Jane Hamsher of the blog Firedoglake is what tries to pass as a respectable left-wing blogger. Yet her posts consistently are long on invective and (unlike the work of her colleague Christy Smith) almost invariably devoid of analysis. At times, the invective is over the top, as when she depicted Joe Lieberman in blackface. Often, as in that case, it’s difficult to distinguish her writing from an unusually vicious temper tantrum.
Quin Hillyer brings to our attention the latest example, a post about Georgia Congressman Jim Marshall. Rep. Marshall was one of two Democrats who voted not to override President Bush’s veto of the Democrats’ SCHIP expansion legislation. This produced a typical tirade from Hamsher in which she tried to make Marshall seem like a racist.
Hamsher suggested that Marshall “was probably still in afterglow from his bigot embrace with Georgia ID voter suppression legislation author Erick Erickson.” She then offered Marshall this advice: “By the way Jim, cavorting with racists and a wink-wink to Jim Crow as a way to curry favor with wingnut voters is not acceptable within the Democratic party. Good luck with your primary.”
Hamsher’s attempt to attack Marshall through Erickson and the Georgia voter ID law fails at every level. First, Marshall did not “cavort” with Erickson; Erick simply praised Marshall’s vote on SCHIP expansion. Second, as Hillyer explains, courts have thrown out race-based challenges to voter ID laws because plaintiffs have failed to produce evidence that they cause racial hardship. Thus, even if Marshall agreed with the law (and there’s no evidence that he does) or had associated himself in any way with Erickson (and there’s no indication that he has), Hamsher’s use of the race card would be specious.
Third, again per Hillyer, “accusing Marshall of racism or even of indifference to racism, is laughable,” given his record and the solid support he has always received from African-Americans in Macon, where he was a popular mayor. Further, if it comes to that, Erickson himself served as campaign manager for a black Democratic councilwoman Miriam Paris and publicly endorsed a black mayoral candidate over his white opponent. By contrast, Hamsher’s signal contribution to racial good will and understanding was the above-mentioned depiction of Sen. Lieberman in blackface.
Finally, what of Hamsher’s comment about Marshall’s primary? The fact is that Marshall is the only Democrat with any chance of holding his district. He won the seat in 2002 with 51 percent of the vote. In 2004, he won easily, with 63 percent of the vote, compared to 44 percent for John Kerry. In 2006, the boundaries of the seat were changed dramatically, with the percentage of African-Americans shrinking from 40 percent to 33 percent. Nonetheless, Marshall was able to hold the seat with 51 percent of the vote, in what (if I recall correctly) was the closest call for any Democratic incumbent.
So if Hamsher wants to get behind a Ned Lamont wannabe in Macon, I wish her well. Marshall by all accounts is a good man (he left Princeton to enlist in Vietnam where he was wounded and received two Bronze Stars), but more often than not he votes with the Democrats. A Republican pick-up in a natural Republican area would be welcome. Perhaps Hamsher should run this by Kos first, though.
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