In a column last month, I wrote about the difficulties facing the new Democratic majority, which wants to come across as reasonable and responsible, but finds itself beholden to the angry left, which helped get it elected.
Now, John Edwards finds himself in the same quandary. By disavowing his vote for the Iraq War and pushing a progressive domestic agenda, Edwards has gained popularity among the so-called “netroots.” But this week, he faces a make or break moment as far as the left is concerned. The controversy surrounds his hiring of far left bloggers from Pandagon and Shakespeare’s Sister to work on his campaign. That lead to a firestorm of criticism on the right, and even from Terry Moran, that Edwards should not be hiring bloggers who have a history of angry, hate-filled, profanity-laced, anti-Christian, writings. Yesterday, Salon reported that Edwards had fired the bloggers, but so far that hasn’t been confirmed. But the Salon report triggered fears among liberal bloggers that Edwards was caving into the right wing. Chris Bowers at MyDD even wrote, “While there is no way I will support Edwards with Amanda and Melissa are fired, I will immediately become a staunch Edwards supporter if they are not fired.” In a later post, Bowers explained how he could decide his Democratic choice for President based on such a seemingly trivial matter. “I have spent nearly the last four years of my life working on full-time progressive movement building…I would rather find a new line of work than, in a Democratic primary, support a candidate who first courts the progressive movement, and then throws it under the bus at the first sign of pushback from the right-wing.” Meanwhile, DailyKos poster Karago X argues that silence among the other presidential contenders is not acceptable, because if Edwards caves, then the “right wing shame porn” machine will eventually go after them as well. “If you want Edwards to stand up, realize that you’re going to have to demand that all the campaigns stand up. Literally. They’re going to have to say that they stand by Edwards.”
This is fun to watch. Stay tuned.