Amanda has called it quits, resigning from the Edwards campaign. Pandagon is semi-down at the moment; apparently she is getting a lot of traffic. (So there’s that silver lining for her.) Predictably, she’s getting a lot of hate mail; some of it is really vile stuff, and those people ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Interestingly, there’s no story about her decision at the Edwards site. (Her resignation is mentioned in the comments on a post about the kerfuffle.) My operating theory had been that Edwards fired her after she again went off on a theological tangent, but permitted her to spin it as a resignation to avoid more embarassment. But if that were the case, I would have expected a short formal post of the “we regret that…” variety; instead there’s nothing, which tells me that he’s pissed off and just wants it all to go away. So that would seem to indicate she did this on her own. But who knows; I’m sure we’ll see some interesting posts on the topic from Amanda in the near future.
It is amusing to me to see the endless blaming rhetoric that Pandagonians are deploying. From what I’ve gathered, there were four basic elements on the criticism of Marcotte’s work:
1) She dishonestly revised posts and tried to hide her views.
2) She said accusatory things about the Duke lacrosse players.
3) Her writing is foul-mouthed and vulgar.
4) Her writing is anti-Christian.
Point #1 appears to me to have been grossly overblown; I know that some of my co-bloggers here disagree, but I don’t see the big deal. Yeah, she should have handled it differently; there is a standard strikeout-and-retain practice that ethical bloggers have done for a long time now. Was anybody under the impression that Pandagon was presenting itself as a paragon of ethical blogging? Point #2 seems similarly transitory. Perhaps it has more resonance in North Carolina itself, but out here in flyover country there are a lot of opinions about criminal cases. It’s not Amanda’s job to maintain the presumption of innocence, any more than it’s my job to honor the results of a particular trial. OJ was guilty as hell, and I don’t care who knows I think it. Amanda thinks the Duke boys are guilty as hell; that’s her privilege.
From what I can see of the large-scale criticism of Amanda, points 1 and 2 don’t seem to be highly operative. William Donohue didn’t appear to care about Amanda’s views on Duke, or about whether or not she crossed her i’s and dotted her t’s when she waffled on a previous statement.
Point #3 seems obviously true; Amanda writes in a vulgar fashion. It’s not a crime, but it is a fact.
Point #4 seems obviously true, with a proviso that there’s a healthy debate to be had about what is, or isn’t, anti-Christian or anti-Catholic.
So what do Amanda’s defenders say about these points? Basically, “nuh unh!” and “Donohue sucks”. What is most interesting to me about her defenders on point #4 is that they all take an intentionalist viewpoint: your offense is invalid because that’s not what I really meant, and what I really meant is the issue, not your perception of my words. Which is fine – I’m an intentionalist myself, more or less, and I do think that it’s the intention that should control whether something is actually offensive, not the emotional reaction of the populace at large. I also think that Amanda’s intention was, in fact, anti-Christian/anti-Catholic, and that her that’s-not-what-I-meant defense is a crock. As she is fond of saying, “own your shit”. But it is very enjoyable to see lefties jumping on the intentionalist bandwagon when it suits the needs of the moment.
So where do I come down on all this? (Because I know you’re waiting with bated breath.)
As a blogger, there’s nothing at all wrong with Amanda. She’s entitled to her views, she’s entitled to her personal vision of Christianity as a uterus-devouring patriarchal rape machine, she’s entitled to write and speak like a sailor released from a ten-year vow of silence.
As a media staffer for a campaign, she’s utterly unsuited. Her rhetorical gifts lie in the area of polemic and rabble-rousing, not suave repackagings of progressive policy prescriptions. Her opinions are far out of the mainstream, and grossly offensive on their face to a vast swathe of the electorate, and – more critically – to a big chunk of voters that John Edwards really needs. It’s arguable that she should have known ahead of time that a presidential campaign would be a nightmare scenario for someone with her characteristics; I wouldn’t argue that, however, because she is young, inexperienced, and not particularly politically astute. The person who hired her, however, had better not have those characteristics – and they should have known better.
Although she is undoubtedly angry about what has happened, I suspect that things will work out OK for her. Her blog traffic is going to be through the roof, and a lot of those people are going to be Pandagon-style lefties who hadn’t heard about her before – some of the traffic will stick around. Unfortunately, I suspect that Amanda had craved some serious legitimacy – some official participation in the process. Nothing else would explain the way she rolled over for Edwards when her writing first became an issue. That legitimacy is never going to come, not without a revision to Amanda’s entire way of thinking that while possible, is hardly to be expected. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Pandagon will become a more bitter and angry place, and Amanda a more bitter and angry feminist blogger.
I’ll also predict that the next time a presidential campaign hires a high-profile blogger in a media role, it will be someone a lot more moderate and a lot more tempered in their language and viewpoint. That one is not so much out on a limb. 😉
(Updated to fix some line break issues – $!@%@#^ WordPress – and to make my first sentence more clear that Amanda has quit the Edwards campaign.)