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Archive for the ‘John Edwards’ Category

This morning, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney introduced columnist Ann Coulter by pronouncing, “I am happy to hear that after you hear from me, you will hear from Ann Coulter. That is a good thing. Oh yeah!” After her speech Coulter, with a smug and knowing smile, admitted, “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”

Conservative talkers will undoubtedly claim that Coulter’s comments were a joke and blame the mainstream media for not giving Coulter the benefit of the doubt, as they had done for Kerry; if the media rationalized Kerry’s embarrassing comments about our troops as a joke gone awry, why then, are they taking Coulter’s comments so seriously?

Well, for three reasons, really. First, Coulter has a history and a penchant for making erroneous, sensationalist, and attention grabbing comments orchestrated to manufacture controversy and promote the Coulter brand of political discourse to narrow minded Conservatives. Second, as Think Progress has reported, previously, Coulter has put “even money” on Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) “[c]oming out of the closet,” said Bill Clinton shows “some level of latent homosexuality,” and called Vice President Al Gore a “total fag.” And third, the term ‘fag’ is associated with gay-bashing, nasty homophobia, and even murderous hate crimes. According to one source, “it is often claimed that the derivation is associated directly with faggot meaning “bundle of sticks for burning”, since homosexuals were supposedly burnt at the stake in medieval England. This, however, was never an established punishment for homosexuality in England, although, according to one source, those accused of homosexual acts were sometimes doused in fuel and used in place of sticks for the burning of supposed witches.”

If the Republican Party establishment does not condemn such language, the very history of which promotes violence against a minority population, their silence should be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of hate speech. If this party wishes to advance their agenda and rally its base by promoting hateful commentary, they are no better than the homophobes who kill homosexuals; Coulter’s rhetorical slur is a white collar version of a violent gay-bashing.

— Igor Volsky

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How long are we going to allow conservatives to frame the political debate?

Even before I finished blogging about the so-called Pelosi-plane scandal, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin was obsessing over the ‘profane’ comments of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, two progressive bloggers presidential candidate John Edwards hired to run his blog. Now the New York Times has picked up the story.

John Edwards learned the hard way this week of the perils of grafting the raucous culture of the Internet to the decidedly staider world of a presidential campaign. Mr. Edwards announced on Thursday, after 36 hours of deliberation, that he would keep on his campaign staff two liberal feminist bloggers with long cybertrails of incendiary comments on sex, religion and politics.

Deliberations over the fate of the two bloggers, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, created a crisis in Mr. Edwards’s nascent campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and illuminated the treacherous road ahead as candidates of both parties try to harness the growing power of the online world.

[…]

Mr. Edwards stumbled into this minefield ahead of his rivals for the presidency, but many of the other candidates could face similar problems as they try to integrate the passionate, provocative and freewheeling political discourse that flourishes on the Internet into more tightly controlled means of traditional campaign.

You can read some of the posts in question here. Buy while the Times is concerned about the perils of democracy, the paper, and the mainstream media more generally, regularly broadcast the bigotry of Jerry Falwell, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity etc. Corporate sponsored hate speech is somehow more acceptable than carefully placed profanity, used for rhetorical spice. So long as you frame your debate in proper English, wear a suit and tie, and bring in commercial revenue, your speech, regardless of its hateful content, is considered acceptable.

Deterring Americans from actively participating in government policy has good historical precedent. While crafting the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison believed that power should be delegated to “the wealth of the nation,” not the general public, a group they affectionately labeled the “great beast.” And while Hamilton tried to overcome the “imprudence of democracy,” Thomas Jefferson observed that the “great beast” was “illy qualified to legislate for the Union.” In the early 20th century, President Woodrow Wilson recognized that physical coercion was a tool of the past, and that the best way to ensure that men with “elevated ideals” remain in power was to “manufacture consent” for the general public. This is a cruel but necessary “evil” since only “responsible men” could manage the interests that “elude public opinion entirely.”

Edwards did the right thing in keeping the two bloggers on staff. The free exchange of ideas must not conform to the ‘traditional’ mode of campaigns or the expectations of the corporate media. Conservative bloggers don’t get to determine what is ‘proper’ and the media must not provide them with a soap box from which to stifle democratic expression. Most importantly, we must not allow these manufactured controversies to distract from the issues. America deserves better; we don’t have to conform to the mold of corporate expectations.

— Igor Volsky

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Quick note: Why don’t Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have ‘issue’ sections on their campaign websites while John Edwards, Joe Biden and most of the other ‘less viable candidates’ do? The two frontrunners for the Democratic nomination are running on image, not issues. As Noam Chomsky once told me, the same people who sell you toothpaste market political candidates.

— Igor Volsky

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