Blogs Take On Madonna And Child

madonna, rocco, lourdes, rocco malawi david banda
Associated Press/LIZ ROSENBERG
Blogophile is written by's Melissa P. McNamara.

Madonna's decision to adopt an African baby has stirred more than a little criticism in the blogosphere. Plus, it seems like it was just yesterday that former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner was the Democratic Party's "It" boy. Now, he says "no thanks" to a 2008 presidential run, and many liberal bloggers are disappointed. And, Doonesbury's creator has a new blog. Find out what his latest project is below.

Madonna And Child

After a week of visiting child-care charities in Malawi, including one she funds to help AIDS orphans, Madonna's decision to adopt a Malawi baby has stirred controversy and more than a little criticism, especially in the blogosphere.

The baby, 1-year-old David Banda, has spent most of his life in the dilapidated Home of Hope Orphan Care Center near the Zambian border, and faced a bleak future after his mother died and his father could not support him. But while his father initially said he supports the adoption, many bloggers weren't nearly as understanding.

The baby was whisked past throngs of photographers on to a British Airways flight on Tuesday, likely oblivious to how his life might change, as he made his way to Madonna's home in Britain. Madonna and Guy Ritchie have temporary custody for 18 months, during which time they will be evaluated by the courts of Malawi per the tribal customs of the country, Madonna's publicist said.

Malawi's leading child rights group, however, said it would go to court to challenge the speedy court decision awarding the pop star temporary custody of the child. Human rights groups are concerned child protection regulations may have been swept aside to benefit a singer who has been generous to the impoverished, AIDS-stricken southern African nation.

"It's not like selling property," said a statement by Eye of the Child, a day after Malawi's High Court granted an interim order for Madonna to adopt the boy.

Many bloggers also question why the latest celebrity accessory these days is an internationally adopted child. Many claim it is a ploy for good PR. "Madonna could have spent equivalent money on funding thousands of AIDS orphans through infancy and primary school for the same cost as her celebrity adoption," Orwell's Ghost writes at RightSpeak. "However, that would not have brought her headlines and publicity."

"It raises lots of questions about whether people should be able to create and exploit an international 'orphan market.' Not every potential adopter is going to be the fine, upstanding person she is — so there are lots of potential pitfalls," a blogger at Southchat writes.

Plus, there are many children in the United States who need a home, others contend. Marc Andre Mongeon reminds readers that while adoption is a great thing, there are domestic children still waiting for homes. "The problem with these international adoptions by celebrities is that it is difficult to eliminate this impression that it is motivated in part or ... God forbid ... in total, by a desire for good PR," Mongeon writes at Fortress of Knowledge. "There are many many children available in the United States (and Canada) for adoption, that get little to no attention, due in part to the lack of information regarding domestic adoption and the bureaucratic delays."

Luna agrees. "While high profile people are off adopting kids around the world, our foster kids are slowing slipping away and becoming America's Invisible Children," she writes at MySpace.

There are also many online who defend Madonna's decision, arguing that she is putting her money where her mouth is, and is trying to make a difference in Africa. "The needs of Africa are so great it will take decades of earnest help to make a dent in its problems," Jesse writes at Confessions of a Political Junkie. "So why are critics dissing Madonna for attempting to change the life of one child? I don't see them investing time to care for a child or millions of cash in a land many in the industrialized world forgot."

Mark Who?

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner had it all: charisma, a moderate bent, and that politically alluring Southern heritage. So his surprise announcement that he has decided not to run for president in 2008 because he wants to spend more time with his family had bloggers taking to their keyboards.

Warner had never formally announced his candidacy, but had raised a lot of money, sparking speculation that he was contemplating a 2008 run. So eyebrows were raised in the blogosphere when he said he was dropping out to hang out with his family, with more than a few bloggers suspecting there was a more calculated reason for his decision.

"To announce in late '06 that you won't be running in '08, when you've already begun amassing your war chest and winning over opinion leaders, suggests something quite deliciously awry," Wonkette writes. "What is it?"

Bloggers at Jack and Jill Politics agree. "I know when I first heard the news and the default excuse of 'more time with my family,' I figured Warner decided that his own scandalous indiscretions were gonna remain private. The timing is just too interesting. Don't be surprised if another shoe drops soon," they write.

