If the liberal blogs want to understand why so few people outside their narrow echo chamber take them seriously, and what it will take to gain the broader credibility they crave, they should look no further than their handling of the recent flap over John Edwards’ foul-mouthed blogger hires.Gerstein notes that the Edwards campaign is at fault for not carefully vetting the online bigotry of the bloggers before hiring them. He goes to note further, though, that the debacle -- particularly the response of the bloggers -- has deeper significance in demonstrating the callow, polarizing attack politics of the activist left:
This ugly morality tale - which mercifully concluded Tuesday with the second of the two offending online staffers resigning from the Edwards campaign - revealed the Kossacks in all their angry adolescent glory: impudent, impotent, unreflective and unaccountable.
Now, if this were an isolated incident, one could argue that the left-wing bloggers were just following one of the cardinal rules of modern hardball politics – when you can’t defend your position, go on offense and attack your critics.Marcotte apparently learned little from the episode, at least as far as one can tell from her entry up yesterday at the Huffington Post, where she denounced the "right wing noise machine" that "hounded me and the Edwards campaign with false accusations of anti-Catholic bigotry" (via Memeorandum).
But the reality is, as I experienced over and over again in the Lamont-Lieberman race, this is the liberal blogosphere’s standard-less operating procedure. They have decided that the best way to fight the “right-wing smear machine” that they so despise is to create an even more venomous, boundary-less, and destructive counterpart and fight ire with more ire.
It also goes to show just how deeply most liberal bloggers believe that Republicans and conservative are morally illegitimate, and as such, any criticism or argument made by the other side is on its face corrupt and dismissible. If it is said by Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who has a history of controversial statements himself, it automatically becomes invalid, no matter the inherent integrity of the underlying proposition.
What these liberal bloggers fail to appreciate is that this petty, polarizing approach is not how you ultimately win in politics – especially in an era when most average voters outside the ideological extremes are fed up with the shrill, reflexive partisanship that dominates Washington, and when the fastest growing party in America is no party.
According to Mary Eberstadt, writing in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Marcotte's Christian-bashing is far more representative of the far left than is recognized:
For what the blogger tempest really illuminates is a fact that could come to haunt the Democrats as they vie for national office: namely, that their past few wilderness years have also been boom years for the church-loathing liberal/left punditry. As a result, anti-Christian invective now graces (or disgraces) many of the books, magazines, Web sites and blogs to which liberals, including the Democratic elite, habitually look for ideas. One motto of this cottage industry is that the most serious threat to the American republic can be found in, no, not those religious fundamentalists, the ones that first leap to mind after 9/11; but, incredibly, certain other believers--our nation's Christians.Eberstadt concludes:
Sophisticates and secularists have always titillated themselves by despising the Bible Belt. But professional Christian-bashers have never been as "embedded" in the liberal mainstream as they are today. And therein lies a problem for Democrats. More Amanda Marcottes are not what the party needs as it scrambles to re-establish its religious bona fides with wary red-staters. No wonder so many Democratic candidates [like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who made campaign appearances with religious leaders this week] are in church. Now they really have something to pray about.For additional analysis of the controversy, check the entry at Chris Cillizza's politics blog at the Washington Post.