened the impression that Republicans were stoic leaders who were ready to fight and that Dems were cowardly pussies always ready to run. And while Republican stonewalling of scandals they should have backed-down from (Foley, Plame, Watergate) lead to tremendous downfalls; the Dems’ constant retreat from every scandal does far more to bring down the party.
Sure, the specific Republican scandals are remembered longer, but the overall effect of the Democrats’ cowardice is felt more. As soon as you start discussing a scandal on its merits, you’ve already undermined your own case, and ironically, made it a bigger story than it was before. And that’s what we saw during the Clinton Administration. And when we see Dick Cheney stonewalling everything down to his personnel choices, that’s not because he’s a complete nutjob (though he is one); but because he knows how to play the game. Even the stonewalling itself should be a big scandal, but it’s not; because he’s so good at it. And while we shouldn’t go to that extreme, it’s almost better to face-off against any scandal than to flinch or buckle-under. And even addressing a scandal on its merits is considered flinching.
So it’s good to see that Edwards stared down this fake controversy. I honestly thought this is what he did, but I’ve been disappointed in the past. Particularly as the Edwards campaign seemed somewhat flatfooted with this one. In this day and age of relentless rightwing attacks and 24-hour news, there’s no excuse that we should go so long with only the support of fellow bloggers to hold us through. Edwards did the right thing, but I certainly hope he’ll do it a little more quickly next time.
P.S. For any political campaign out there looking for a tough-ass blogger who has consistently refused to smear any major religions, my email address isn’t too hard to find. That is assuming you don’t mind the fact that I’m unofficially running for president. But don’t worry, CPA’s are famous for their objectiveness and independence. And if you pay me enough, I’ll drop-out and endorse your candidate. That’s a win-win for everyone.