In the world of politics, bloggers are the new kids on the block. In a relatively short time they have made a significant impact on politics as we know it. The new relationship between bloggers and politicians sometimes makes for an interesting and exciting dynamic, as was the case this week when high drama surrounded the hiring, and almost firing, of two bloggers by John Edwards' presidential campaign. The controversy reveals much about the growing role blogs are playing in political campaigns, and even more about the Edwards campaign in particular.
The drama began when it became known that the Edwards campaign had hired Amanda Marcotte of the blog Pandagon to serve as its "blogmaster." Reaction from the right side of the blogosphere was swift and critical of Edwards for hiring Marcotte, who was well known for her caustic, profanity-laced attacks on those with whom she disagrees. Not only did Marcotte come under fire for being a potty mouth, but also for anti-Christian, specifically anti-Catholic, statements.
Another blogger hired by the Edwards campaign, Melissa McEwan, of the blog Shakespeare's Sister, had some issues as well, including use of the word "Christofascists" to refer to Christian conservatives in her blogging.
Edwards faces the same tightrope challenge all presidential candidates face. He must speak to his base in the primary, but not so much so that he takes positions or creates an image that dooms his chances with the greater electorate in the general election.
When a campaign hires anyone, it runs the risk of a few skeletons falling out of a closet, but in many ways hiring bloggers is less risky. On one hand, the blogosphere is the Wild West and almost anything goes. At the same time, though, everything is "out there" for all the world to see.
Read an archive of blog posts and you will likely learn more about a blogger than you would ever want to know, including not only their deepest thoughts, but possibly even what they had for breakfast. That is why the hiring of Marcotte and McEwan was so surprising, considering everything they have written on their blogs was easily accessible to anyone who bothered to look.