For Clinton, A Following Of 'Marshans'
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
-LAS VEGAS -- Blogger Michelle Marshall has a confession to make. She's one die-hard Clintonite who has already moved on. She's ready to vote for Sen. Barack Obama.
But don't tell that to the legions of Hillary Clinton fans who have made Marshall their de facto leader. They're the faithful, the ones who call themselves "Marshans," read her posts every day, send checks to her Web site and refuse to believe that anyone other than Clinton can beat Sen. John McCain.
In recent weeks, as Clinton's withdrawal from the race has become all but inevitable, Marshall has tried to tiptoe toward leading her followers to accept Obama as the nominee. But every time she suggests that it might be over for Clinton, she is bombarded by comments to the contrary.
"My readers are really hurt. They've got their heart and soul in it," Marshall said. "I don't have that. I'm not angry with anyone. I just want [Democrats] to win."
This would come as an unwelcome surprise to the Hillary lovers who have found an outlet for their angst on Marshall's Web site, TaylorMarsh.com. Her online persona bears the stage name Marshall adopted decades ago when she sang off-Broadway. Today, the name is synonymous with unrelenting devotion to Clinton, as Marshall's blog has pounded away at the Democratic National Committee, Obama and anything else that stood in the way of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Marshall's blog is ranked in the top 5,000 most-read blogs on Technorati, which indexes and ranks millions of blogs.
Throughout the primary campaign, Marshall and her readers have raised money for Clinton, organized calls to superdelegates and helped send volunteers to primary states. But mostly the Marsh fans have come together to hash and rehash every little development in a campaign that has swung wildly between enormous highs and crushing lows.
Sometimes, such as last weekend, the two seem to happen simultaneously. Clinton won big in Puerto Rico, but lost the decision on Michigan's delegates. The win was evidence of Clinton's strength, Marshall said, and the Michigan resolution was evidence of the obstacles the Democratic Party is putting in her path.
"The time has come for a third party," wrote someone posting under the name HyTimes in the comments section of her blog. "The Democratic (sic sic sic) Party has thrown the Clintons under their bus."
"If she suspends rather than ends [her campaign] it means she can still step in to save this sorry party when Obama implodes before August," offered another contributor.
In her early days of blogging about the Democratic primary, Marshall's readers were few and her writings mild. But as the contest heated up, her commentary became as fiery as her red hair. Obama supporters who post unfavorable comments about Clinton are called "Obama trolls," superdelegates are "spineless" and "lack the courage" to make Clinton the nominee. Marshall is now so reviled by some of Obama's supporters that they've tried to discredit her on their own blogs.
"Nobody's more in touch with Clinton supporters, except maybe the Clinton campaign," Marshall bragged one morning in the loft office of her stucco home in Las Vegas, after reading her e-mails and clicking through the thousands of comments left on her blog after a recent primary.
Marshall first attracted Clinton voters when she wrote an item about the terse reply Pentagon officials issued to the New York senator last summer when she asked whether they had a plan to get out of Iraq. Marshall posted an item that said: "[They] might as well have said, Lady, leave this to us. Your queries are aiding the enemy."