In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss Obama's actions against Russia, Banter's coverage of the Abby Martin story and what we'd like to see at CPAC '14.
1. It's obvious the Republicans are going to crucify President Obama no matter what he does on the Ukraine situation (since they already are). Do you think there's any way he can keep Russia in check and satisfy the GOP loonies at the same time or is it just impossible?
Ben: Personally, I think Obama understands full well that the US is in no position to use military force against Russia. The last thing he wants is to get involved in more global conflicts after a decade of failed US foreign interventions. I shouldn't think he cares too much what the Republicans think - they're pretty much irrelevant when it comes to foreign policy given Obama is in his second term and doesn't have to pander to them. However, he'll be smart about Russia's act of aggression while making sure that Americans know he isn't a sissy (an annoying part of any president's job). He'll continue to strongly denounce Putin's actions and let Putin understand there will be a political and economic price to pay. There's not much else he can do really - and that's a good thing given America doesn't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to illegal wars anyway.
Chez: Keeping Russia in check will be difficult, even with the backing of the EU. Satisfying the Republicans in Congress will be impossible. Since their hatred of him has no attachment to reality and can often shamelessly contradict prior comments about him, you're not dealing with a group of people ever above a petty attack in the name of scoring political points. I honestly don't know what the hell Obama can really do to stop the Russian occupation of Crimea if Putin is truly determined, but even if he does he won't ever get an once of credit for it from his political enemies.
Bob: Something tells me he's not so concerned about any GOP loonies. There's no appeasing anyone who three months ago were declaring Pooty-Poot the Man Of The Year, while masturbating to his half-naked horsey photo-op. So clearly the president is going to take reasonable steps to hit Russia for this act of aggression. But there won't be an invasion. There won't be military action. That said, there's no telling how Putin will react. He's unpredictable.
2. The internal debate at The Daily Banter over the Abby Martin story was very refreshing in its honesty and I applaud you for it. Have you ever had a time before where you've held a story because you worried about the negative impact it might have?
Chez: I can't think of one we've ever held as a group. I know that there have been a couple of stories that I've scrapped personally because I felt that I just didn't have what I needed to make it come together. As for the negative impact, throughout my writing career I've definitely run a few items that looking back were probably a bad idea. Maybe because the hurt they caused was, in the end, not worth the knowledge that I put something I felt strongly about out there into the open. It's definitely an occupational hazard that something you write, even if it's correct and legitimate, will cause pain. I hope knowing that makes you better at what you do -- the ability to take the real-world impact into consideration. On the other hand, you can't censor yourself if your material is good, your facts are straight, and the whole thing matters. It's a tough tightrope to walk.
Bob: There have been a couple of times when an idea was floated that I couldn't really embrace and lobbied to abandon. Honestly, I can't remember what the instances were, but I know we've occasionally discussed whether to post a particular angle on a topic and I've voted to kill the idea. And there have been a few things that we've posted, which, in hindsight, I wish we hadn't. But like Chez, I can't tell you how many times I've vetoed my own material -- sometimes after I've already written 500 words, either because something else breaks in the news, or because I don't have the angle nailed. And going back even farther in time, there's a laundry list of blog posts I absolutely regret, a few of which appeared over at The Huffington Post.
Ben: Thanks Lisa - appreciate the kind words. Very good question too. I've sometime held stories because they didn't make much sense after completing them. I can't tell you the amount of times I've written something, gotten lost half way through, then tried to pull it all together without much success. There have also been a few occasions where I've gone after someone pretty nastily, then decided I was being a complete asshole and canned it. As for a specific example, I was once considering really going after Radley Balko for some libertarian nonsense he was spewing, then happened to get introduced to him in a bar by a good friend of mine. He was extremely pleasant and chatty and I completely lost my venom for him and decided to go after another lunatic libertarian instead. It's kind of annoying finding out you quite like people you are supposed to hate.
3. What would you most like to see happen at CPAC 2014, just for a laugh?
Bob: Wayne LaPierre shoots his eye out.
Chez: A fire?
Ben: It being invaded by up male strippers. There would be a hilarious mixture of outrage and uncontrollable fawning (congressman Aaron Schock's reaction would be absolutely priceless).