Bill Maher’s Mea Culpa

With Donald Trump on the ballot, Bill Maher regrets some past words. He shouldn't be the only one.

Bill Maher

On his show Friday night, Bill Maher had some extraordinary words for Republicans and Democrats as we head to the polls, and it relates quite well to the vitriol that has filled not only this campaign but American politics in general going back at least as far as the Clinton Administration:

Liberal comedian Bill Maher on Friday night said it was wrong for Democrats to have portrayed former Republicans as villains, explaining that they “cried wolf” when it wasn’t necessary.

The “Real Time” host contended Donald Trump, the current Republican presidential nominee, was truly dangerous for America, on the other hand. He lamented that liberals had previously described other Republicans in similar terms, a move he said weakened their ability to get individuals to heed their warnings this time around.

“I know liberals made a big mistake because we attacked your boy [President George W. Bush] like he was the end of the world,” Maher told panelist David Frum, a former speechwriter for Bush. “He wasn’t.”

Maher continued: “And Mitt Romney, we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars, I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn’t have changed my life that much, or yours. Or John McCain.”

“They were honorable men who we disagreed with. And we should have kept it that way. So we cried wolf. And that was wrong,” Maher said.

Here’s the video (be warned that it is  possibly Not Safe For Work due to inappropriate language):

Maher’s comments are ones that we’ve heard several times during the course of this election. Despite the fact that several well-meaning people have earnestly tried to tell Republicans that Donald Trump is a uniquely dangerous, and uniquely unprepared and unqualified, candidate for President of the United States, to a large degree those words have fallen on deaf ears. Even Republican leaders who ought to know better, such as Reince Preibus, Paul Ryan, and the countless number of political leaders, elected officials, and individuals ended up lining behind Trump notwithstanding his well-documented rhetoric and his well-documented views. In some cases, of course, this was done because they actually agreed with him, or because of pure political expediency and fear of ending up on the wrong side of a political battle. Along with them, there are countless numbers of Republican and independent voters who will vote for Donald Trump tomorrow notwithstanding the fact that there are many voices of authority out there talking about the unique threat that he and his supporters represent to American politics. As a result we stand on the brink of an election where this man has at least a small chance of becoming the next President of the United States.

Maher remarks put a finger on one of the reasons why this is the case. For several elections now, pundits and politicians on both sides of the political aisle have been trying to convince us that the candidate on the other side of the aisle was evil incarnate. Even if it meant making up obviously false stories, a practice that admittedly goes far back in American history but which gets far more mileage in an era of cable news, social media, and the Internet, the ‘winner take all’ attitude of most politicos leads them to view people on the other side of the aisle as not just wrong on a policy level but truly evil and capable of everything from suspending the Constitution to stay in power to locking up political opponents. The days when there were hard fought battles over policy, but at least some level of mutual respect, are long gone for the most part and we’re now in an era of politics as blood sport where the opposing candidate must not only be beaten but utterly destroyed. In most cases, it’s been a matter of political pundits crying wolf over a politician who was not nearly as bad as the rhetoric. This is exactly what Maher is talking about above, and he deserves credit for his honesty here. Perhaps if pundits like him had been more circumspect about Republican candidates in the past, the words of warning about Trump would not have fallen on deaf ears. In any case, this should stand as a warning for the future. Treating every election as if the opponent is not just wrong but evil means that your words will mean a lot less when a real threat comes along and you try to warn people. That’s a warning that people on both sides of the aisle need to learn.

FILED UNDER: Politics 101, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    Maher continued: “And Mitt Romney, we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars, I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn’t have changed my life that much, or yours. Or John McCain.”

    It’s quite obvious that none of them would have changed Bill Maher’s life that much.

    He’s a rich white man.

  2. dxq says:

    yeah, rich white guy has myopia. Film at 11.

  3. Franklin says:

    Even Donald Trump isn’t evil incarnate. Maybe evil incompetent, but …

  4. dxq says:

    Perhaps if pundits like him had been more circumspect about Republican candidates in the past, the words of warning about Trump would not have fallen on deaf ears.

    What a super bullshit argument. “Why did you make me hit you? I didn’t want to hit you. But you hurt my feelings and you made me do it!”

  5. dxq says:

    “You complained so much about our racism and sexism that we’ll show you! We’ll nominate the epitome of racism and sexism! And it’s all your fault!”

  6. Bokonon says:

    The Democrats are not at fault for the self-radicalization cycle that is going on in the GOP.

    Nor it their rhetoric.

