there's been a bit of a tempest in a teapot in the political blogosphere centering on the john edwards campaign and his hiring of amanda marcotte and erin mcewen, bloggers from pendagon and shakespeare's sister (respectively). like many bloggers (me included) their language has been at times, eh, colorful. saucy, you might say.
the right-wing noise machine, in an attempt to smear edwards, has focused its atttention on the hirings, demanding that edwards fire them. to his credit, edwards stood up and said no, and apparently reversed a decision to let go marcotte and mcewen.
the most striking thing about the reaction of the right-wing bloggers and advocates like michelle malkin and william donohoe (head of a conservative catholic group) is that those chattering the loudest represet some of the worst in hateful speech on tv, radio and the internet. glenn greenwald has led the way in documenting how vile these people can be. i linked to but one post of many that greenwald's done on the subject. digby (in the post linked above) and media matters has also covered the issue pretty well. (update, 2/9, 8:06am...the ohio for john edwards blog culls a bunch of donohue's greatest hits as collected by media matters) in addition to the hypocrisy, greenwald, digby and media matters challenge the press to do a bit of their own research, to not simply take the word of right that the only the left are screeching madmen. google's a helluva tool, man.
this also brings up the issue of the maturation of the blogosphere, political and otherwise. i think this may represent a change in the calculations of some bloggers and how they deal with profanity. i wonder if there might be a toning down of the profanity by some bloggers who see a stint on a presidential or other high profile campaign as a part of their future. since i don't hold those aspirations i take a few more liberties. but only when it serves a purpose. this isn't some prudist crusade, as a trip through my own writings will show.
i do believe, however, that higher profile bloggers and diarists who post to daily kos ought to take a moment and think about whether the profanity hurts or helps the argument. blogs are sometimes read by people a work -- a huge headline with FUCK in it tends to jump off a screen. political blogs can be great tools for high school civics teachers to use to provide examples of how public participation in poliical discourse has changed over time, from the hyde park soapbox to the philadelphia publik houses to the internet. do we really want to be party to inculcating kids into a world of political discourse that's even more shrill and nasty than the heated partisanship of 19th century newspapers?
in other words, just because you can do it doesn't mean you have to. there is some honor in the high road, and you can make your point just as effectively.
lastly, what to do about the immeidate situation of the hypocrisy and smear tactics of the right wing hate machine? well, in the same way that it's best to knock down the schoolyard bully and to punch a shark in the nose, edwards and the rest of the dems in the race and the netroots writ large need to launch a sustained attack on the right-wing hate mongers -- from broadcasters like limbaugh and hannity to pundits like coulter and bloggers like malikn and reynolds. the left needs to frame the story to the mainstream media that these people are not purveyors or arbiters of civil discourse but are in fact a large part of the problem. arguably, it's limbaugh who started filling the cesspool - remember that he made his bones with a barrage of anti-liberal and anti-clinton screeds.
whenever edwards is asked about it he ought to respond with a comment to the effect that reporters should spend some time reading powerline, malkin, lgf, instapundit, etc. his bloggers should regularly post links to blogs that document the hypocrisy, and they should do their own digging as well. each of the dem candidates should echo this strategy until the mainstream media finally begins to show the petty haters for what they are.
remember, mccarthy went on and on until someone finally questioned his decency and showed him to be a naked emperor. it's time to disrobe the emperors of hate and hypocrisy.