Dean Barnett

What was he thinking?

As one looks back at John Edwards and his Potty-Mouthed bloggers, that’s the question that keeps springing to mind. What circuit misfired in the Edwards campaign that led him to hire two of the blogosphere’s most notoriously bilious, hate-filled and obviously controversial denizens?

By now, the outlines of the scandal are well known. The week before last, John Edwards hired Amanda Marcotte as his webmaster and blogger-in-chief. Marcotte had previously blogged at a site called Pandagon where she routinely called people of faith “godbags” who blindly worshipped “jeebus” while trumpeting her own atheism in as indecorous a fashion as imaginable. Her “greatest hits” evidence the enlightened wit and expressive skills of the garden variety sociopath.

Marcotte’s success at blogging should also be kept in some sort of perspective. When mainstream media outlets tout her blogging curriculum vitae, they always seem to fail to mention that under Marcotte’s leadership Pandagon attracted roughly 10,000 visitors a day. While this does mean Marcotte had a successful blog, the figure of 10,000 devotees should have been a decidedly underwhelming one for a presidential campaign that needs mainstream appeal to get anywhere. As Edwards probably should have realized, there are a lot more “godbags” out there than blog-readers.

Last week and early this week, the controversy was limited to right wing bloggers (including me) who were having a good laugh at Edwards’ expense. For no apparent reason, Edwards sought out an association that would lard his campaign with unwanted and unneeded baggage. For those of us who are part of the blogosphere and observers of the blogosphere, it was obvious that Edwards’ political opponents would sooner or later make great mirth over the writings of Amanda Marcotte.

The mirth came sooner rather than later. Within a week of Marcotte’s hiring, the story crossed over from the blogosphere to the more respectable realms of the New York Times and CNN. As Wolf Blitzer and the Grey Lady documented Edwards’ strange hire, Edwards had a decision to make – lance the Amanda Marcotte boil immediately or wait for it to come back at him in another news cycle.

Edwards acted promptly. He fired Marcotte and one of her colleagues in potty-blogging. His campaign, however, maintained a curious radio silence pertaining to the terminations. Other than a background notice to Salon that alerted Salon alone of the firings, no one knew exactly what was going on at Edwards HQ.

Dean Barnett

Dean Barnett blogs almost daily at He has also been a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard's online edition, The Daily Standard. He can be reached for comment at

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