    And the Democrats cannot be blamed for the GOP electorate’s refusal to listen to warnings about Donald Trump. Any more than the Democrats can be blamed for that electorate’s failure to listen about Sarah Palin, the Iraq War, global warming, trickle-down-economics, Michelle Obama’s sleeve length, the Hawaii long-form birth certificate …

  7. KM says:

    Despite the fact that several well-meaning people have earnestly tried to tell Republicans that Donald Trump is a uniquely dangerous, and uniquely unprepared and unqualified, candidate for President of the United States, to a large degree those words have fallen on deaf ears.

    The Boy Who Cried Wolf: one of the most misused fables. The villagers aren’t punished in any way since the only ones who die are the sheep (or the boy in some versions). The listeners of the false claims suffer no ills and yet the story is often pitched as “false alarms are dangerous to everyone“. The moral is really “don’t raise false alarms or bad things will happen to you.” The whole personal responsibility things gets lost when the moral is forced to being a group failing lesson.

    While you are correct that screaming “X is the new Hitler!!” has certainly worsened an already toxic political atmosphere, it does not excuse those who chose to be deaf this cycle or worse, think the wolf is a dog to be tamed. One makes the choice to ignore the cry of Wolf at their own peril, especially when you can see the creature right in front of you. Far too many people are trying to shift personal blame by effectively saying “Well, you should have warned me harder!” They see him for what he is; they just don’t want to believe it can be that bad. Humans are terrible at risk management in general. ERs are full of people who discarded posted warnings mouthing gems like “nothing bad’s ever happened before!” or “I didn’t think it would happen to me!”

    A warning is just that: a warning. Advice, information, knowledge to be used. It’s up to an individual to act on it and they have nobody to blame but themselves if ignorance bites them in the ass. It’s very reminiscent of those who stay during mandatory hurricane evacs thinking it’s never as bad as the news says…. and end up on CNN as the idiots on the roof begging for rescue. Trump is as he’s always been: a tacky hot mess one insult away from a meltdown. It’s not the pundits’ fault people think the angry moron from the Apprentice would be a good CiC.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Whoa…maybe compared to Trump, Bush 43 wasn’t that bad.
    But at the end of the day 9.11 still happened on his watch.
    He still sent 4000 troops needlessly to their death, wounded scores more, probably killed upwards of 200,000 innocent citizens, and blew over two trillion dollars.
    He ignored Enron while thousands lost money, because they were his cronies.
    He blew Katrina.
    And was running around saying the economy was sound when it was tanking…and left office with us shedding 700,000 jobs a month and billions in personal wealth was lost.
    And keep in mind this is but a partial list…I could go on.

  9. Monala says:

    I just don’t remember previous elections this way. In 2000, George Bush wasn’t seen, at least by the liberals I know or read online, as some unique evil. He was seen as not terribly bright, but more or less a moderate Republican. He came to be seen as evil, that is true, but that was due to specific actions he took while in office: specifically, the invasion of Iraq.

    In 2008, McCain wasn’t seen that way either. He was considered a war hawk by a lot of liberals – but hey, so is Hillary Clinton. OTOH, no one described him as some unique threat to democracy until he selected his running mate. At that point, given McCain’s age and cancer history, the fear was that he might die and leave the office to someone so obviously ignorant and bigoted.

    In 2012, the impression of Romney among liberals I know or read is that he was a rather soulless vulture capitalist. The fear was that he would amplify policies that would benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99%, but not that he would destroy our democracy or our standing in the world.

    Likewise, I don’t recall any “end of the world” scenarios by Republicans about Gore or Kerry – just criticisms along the same spectrum as those by liberals I noted above.

    In contrast, the Republican reaction to Obama was off the charts: socialist, not a real American, “pals around with terrorists,” out to destroy America.

  10. Pch101 says:

    Between the 47% remark and strapping his dog to the roof of the car, Romney pretty much did it to himself. He came off as a rich jerk, which isn’t appreciated by most people who aren’t also rich jerks.

    When he isn’t attacking Muslims, Maher has a tendency to attack strawmen. He can be pretty amusing, but let’s remember that he’s just a comedian.

  11. Surreal American says:

    John McCain wasn’t the end of the world, but John McCain picking Sarah Palin to be his running mate raised a red flag.

    Mitt Romney wasn’t the end of the world either, but Mitt Romney seeking the endorsement of the chief birther moron (Donald Trump) and running away from his signature achievement as MA governor (Romneycare) raised even more red flags.

  12. DrDaveT says:

    In some cases, of course, this was done because they actually agreed with him, or because of pure political expediency and fear of ending up on the wrong side of a political battle.

    You say that as if there were other cases.

