HUMAN EVENTS: Bill Maher, come home, already

The term “neoconservative” has come in for a bad name, and rightly so, given those who claim it today. However, many forget what the original meaning of the term “neoconservative” was. As said by Irving Kristol, father of the infamously less impressive Bill Kristol, a neoconservative is “a liberal who’s been mugged by reality.”

Which brings us, perhaps unsurprisingly, to the appearance by the very anti-woke comedian Bill Maher on Greg Gutfeld’s show this week. Because Maher, who many of us still remember as the more aggressively Leftist alternative to Jon Stewart during the George W. Bush years, has made almost the same kind of bewildering about-face that occurred with other infamous Bush-era liberals like Glenn Greenwald and Russell Brand, and has now changed from sneering at the sacred cows of the Religious Right and the neocon foreign policy establishment to treating the progressive Left’s shibboleths like pincushions. There’s just one problem – unlike Greenwald and Brand, who ironically have far more enduring disagreements with Trump’s avowed foreign policy than Maher, Maher himself isn’t quite ready to take the plunge into supporting President Trump.

This fact became immediately apparent during Gutfeld’s show, when Gutfeld himself offered Maher one of the most flattering intros a guest has received on the show, only for Maher to drop this giant buzzkill of a first comment:

“I agree that it’s great that we’re talking,” Maher said. “I agree that we agree on some things. We’re not exactly aligned on the most important things. Which is basically, Trump is someone who does not concede elections. That’s the most important thing. You don’t seem to see it that way. That’s the most important thing that’s going on in this country. He didn’t concede the last election. He’s not going to concede this election.”

“You don’t know that,” Gutfeld responded, channeling all of us. “You don’t see into the future, Bill. I don’t see your crystal ball.”

“Yeah, I did,” Maher insisted, “because I was the only one who was talking about that way back when. Everyone said, oh, you smoke too much pot. Turns out I smoked just the right amount of pot.”

Gutfeld continued to channel his exasperated conservative viewers for the next few minutes, pointing out that for all of Trump’s bluster, he still left the White House. “What do you think, he’s like, gonna board up the White House, you know, pull a Straw Dogs with Dustin Hoffman?” Gutfeld asked incredulously.

Maher didn’t really respond to this; oh, he tried, by pointing to Trump’s allegedly asking Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find 11,000 votes,” but the whole argument kind of fell apart, and for a very simple reason: whatever his exertions, Trump did, in fact, leave the White House. Joe Biden is, in fact, the sitting president (though hopefully, not for much longer). So what, then, was Maher’s problem? Gutfeld himself wanted to know this, turning to cohost Dr. Drew, and asking, “You’re really good at diagnosing mental illness; what is Bill’s problem?”

Drew declined to answer. We aren’t so shy. While we agree with him that Bill Maher’s problem isn’t mental illness in the clinical sense, we do think it’s insanity, in the sense of doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

Oh yes, we could be cynical, and insinuate Maher secretly likes Trump more than he lets on, and is trying to keep his HBO show safe from woke management, but that doesn’t seem fair or accurate. Besides, as Maher himself acknowledged later on, “We are polarized. I don’t think we can deny that. The point is that we can also be friends.” As Maher’s friends, we don’t think he and the people like him need personal attacks. What they need is an intervention, one which we are happy to provide.

Because make no mistake, Bill Maher is not alone. Last week, a news story emerged that many so-called #NeverTrump donors are reluctantly shifting into becoming “Never Biden” donors. The reason is simple: Israel. As Cliff Asness, a former Nikki Haley supporter, said in the piece, “My ‘Never Again’ is trumping my ‘Never Trump’ these days.”

Maher, who routinely skewers pro-Hamas protesters on his show, should be in the same boat. Yet for some reason, unlike Asness, Maher himself can’t get past his self-avowed hatred (yes, hatred) for Donald Trump. When asked if Trump’s soaring numbers were bothering him, Maher answered:

“He’s [Trump’s] an insurrectionist who doesn’t believe in democracy, so of course, it’s bothering me. And of course, he’s also insane and a criminal and stupid.”

Gee, whiz. Now, a lot of people probably read that and think Maher sounds like a jerk. And okay, he does. But for us, these words are less a case of moral outrage than of simple déjà vu. Because this is – very nearly – the exact same indictments that Maher used to sling at George W. Bush. Maher himself acknowledged these insults in an Obama-era segment where he admitted that he’d called Bush “a rube,” “a cypher,” “a sh*tkicker,” a “yokel on the world stage,” a “catastrophe that walks like a man,” “the cowboy from Toy Story,” “Drinky McDumba**,” and “Larry the Cable Guy.”

