Maher States it Plain

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.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

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.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Orac
    September 7, 2007

    Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher are the only political commentators on television who consistently have something intelligent to say.

    I wouldn’t put Bill Maher in that fine group. He has far too large a propensity to spew credulous woo about “aggregate toxicity” and even outright antivaccination idiocy to deserve to be included in that group.

    Personally, I consider it rather amusing that so many people seem to consider Maher some sort of skeptic or some sort of strong critical thinker.

  2. #2 Orac
    September 7, 2007

    Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher are the only political commentators on television who consistently have something intelligent to say.

    I wouldn’t put Bill Maher in that fine group. He has far too large a propensity to spew credulous woo about “aggregate toxicity” and even outright antivaccination idiocy to deserve to be included in that group.

    Personally, I consider it rather amusing that so many people seem to consider Maher some sort of skeptic or some sort of strong critical thinker.

  3. #3 Chris Hallquist
    September 7, 2007

    >Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher are the only political commentators on television who consistently have something intelligent to say.

    You forgot Colbert! Well, it is a rather inverted version of “something intelligent,” but I think it still counts…

  4. #4 matthew
    September 7, 2007

    I’d throw Jack Cafferty, Bill Moyers, and Michael Ware in that list as well.

  5. #5 Oldfart
    September 7, 2007

    Sorry to say this guys:
    Maher is just another wingnut:
    Maher on Vaccinations
    Just because he is politically astute in some areas apparently doesn’t keep him from believing in large doses of WOO

  6. #6 Grodge
    September 7, 2007

    Sure, Maher’s a little nutty about vaccinations, but that doesn’t discount his insights on the President. TV personalities seem to have more ego than sense sometimes, and that ego often outpaces their intellect.

    As for Iraq, there really is no way that we plebes in the hinterlands can possibly know what is really going on. Are we winning? Who knows? Bush’s track record for predicting “progress” is so bad, however, it’s awfully hard to believe his rosy scenario now after 4 years of dissembling and misleading with panglossian bullshit.

    Maher shreaks truth to power, but like all oracles, he sometimes comes up with some wacky stuff, too.

  7. #7 blf
    September 8, 2007

    Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher are the only political commentators on television who consistently have something intelligent to say.

    The USA is not the only country with TV. Or politics, inane and otherwise. (Or, sadly, cretionists, AGW deniars, and HIV/AIDS deniars.)

    There are intelligent and insightful political commentators in other countries. The above statement is far too broad, unless you approve of ignoring of the 5+ billion non-USAians on the planet. The current USAian war criminals in charge do seem to approve of torturing and killing those people (at least if they have brown skin, are Muslim, or dislike ExxonMobile), so even they aren’t ignoring them–albeit the people in Iraq and elsewhere almost certainly wish those deluded fools would ignore them.

  8. #8 Orac
    September 8, 2007

    Sure, Maher’s a little nutty about vaccinations, but that doesn’t discount his insights on the President. TV personalities seem to have more ego than sense sometimes, and that ego often outpaces their intellect.

    Maher’s more than a “little” nutty about vaccinations. Moreover, he’s a hardcore PETA supporter, and he doubts the germ theory of disease. In other words, on a number of issues, he’s a total wingnut.

    True, none of that means that Maher’s commentary on politics can’t be good. However, his serious wingnut tendencies with regards to vaccines, alternative medicine, anti-science, and animal rights do disqualify him (to me at least) from being viewed anywhere near as highly as Keith Olbermann or Jon Stewart. Contrary to the way he presents himself, he is not a particularly good critical thinker or skeptic.

  9. #9 Derek James
    September 8, 2007

    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.

    Hmm…okay. What is that different way that needs to so carefully be explained to us? Treat groups like al Qaeda as a law enforcement problem? Handle them completely through covert operations? I’d be willing to hear an alternative to the “drain the swamp” strategy, but otherwise this is the kind of vacuous, sound-bite criticism that just says “No, no…they’re doing it all wrong” without offering any actual alternative.

  10. #10 daenku32
    September 9, 2007

    Another comment they haven’t yet made: The cost of providing “security” for Iraq with American military exceeds Iraq’s GDP by many times. Not surprisingly, the supporters of the war would be hard pressed to give that much money in contracts to the Iraqi businesses or charitable organizations.

  11. #11 itchy
    September 10, 2007

    this is the kind of vacuous, sound-bite criticism that just says “No, no…they’re doing it all wrong” without offering any actual alternative.

    Uh, one alternative is to stop “doing it all wrong.” Granted, that isn’t very specific, but it at least rules out one choice.

    If Bush were, say, randomly changing strategies every month, then Maher’s criticism might be more wanting. But since Bush has been steadfast in his approach, then “stop doing it all wrong” seems a perfectly valid point — even if we don’t know what “right” is.

    “Hey, I keep punching myself in the face. Got any suggestions?”

    “Well, for starters, stop punching yourself in the face.”