    The argument that overwrought liberal rhetoric has contributed to why it is hard to convince less-radical conservatives of how horrible Trump is depends on a key assumption — namely, that the opinions/admonitions/derision of liberals can sway conservatives. I see no sign of that. The failure, if there is one, is that conservatives are not listening to the various conservatives who tell them how horrible a candidate Trump is. I don’t see how you can blame the Bill Mahers of the world for that one. You can, however, blame the Rush Limbaughs and Paul Ryans of the world, for their respective roles as [Nazi analogy deleted to avert Godwin’s Law].

  13. Paul L. says:

    Remember Doug hates Sarah Palin with the same1000 suns intensity as he does Donald Trump.
    Please, Donald Trump, when you become President, sign an executive order ordering the release of all documents (including emails) about Fast and Furious Gunwalking, IRS Targeting of Tea party groups and the NOAA global surface temperature dataset.
    Fire everyone at the DOJ and IRS involved with the Obama Administration scandals of the Ted Stevens case, the Daniel Chong case, Fast and Furious Gunwalking and IRS Targeting of
    Conservative groups

  14. Argon says:

    Hmmm… Vince Foster, Benghazi, and assorted email investigations over the years. Nope, nobody crying wolf there. ‘Death panels’? There is a difference from occasionally crying wolf vs. making a cottage industry and and driving a top cable news channel based on that ‘industry’.

  15. KM says:

    @Paul L. :

    Fire everyone at the DOJ and IRS involved with the Obama Administration

    If (god forbid) Trump does win, this is going to be one of his major wake-up calls: you can’t just fire anybody you want because you are the President. Between the bureaucracy, unions and the little thing called the Constitution, he’ll be shocked to discover he can’t sh^tcan all of Washington if he’s in a mood. Hell, he wouldn’t be able to sh^tcan a large part of the White House staff without a lengthy process dependent on their employment status, let alone the DOJ or IRS.

    The President is not a CEO nor a King. Wonder if anybody told him he won’t get to re-enact the Apprentice with an Oval Office backdrop?

  16. Kylopod says:

    @Surreal American:

    John McCain wasn’t the end of the world, but John McCain picking Sarah Palin to be his running mate raised a red flag.

    One thing I would add is that Palin was in many ways the forerunner of Donald Trump. It may not have seemed that way at first: when McCain selected her she appeared to many people to be at least marginally qualified on paper, and even during her meltdown in 2008, much of the focus was simply on her ignorance and lack of preparedness for the office, but not much more: even many of her detractors at the time claimed to find her likable on a personal level, and even felt a little sorry for her.

    After the election, when she promptly quit her governorship and remade herself as a reality-show star, she became increasingly proto-Trumpian, a media troll and right-wing insult comic whose shtick was to grab the headlines by being outrageous. The signs were there in 2008 (“palling around with terrorists,” the ethics investigation), but a lot of commentators chose to overlook them. Although she wasn’t overtly racist, there were definitely elements in which she was playing to white identity politics, with her rhetoric about “real America” and her attacks on the first black president. She was among the right-wing commentators who led the backlash against Marco Rubio for his role in the immigration bill. And she was one of the first former elected officials to endorse Donald Trump–which shouldn’t surprise us, because by now they’re two peas in a pod.

    The attacks on Palin weren’t crying wolf, they were a warning as to what was to come.

  17. Gustopher says:

    I will grant that America would have been give-or-take fine-ish with Romney, but not John McCain.

    The selection of Palin as VP was one of the worst possible decisions, especially for an old man with health issues (health issues that have remained mostly minor for the last 8 years, and I wish him further health). Palin is the proto-Trump — not explicitly racist, but dumb and vindictive.

  18. al-Alameda says:

    Point taken. I must admit that I do not recall George W. Bush and Mitt Romney as having been seen by most Democrats as the Hitler-esque end of some Domestic Pax Americana, certainly not by a majority of liberals.

    To be sure, some liberals made that bogus association, but most did not. What there was of that certainly did not and does not compare in magnitude or amplitude to the demonization and vituperation that modern base Republicans and their elected representatives have directed toward Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

    Yes both sides do it, but these days it definitely not equal.

  19. Paul Hooson says:

    I sure like Bill Maher a great deal. He’s from a mixed Jewish-Irish ancestry just like me and he reasons much like I do. – Certainly conservatives and Republicans should not be treated by liberals and Democrats as some adversary, but as fellow Americans who disagree on what solutions best solve problems. – Wise persons should realize that sometimes conservative answers better solve some problems, while sometimes liberal answers better solve other problems.

  20. Davebo says:

    I’ve got to agree. When liberals chanted in unison by the tens of thousands “Lock him up” regarding Romney at Obama rallies I was appalled.

    Palin was stupid, but certainly didn’t deserve veiled threats of “second amendment solutions” hurled her way.