Other bloggers said perhaps Warner simply realized he wouldn't get his party's nomination. "Perhaps he just realized that the Democratic swarm of cockroaches is too hooked on the stupid path that will lead to Hillary's nomination and it wasn't worth the effort to fight that suicidal move. I told you the guy was smart," Warner Crocker writes at Life On The Wicked Stage.

Perhaps Warner's decision was a long time in coming, other bloggers suggest. Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit says Warner kept postponing an interview with him. "I don't know if that means that he's been uncertain about running for a while or not. When I talked to him on the phone in June, he said he wasn't sure if he was running," Reynolds writes. "A politician who tells the truth? No wonder he's bowing out."

Some are predicting what this could mean for other potential 2008 Democratic presidential candidates. Doug Daniels writes at The Next Prez that Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold "could gain support from some progressives who had been backing Warner as a potentially more electable alternative." And Marc at The World According To Mark says: "It remains to be whether a moderate can weather the primary process anymore, but in the hope that one still can, I'm now leaning the way of Senator Evan Bayh."

But Steven Okin is staking his bets on Hillary, and he's not alone. "While Hillary Clinton has many obstacles to overcome in her path to the oval office, I think she is capable of doing it. Hillary is a strong, smart woman who never relents in getting what she wants. She will not go quietly in the night," he writes at Real Politics.

Despite dropping out, Warner still has many online fans like Jeff Thigpen, who would give Warner their vote if he were to re-enter politics in the future. "I'm sure we'll see him on down the road. I also liked the way he campaigned in every part of Virginia, especially the southern and southeast part. He didn't write off rural areas and the Nascar vote as a Democrat," Jeff writes at Guilford County Register Of Deeds.

Operation Sandbox

Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury, is often candid about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in his comic strip. But he has taken his ideas a step further, using his Web site to launch a military blog he has created called The Sandbox.

The Sandbox is a forum for soldiers, family and spouses to speak not about politics and policy, but about "the unclassified details of deployment — the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd."

As Trudeau explained in an interview with, "I'm sure there are plenty of soldiers who have no use for my politics — or views on the war — but I don't seem to be meeting them."

"The many vets and wounded soldiers I've encountered so far just seem to appreciate the sustained attention to the many issues they're confronting," Trudeau added.

For Trudeau, The Sandbox is a continuation of his work to help the U.S. troops. He was recently at the Pentagon where he met with wounded soldiers, and has been writing a book based on his comic strip character, B.D., a National Guardsmen who lost his leg in the Iraq War during the battle of Fallujah.

Perhaps the blog is an effective new medium for Trudeau. In an interview with the Santa Barbara Independent, Trudeau says the "funny pages" are "probably" doomed. "I don't know anyone who is younger than 30 and reads my strip in a newspaper," he said. After all, Doonesbury, which is politically oriented, came to life in 1970.

The Sandbox features many heartfelt posts from soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, there is a post from a military wife who says instant messaging is a great way to maintain contact with her husband, but that now any delay in regular communication means "you begin to picture all sorts of horrors."

And sometimes politics do slip in to some posts. "It's easy to say WE have to go to war if you're not WE, and it's easy to say 'Bring home the troops' if they are not your brothers getting left behind on the return trip," a soldier writes in a recent post from Iraq, after describing a mortar attack.

The Sandbox is winning the hearts and minds of bloggers as well. "There is lots more and it's all good stuff. Bill Mauldin and Ernie Pyle would have been proud," Jeff Hess writes at Have Coffee Will Write.

Many people appreciate his outlook on the war on terror. "Gary Trudeau has always been very outspoken against the current Administration, but he's always shown that he was a true patriot for showing the real essence of this war on terror," a blogger at Steelsphere writes. "Between this blog, and his posting of all of the war casualties in his comic strip he seems to be one of the few actually fessing up to the realities of war."

Others enjoy the not-so-predictable outlooks expressed in the blog. "I just spent a half hour or so reading posts from soldiers, sailors and marines over there, and it's not quite what you'd expect," the Stranger at Blah3 writes. "Not pro-war, not anti, either. Just the people who serve this country in their own words. Worth a read."

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By Melissa McNamara