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I Wish There Were More Mayhill Fowlers

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Not just because she did us bloggers proud by presenting the unexpected scoop of the campaign, but because she is that rare Barack Obama admirer who can admit he's not perfect.

Obama himself is very good about admitting when he's wrong or when he's made a mistake. Quickly and convincingly. In his second book, he actually reads as humble.

Yet some of his most ardent supporters possess a total inability to admit he is human with flaws and foibles. Defensive isn't even the word for them. Thin-skinned doesn't begin to describe them. They're abjectly terrified and enraged by every single thing a Clinton (or anyone) says about their darling.

To hear many of his supporters talk, it is as though we have all been banished from a political Eden, a paradise where Obama's winning was to be just a formality. He would just go to the post office and fill out a change-of-address form and move gloriously in to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. right away while the whole country (even Republicans!) swoons and applauds.

But then this wicked creature named Hillary came along with her normal, earthbound, in fact rather ham-fisted political campaign. Obama could've easily beaten McCain and the vicious right-wing smear machine had it not been for this horrible woman who has spoiled everything by daring to throw some elbows. And now the perfect fantasy is shattered.

It shattered that easily.

And now along comes Mayhill Fowler. "Bittergate" shows clearly how the most cultish Obama fans can't conceive of a supporter taking an objective look at something their candidate does and finding fault, or questioning anything about him.

When I first heard about Bittergate (could this be the best "-gate" name since the original?) on Saturday afternoon and then found out where it started, I was immediately very proud of my fellow HuffPoster. She has more than put Off The Bus on the map!

I've been enjoying her posts all along. They feature on-the-ground and "off-the-bus" (i.e., non-insider) reportage, mixed with her own thoughts and opinions. (OffTheBus cofounder Jay Rosen puts the concept of the citizen journalist in context in this thoroughly enlightening post about Bittergate.) Fowler is open and curious: Sometimes the net positive in one of her posts seems to shake out for Hillary, sometimes for Barack.

I really feel for Mayhill right now because: 1) She has toiled in relative obscurity, for free, here at HuffPost, then through her amazing post she has influenced the course of this campaign as directly as anything else has, period, and she gets almost zero credit by name, at least in the MSM -- it's all "as first reported on the Huffington Post..." and increasingly not even that; and 2) It can't be comfortable for her as someone who gave the maximum donation to Obama to now be seen as a traitoress to his "movement." And to do so of all places at the site some claim should be renamed the Obamington Post (actually I just made that up) because of its rather noticeable pro-Obama slant in coverage.

Conspiracy theories are flying fast online in the effort to smear the messenger. She's not a "citizen journalist," she's got an agenda! She's actually a paid Hillary shill in disguise! McCain paid her to go to this fundraiser and tape Barack! And, uh, to make Barack say something "inartful"! And my favorite: Hillary gave Fowler the money she donated to Obama! (Months ago? Knowing what Barack would say last week?)

This is the kind of paranoid garbage that is making this primary so ugly.

Obama said what he said regardless of the presence of Mayhill Fowler. Nothing's off the record when you're facing the public (which he was, even if it was in a private home).

I stand with Mayhill and encourage others to consider the example of integrity she has given us. She explained that as much as she likes and supports Obama, his comment gave her pause, and she thought others should know about it.

It's called antiseptic sunlight, kids. And Barack has shown that he can take it, by addressing the controversy head on over the last few days. See, I admire that.