Both Democrats and the netroots won a big victory today when John Edwards refused to cave into the pressure of a right wing smear job. This was huge in several ways:
1--The vast majority of established, beltway consultants would have told Edwards to fire Melissa and Amanda. By not doing so, it shows that he is capable of moving beyond tired, worn out advice. He is open to new ideas, including those coming from the netroots. We need more leaders like that.
2--It sets a precedent for all other Democratic campaigns this cycle when it comes to right-wing smear jobs and swiftboating. Unlike in the past, it shows that Democrats don't have to cave, and are not ready to cave. Any other campaign in a similar situation will now be judged by the yardstick Edwards has laid down. At this point, caving will make you look very bad.
3--Relative to the Republican Noise Machine dominated established news media, it increases the power of the netroots as a voice in the Democratic party. They listened to us, not to the establishment, and not to the right-wing. This will help build the movement, and free the Democratic Party from conservative Republican influence in our primaries. We are one step closer to choosing our leaders on our own.
Great victories indeed. I am so relieved for Amanda and Melissa. I am just as relieved for John Edwards, who I really did not want to write off my list of potential candidates to support in the primary. Now, I will happily identify myself as an Edwards supporter. The only way I could imagine that changing is if another candidate shows a superior ability to help grow the movement. While there are a few more with that potential, no one has really come to close stepping up yet.
Still, despite our victories, this is far from over. First, because he refused to cave to right-wing pressure and establishment campaign advice, Edwards will receive a significant amount of criticism. When this happens, we need to remember that he stood with us during this fight, and so we have to stand with him against forthcoming attacks. This goes for everyone, whether or not you are an Edwards supporter. He didn't throw us under the bus, and so we can't let him get thrown under the bus, even-- especially-- if another Democratic campaign is trying to do the throwing.
Second, while Edwards did not cave into right-wing pressure, which was dutifully stenographed by the media, the power structure that allows Republicans to push any conceivable smear of Democrats and progressives into national focus is still fully operational. The current, bullshit attacks on Pelosi are a case in point. As such, it is time to turn our attention to how this story was reported on in the first place.
It is bitterly ironic that established news outlets are failed to provide context, do proper research, vet sources, and otherwise uphold basic standards of journalism on a story about bloggers. After all, bloggers often receive criticisms of this sort from the established media. However, few people heard about William Donahue's long history of vicious religious intolerance-- instead, they only heard that he was a Catholic who wanted Amanda and Melissa fired. Also, few people heard that John McCain's staff has been criticized for controversies far surpassing this-- instead, most were given the impression that this was the first case of a blogger / campaign controversy this cycle. Others heard outright falsehoods about the story, such as the notion that Amanda tried to delete her past comments.
Now, it is time the media hears from you about this. BlogPac has set up a page where you can email the news organizations and reporters who acted as stenographers for the right-wing smear machine on this story. Take action, and contact them now. Tell them to do their jobs instead of being mega-phones for the Republican Noise Machine.