Bill Maher: Batty, 500
Hey everybody, this weekend marked the 500th episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher," so let's take a look at the kind of stuff Maher has brought forth 500 times!
After the usual hackneyed monologue, Maher welcomed his first guest, historian Allan Lichtman. Lichtman authored 2017's The Case for Impeachment (self-explanatory). Lichtman also wrote a 1996 book (based on his 1981 prediction model) called The Keys to the White House, which introduced a historically based prediction system to determine the outcome of presidential elections ... and that's correctly predicted every election since 1981 (except for 2000, which didn't count). According to the system, if five or fewer of the 12 "keys" are met, the incumbent party (in this case Trump) wins. But if six or more are met, the challenging party (Democratic Party in this case) wins. Trump has three keys being met (Lost midterm, No foreign/military success, Not charismatic to anyone outside his narrow base). Lichtman also argues they have a fourth key (Scandal) IF the House begins formal impeachment proceedings.This should have been an enlightening interview and Maher should have been probing for more information from a historian he lauded for accuracy.
But Maher decided to focus on what he refers to a “dysfunction" while telling the accurate historian he's wrong! Oh man, what a total Maher!
Lichtman: For decades, the Democrats have believed that the way to win elections is to pick someone from the centerline, an establishment candidate. Just like Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry. And what do they all have in common? They lost. [...]
(Note: I and the Wonkette Establishment disagree with his assessment of Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, AND John Kerry in this, but let us continue.)
Lichtman: Democrats, you need to rethink what you're doing.
Maher: Wasn't Bill Clinton a centrist?
Lichtman: He was “off the wall." He was out of the mainstream. He was hardly an establishment Democrat. Neither was Jimmy Carter...
Maher: Sure he was. He was the governor of a southern state.
Lichtman: But who ever heard of him? He was on “What's My Line?" And no one knew who he was. He came out of nowhere...
Maher: But a centrist CAN win...?
Lichtman: I'm not saying you can't be a centrist but you have to be exciting. You have to inspire people.
Maher then tried to revise Lichtman's model by adding an unnecessary “key." Thankfully, Lichtman corrected Maher (and many Democrats who seem to have a problem with vetting during a primary):
Maher: Maybe there's a key you haven't identified. A lot has happened since 1981. What about a negative key which I would guess would be “infighting in the party out of power." There's a lot of that going on with the Democrats. A static key, a negative key?
Lichtman: No. I've studied it carefully. Infighting only counts for the party holding the White House. Because it is a commentary on governance and running the country. The “out" party can fight all it wants. Look at the Republicans in 2016.
Maher: So the Hillary/Bernie fights had no effect?
Lichtman: No, that did because they were in power. They were the empowered Democrats. But the Hillary/Obama, when they were challengers, had no effect. So fight away, Democrats! Don't worry about it! Do it!
Maher: I don't agree...
Lichtman: Let's have a great debate!
Maher: I mean ... I don't know ... your model ...
Then it was time for the panel discussion which included talk radio host Thom Hartmann, Republican strategist Liz Mair, and Friend of Wonkette sex columnist Dan Savage. Maher quoted President Obama discussing progressive “rigidity"/“purity" and Democrats' “circular firing squad" to defend Joe Biden waxing nostalgic about working with segregationists in the “Good Old days." Here is the clip:
But Maher misses the point that this rigidity applies both ways. Dan Savage rightfully calls out Biden (and Maher) for the real reasons why this matters:
Savage: Biden said those two segregationist senators never called me “boy."
Maher: Okay, he said stupid things! That's ...
Savage: But, but it would be great if he like remembered ... his memory never started in 2009 and he seems to not remember how utterly obstructionist Republicans were throughout the entire Obama administration. They blocked everything, and Biden is pretending like he can work with these people who refused to work with anybody. Refused to work with the Democratic president.
Thom Hartmann: These two senators were also Democrats at the time. He's saying he could “work across the aisle" ... with a couple of Democrats. Like ... what?!
Maher then argues along with Liz Mair that African-Americans don't really care because they're practical.
Maher: It's always easier and more fun to play the “purists." You always get the applause for that. I think the people who do the hard work ... Obama was this guy. He got a lot of shit. “You're not living up to" ... He said, “I was always a centrist. I never said I was a radical leftist," and he got a lot of shit for it. But he got things done!
Dan Savage, however, pointed out the flaw in this argument:
Savage: But sometimes he got things done because he was getting shit from the left. Sixteen months, two years into the Obama presidency he didn't do anything on LGBT right. Slow walked it, didn't want to move on it and queer activists got in his face and he got pissed off and then he moved on it.
Maher then moved the conversation along to “concentration camps" and calling them what they are (he's against it), invited “Intellectual Dark Web" member Debra Soh to be transphobic (“there's only two genders," defending conversion therapy), argued again for the 500th time that liberals are “snowflakes," and ended with his “New Rules" segment to nominate Oprah to run for president (while airing a truly ancient grievance about his old days on ABC and Oprah messing with his ratings).
After 500 episodes, one thing is perfectly clear: Bill Maher has become every stereotype of privileged liberals who think everything's terrific now that they're in fat city. It's why he's adopted the language of alt-light figures like Sam Harris, Bari Weiss or Jordan Peterson. Or as my Wonkette colleague Dominic Gwinn puts it:
Bill Maher is a Werther's Original away from telling an Islamic trans refugee to get off his lawn while giving a lecture about how hard it was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.
— Dominic Gwinn (@DominicGwinn) June 22, 2019
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Pop Culture observer & Comics fan. Amateur Movie Reviewer. Political Freelance Writer @wonkette. Marine, Husband & Dad. Opinions are mine only.