In Mario Puzo's novel and Academy Award winning film , the Corleone crime family used Tom Hagen as its counselor or consigliere. While Hagen was pretty competent as consigliere for ordinary day-to-day business, his skills were insufficient to match the deviousness of hard-core inter-family warfare. During his tenure as consigliere, he failed to perceive a devious plot against Sonny, the acting head of the family, never conceiving that the Sonny's brother-in-law Carlo could have taken money from a rival family to batter Sonny's sister as a means of luring an enraged Sonny out from his bunker to his death in a assassination trap at a toll booth. Years later, Sonny's surviving brother Michael as the new head of the family reluctantly told Tom Hagen that Tom was "not a wartime consigliere," and locked him out of future war strategy sessions.
Both the Edwards campaign and the progressive blogosphere have had several days of warfare. Whether there are indeed wartime consiglieri among either group remains to be seen, though I am cautiously optimistic for the netroots.
On its surface, the attack by William Donohue against the Edwards campaign and its new bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan looks like another attempt by the right-winger-than-thou Catholic League to rouse up its membership over another reprehensible Failure to be Loved Totally By A Non-Catholic(tm). The targets look quite convenient: a couple of cheeky, rude feminist bloggers from the cheeky, rude left blogosphere, and a very viable pro-choice Democratic presidential primary candidate.
One is tempted to view this as tactical. Just like Carlo Rizzi beating his pregnant wife looked like spousal abuse (which it was) rather than a gang-land assassination trap.
William Donohue plays resentful Jew-baiting games, is more obsessed with anal sex than those who engage in it, thinks of lesbians as belonging in an asylum. And gets paid - well - for all of the above. His real client, though, is not American Catholics. He is essentially the only representative you will see for his organization. Why? Because most Catholics either ignore him, are uncomfortable with him or hold him in contempt. His gratuitous slaps at Jews do not reflect the reality of American Catholics, who have gone as far or farther towards interfaith reconcilation with the Jewish community than almost any other Christian church or denomination in the last 40 years. Even his demeaning attacks on gays and lesbians do not reflect Church teaching, which while opposing same-sex sexual practices recognizes the human dignity of gay and lesbian people, which Donohue abjectly refuses to recognize.
American Catholics have community leaders - bishops, cardinals, priests, deacons, lay leaders, volunteers, religious instructors, organizers of truly massive works of charity and justice. They don't need or want William Donohue. And, in reality, he does not need them either. What Donohue needs is a funding base and a perceived grievance, and he works hard to generate both in pursuit of his real agenda, which is to take bigoted shots for fun and profit.
The real client for Donohue is the nasty, resentful edge of the right wing within the Catholic Church. If Catholics en masse were his client, he would have some liberal and moderate Catholic allies. He has none. His environment and personal professed faith are Roman Catholic, but his brand of nastiness is not "Catholic" just as "God Hates Fags" is not Baptist when some illiterate writes it on a sign in a Baptist church. Donohue is a right-wing tool, just like Kos' own laptop is a liberal Democratic tool.
What Donohue did for his real client is not just to wound a presidential candidate or embarrass a couple of mouthy bloggers with rude, perhaps unfair things to say about the Church. What Donohue did for his real client - resentful right-wingers who happen to be mostly Catholic - is to attack Kos.
And Lindsay Beyerstein.
And Matt Stoller.
And Chris Bowers.
And Armando (though I know he can take it....)
And Atrios and Blue Jersey and Mike Stark and Raising Kaine and BlogPac and ActBlue and Drinking Liberally and MoveOn and the guys who made the Kiss Float and every feminist blog and every gay-positive blog and every blog that proudly supports separation of church and state, and every liberal blog that you never heard and, sadly, may never hear of. He is trying to intimidate my little Maryland libertarian/progressive blog too; maybe when it and I develop further it will merit a direct attack by such right-wing thugs.
This was a strategic hit on the netroots as an institution, disguised shrewdly as harassment John Edwards, his teeth and his hair. I, for one, don't want our culture shot dead on the causeway by this Jew-baiting asshole.
It's about making sure that bloggers get timid and liberal candidates get timid, such that only the tamest, Raggedy Ann and Andy commentators get jobs, the ones who lack the spice of lukewarm porridge.
It's about imposing norms on a culture of young, energetic and occasionally profane bloggers. Officer Donohue has stepped on your corner, gotten in your face and told you - us - what the rules for the corner are going to be. And if you don't follow his rules, kiss your future paycheck goodbye. He said this to you, my friend, not to Amanda Marcotte.
RedState's infamous hair-trigger banning for failing to salute
den Fuehr conservative community norms will get imposed on a lot of blogs, if Donohue gets his way. Thus we get returned culturally to the 7th grade, where we get sent to the principal's office for saying "fuck" among friends and comrades when the proud English-only-approved word "fuck" is the right word for the fucking occasion.
Thus a lot of our most dynamic and passionate voices get silenced, or at least pressured from entering political life full-time, because the pall is cast over anyone who dared once utter in HTML the ineffable Dodecagrammaton that begins with "m----...."
I do think that Bowers gets it. I suspect that Kos gets it. They are wartime consiglieri. But we all need to understand one fact, one core theorem to understand the trap: we are Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwen, and they are us [sic]. Donohue is shooting at them, but really aiming at all of us. We are all the voice that the right wing - desperate for a good day at bat - wants to drown.
This is bigger than condoms or one campaign or two bloggers or the word "fuck." It's about whether you will let a six-figure Jew-baiting gay-bashing asshole screw around with your culture, whether progressive blogging culture matters to you. I don't care whether Amanda and Melissa called for the Catholic Church to be disbanded or for the Pope to suffer stage 4 terminal flatulence; we must not allow an bigoted enemy of our progressive culture to dictate the way of life on the corner. WE are the cop, not Donohue, and we set the community norms, not he. If that means we decide to inflict some political punishment and painful damage on people who seek to intimidate and trash our movement, fine.
I, for one, will not cower in the dust.