Yeesh. That covers the “insane” and “stupid” parts, and as for “criminal?” Well, as recently as February 13, 2016, Maher guest Margaret Cho said, to applause, “I think George W. Bush is a war criminal. You know, he sent all of these people to die, and some of them came back worse than dead, it’s terrible.” Maher did not contradict her. To be fair, when it comes to the accusation that Trump “doesn’t believe in democracy,” Maher also walked some of this kind of hyperbole back, also in 2016, but even then, his mea culpas for calling the likes of George W. Bush and John McCain “fascists” (IE enemies of democracy) was only so that he could say, “but this time, seriously, Trump is one.” Bill, firstly, you’ve got that completely backwards, and secondly, for the love of God, you need new lines.

We don’t say that to be mean, but rather to point to something conspicuously odd: namely, that Maher is able to come up with new lines — great ones — about every other shift in the political winds, from trans kids, to COVID alarmism, to pro-Hamas protesters, to #MeToo, and on, and on, yet his material on Republicans is still dated. More interestingly, his jeremiads against woke trends are always framed from the same — odd — rhetorical position: that of a loyal Democrat. This was particularly pronounced in one bizarre 2021 segment, where Maher proceeded to lay into the Democrats, saying, “We suck the fun out of everything; Halloween. The Oscars. Childhood. Twitter. Comedy. It’s like woke kids on campus decided to be all the worst parts of a Southern Baptist convention.” He then closed on this highly telling lament:

“We’re the throuple people! The bong people. The tantric sex gurus, not f*cking Matt Gaetz! Us! We did f*cking in the mud and bra burning and turn on and tune in and drop out. They’re the party who won’t bake wedding cakes for gay people! It’s time to switch back, because frankly, you’re [Republicans] not good at being us. And being you sucks.”

Which brings us to what this intervention is about: Bill, sweetie, we’re not “being you.” This isn’t Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s Star Wars, except instead of saying “I am your father,” those of us in the MAGA hats are looking back at Bill Maher and saying, “we are your sons and daughters.” Because Bill, Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your children.

Look, we get it, you came of age in a different time: a time when the Democrats were the party of drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll and the Republicans were the party of Dana Carvey’s church lady, who wanted to ban everything fun because it was allegedly Satanic, and you thought you’d always be the good, fun, party people. We get it. But we are those people now. In fact, since you love the sixties so much, Bill, has it escaped you that today’s Republican influencers are basically a casting call for “the sixties, but in reverse?”

Greg Gutfeld? Lenny Bruce, but right-wing.

Jordan Peterson? Timothy Leary, but right-wing.

The Red Scare girls? Jane Fonda and Sophia Loren, but right-wing.

JK Rowling? Betty Friedan, but right-wing.

Charlie Kirk? Tom Hayden, but right-wing.

Even our own Jack Posobiec, with his memes and troll humor? Abbie Hoffman, but right-wing.

Bill, wake up. We’re you. We feel the same way about Joe Biden that you probably felt about Reagan: that he’s a senile, paranoid old fool pushing us to the brink of World War III while egging on society’s most Puritanical elements at home and rigging democracy in his favor through corporate power. We feel the same way about Barack Obama that you felt about Nixon: that he was a paranoid would-be dictator who weaponized the federal bureaucracy against his political opponents. The only difference is, he got away with it. And look, we understand that for someone like you, Biden and Obama’s policy excesses probably feel too distant, too abstract, when compared with that comforting, gauzy feeling that you’re still the young, rebellious sh*t stirrer you were at 25 when you smoked pot, turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. For every anti-Trump voter who’s nevertheless sick of the excesses of the Left, we get it, it’s hard to side with the people whom you spent your entire life hating because they were rubes who didn’t understand their interests, and only responded to vacuous cultural signaling. But that’s you, now. Stop it. Come home. Not just Bill Maher, but everyone like him. Come home to your kids, who are revolting against a new form of Deep State-sponsored American fascism. After all, we learned it from watching you. The fact that you thought the “fascism” you were fighting was wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross, while this one is wrapped in a rainbow flag and carrying a hashtag, shouldn’t matter. The principle is the same. And no, Donald Trump wasn’t trying to “end democracy.” He was doing the same thing that Nancy Pelosi did when she was confronted about saying the 2016 election was “hijacked” at the Oxford Union. Her response: “It was, but that doesn’t mean we don’t accept the results of it.”

Exactly. 2020 was hijacked by any number of things, from Twitter censoring the Hunter Biden story, to COVID-era ballot harvesting laws, to backdoor censorship of social media, period, but you know what? At the end of the day, Donald Trump left the White House and Joe Biden took it. And now, four years later we’re going to take it back, not to stop democracy, but to save it. And Bill, and everyone like you, we hope that by the time November rolls around, you’ll see not just which side you’re on, but which side left you, and which side is begging you to come back to us.

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