Welcome to this week’s installment of The Daily Banter mailbag! We discuss Bob’s twitter beef with Glenn Greenwald, the scariness of the Sarah Palin movie and the dangers of a Romney Presidency.
Bob, read your piece on Greenwald with interest. I think the dude is a fanatic libertarian and can’t be reasoned with. Why did you bother interacting with him? You’re just going to get the same reply: war is bad, America is bad, the constitution should be interpreted literally etc etc. I say save your breath.
Bob: I don’t believe he’s entirely unreasonable, and there have been a couple of times when we’ve reached some sort of concensus. That said, my goal isn’t necessarily to change his mind on the usual issues, but instead to convince people who typically rubber-stamp some of the things he writes. I think there’s a misconception on the left that he’s always right — a sort of touchstone for progressive thought. Well, he doesn’t appear to be as progressive as he is, as you wrote, libertarian (and he’d object to me assigning of labels), and I strongly believe that many of the absolutist positions he holds will actually damage the progressive cause. Accountability for similarly-minded politicians should always be constructive and smart because, naturally, we want more progressive-leaning politicians to succeed. I don’t think Greenwald or his supporters understand this distinction and it hurts the movement.
Chez: I’m always telling Bob that it’s worthless arguing with Greenwald. Even if you put him in his place it’s a pyrrhic victory because ultimately you’re not going to sway him in his opinions or knock him from that throne he sits on in Rio, the one from which he issues all kinds of sweeping edicts about awful the U.S. is and how Bradley Manning’s a martyr and Barack Obama’s a judicial murderer or whatever-the-hell. Worst of all, once Greenwald’s legion of mindless acolytes figures out you’re debating him, they’ll descend on you en masse like some kind of Twitter virus. Greenwald’s incapable of budging on anything because, as Bob said, his mind can’t process nuance. I’m genuinely convinced that he has an at least mild form of Asperger’s and that’s what’s to blame for his long-winded, pedantic diatribes and what seems to be his complete lack of human emotion. Either that or he’s just an asshole.
Ben: I thought Bob’s argument with Greenwald was extremely interesting, and that both sides made excellent points. I find Greewald’s inability to understand the complexity of issues like war annoying sometimes – his views are dogmatic and inflexible making debate with him next to impossible. Having said that, his contribution to public debate is immense and he does some excellent and necessary work. I think it’s always a good idea to engage with people like Greenwald regardless of how stubborn they are, particularly when you are able to articulate complexity as well as Bob does.
Gentlemen, any thoughts on the Sarah Palin movie? just watched it on HBO, and was horrified. Do you think anyone should be held responsible for allowing her to get so near to power?
Bob: I hate that everyone who saw the movie gave John McCain such a pass. I don’t care how badass he was at the time, he elevated Palin for political expedience and ought to be condemned for it. If he had won that election, Palin would’ve been a heartbeat from the presidency, and no amount of badassery should absolve that. All that said, I thought Moore’s portrayal of Palin was brilliant and it was a compelling story, but all of these recent-history biopics are too soon and, because of it, they look like extended SNL sketches complete with shitty wigs.
Chez: I haven’t seen the movie because a while back I made the decision to have a life. Not insulting you for soldiering through it, of course — just saying that for me personally I don’t specifically seek out things to piss me off anymore. If I want to be infuriated, I’ll pick up the phone and call my ex-wife. That said, I also feel that everything that can possibly be said about how dangerous, intellectually incurious and, ironically, filled with moral certitude Palin was and still is has actually been said. In a more advanced world, John McCain would be in prison right now for willfully and opportunistically trying to put this country in mortal danger and for foisting Palin’s dumb, hillbilly ass on our culture for who knows how long.
Ben: I saw the movie and was horrified too. I think McCain’s campaign manager Steve Schmidt is personally liable for putting the country at risk – he knew how utterly incapable Palin was and should have pulled the plug on her political career as soon as he discovered she had the mental capacity of a 14 year old school girl. McCain’s motto was ‘Country First’, and putting Palin so close to power was putting country very far behind the McCain team’s political careers.
Ok guys, what happens if Romney gets elected? I know it probably won’t happen, but I thought the same about Bush. Do you think he could f$%k it up as bad as Bush did?
Ben: From a technical point of view, Romney isn’t an idiot, and left to his own devices his Presidency wouldn’t be an utter disaster. However, Romney is a weak character who will pander to everyone and anyone, and the people he would surround himself would be incredibly dangerous. He’d have to appease the Right in order to form a functioning administration, and they’d go about dismantling government in the same way the Bush Administration did. So yes, he could screw it up as badly as Bush did.
Bob: We’d be screwed. He’ll absolutely roll back everything President Obama does and the far-right Tea Party wing of the party will control his White House. Worse, the Supreme Court will end up swinging to the right for another generation, which will, of course, doom women, minorities and our electoral system for longer than I care to contemplate. Anyone who thinks he’ll be a reasonable chief executive is utterly delusional. Worse, a far-right Republican like Santorum or Gingrich will be heartbeat away from the presidency.
Chez: I don’t worry about it. I’m wearing my special Mormon underwear to protect me from stuff like that.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.