Bill Maher turned up on Hardball the other night. As usual, he had some insightful things to say.
Here’s the first item I especially liked. Matthews’ question was about the surge in Iraq:
MAHER: Well, you know, when you have to make a secret trip to Iraq, I think probably your surge plan isn’t really working. Is it working in the sense that we can stop violence in different pockets because we have a kick-ass army? Yes. Yes, they can do that. But this has always been about forming a government in Iraq and having an Iraqi army that could back up the will of that government. And that’s not happening.
Exactly right, and it’s about time someone on television said it. Sure, if you place a large number of troops in one place you can impose order there for a while. That’s not the point. The surge was meant to provide breathing space for the politicians to show they could govern, and that plainly hasn’t happened.
Meanwhile, as the increasingly odious John McCain showed us in yesterday’s debate, the reality on the ground in Iraq holds little interest for Republicans. Their only plan is to hope for a miracle, and, barring that, push off the day of reckoning past the 2008 elections. Here’s McCain responding to Mitt Romney’s minimally cautious statement that “The surge appears to be working:”
GOLER : Senator McCain?
MCCAIN: Governor, the surge is working. The surge is working, sir.
ROMNEY: That’s just what I said.
MCCAIN: It is working. No, not “apparently”; it’s working. It’s working because we’ve got a great general. We’ve got a good strategy. Anbar province, things have improved.
The Maliki government is not doing the things we want it to do, the police are not functioning the way we want them to do, but we are succeeding.
And the great debate is not whether it’s apparently working or not, the great debate is going to take place on the floor of the United States Senate the middle of this month. And it’s going to be whether we set a date for withdrawal, which will be a date for surrender, or whether we will let this surge continue and succeed.
MCCAIN: And I can assure you, it’s more than apparent, it is working and we have to rally the American people.
It would seem that showing even the slightest, minuscule measure of doubt about our unambigous and clear success in Iraq is now out of bounds in the Republican party. How could anyone even consider voting for such people in 2008?
Here’s another nugget from Maher:
MAHER: Well, we had Mike Gravel on our show Friday night.
MATTHEWS: I know. That’s why I’m asking you, because you don’t need him now. You’ve had him.
MAHER: He’s a straighter shooter than most of them. Who I couldn’t stand to see in the White House is another person, excuse me, like the one we have now. And to me, that’s Fred Thompson, that’s Rudy Giuliani, that’s anybody who keeps it way, way, way too simple for the complex times we’re living in.
MAHER: You know, what is it with Thompson? Why are they crazy about him? He’s another guy who gets up there and says, You know what? I got the horse sense. I don’t need to learn a heck of a lot. You know, they’re “Lazy like a fox” is the cover of Newsweek this week.
MAHER: And he’s another guy who says, I can kill or deport everybody who scares you. That’s the kind of tough guy I am. But that’s not the kind of world we live in. The bad guys don’t have armies. You can’t kill and deport everybody who scares us. You have to handle it in a little different way. Takes a little explaining to the American people, and that’s what these guys don’t want to do.
Once again, exactly right. Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher are the only political commentators on television who consistently have something intelligent to say. As for the rest, you can ignore the whole disgusting lot of them.