    Bill Maher is along the lines of Dennis Miller, only slightly more funny and far less dogmatic.

  21. Stonetools says:

    So Hillary Rodham Clinton is not now the most corrupt person ever and one of history’s greatest monster, second only to the Kenyan Muslim usurper who thinks he is king now in the White House? Asking for a talk radio listening, Fox News watching friend.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: WTF? Everything you list is right wing echo chamber BS except maybe, marginally Stevens, and that was on W’s watch.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Davebo:

    Bill Maher is along the lines of Dennis Miller, only slightly more funny and far less dogmatic.

    Seriously? I own furniture that’s slightly more funny than Dennis Miller.

  24. Bookdragon says:

    No, sorry. I give credit for pointing out it’s on both sides, but while Republicans have vilified Dems as godless unpatriotic socialist/communists for almost as long as I can remember, Dems have not responded by nominating someone who embodies their worst accusations.

  25. gVOR08 says:

    Get used to it, people. There’s about to be a whole lot of screaming and hollering by Republicans about what went wrong and who’s to blame. The only thing they’ll be able to agree on is that it’s not their fault, it’s Obama’s fault, and Hillary’s, and yours.

  26. dxq says:

    @gVOR08: YEP.

  27. Pch101 says:

    @gVOR08:

    There’s about to be a whole lot of screaming and hollering by Republicans about what went wrong and who’s to blame. The only thing they’ll be able to agree on is that it’s not their fault, it’s Obama’s fault, and Hillary’s, and yours.

    Republicans believe strongly in personal accountability…for everyone who isn’t a Republican.

  28. dxq says:

    @gVOR08: And Donald Trump’s, and The Media’s.

  29. Davebo says:

    @gVOR08:

    Comedic tastes will vary obviously. And seriously, I’d love to see your furniture!

  30. gVOR08 says:

    @Davebo: Why? My furniture is not remotely funny, just funnier than Dennis Miller.

  31. Loviatar says:

    You guys spent the past few days praising Doug and James as decent men for their choices in the upcoming election. I hope this post dissuades you of them being decent men. Doug and James will go back to supporting Republicans as quickly as the party nominates a candidate who does not shout the party’s sexism and racism from the podium. Trumps mistake was he was too honest with his words, he should have followed the example set by Kasich and Pence.

    The scary thing; the next iteration of Trump will be someone along the lines of a former military officer who’s currently a college professor. That person will understand how the game is played and will easily garner not only the support of the “deplorables” but also all those who are willing to bend over backwards to give the benefit of the doubt to the “decent” men who currently make up the Republican party.

  32. Hal_10000 says:

    A lot of revisionist history in the comments above. Maybe you needed to be a Republican (or former Republican) to remember Bushitler signs and how Romney literally gave people cancer and all the other nonsense. We’ll see if this mea culpa lasts until 2020, when i expect to hear that Rubio or Haley or Pence or whoever is “worse than Trump”.

  33. Loviatar says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Could you please provide some links to your claims. Also, as someone who cares about women as wholly formed individuals, yes Pence is worse than Trump.

  34. michael reynolds says:

    When a significant percentage of the American population simply disconnects from consensual reality, and live their lives within a self-affirming bubble increasingly at odds with the real world, of course rhetoric gets heated because nothing subtle can even be heard by the other side.

    There’s no dialog with untreated paranoid schizophrenics, which is effectively the diagnosis of the Right in this country. They hear voices in their heads, they see things that aren’t there, and it’s our fault because we have to raise our voices in a desperate attempt to continue a dialog they’ve chosen to abandon? Try talking to the next raving street person you come across, see if you don’t end up shouting.

    Look, anyone who’s read me around here will acknowledge that I’m not slow to criticize the Left. I have a whole long list of bones to pick with “my side,’ but those are conversations, that’s dialog. We’ll argue and disagree and be mad at each other, but we’ll inhabit the same reality. We’ll be debating real things, marshaling facts and logic, we won’t simply deny the existence of gravity and go jumping off buildings.

    There are a lot of ways to parse the division between Right and Left, but at it’s core it comes to this: the Cable/Google Revolution has had the paradoxical effect of allowing the Right to move the last few feet from the Limbaugh Distortion Field and the Fox Bullsh!t Bubble, into a whole, disconnected thing in which reality is just an avatar you pick from some app.

    What is scary is not Trump, it’s the Trump voter. Trump is just the idiot demon these people have summoned, he’s their reality show crush of the moment, it’s not about him. It’s about the hopefully less than 45% of the American population so insane, so reckless, so stupid, so credulous, that they would even consider voting for this human stain.

    Something has gone very, very wrong with the American people. This isn’t top down, this is bottom up. This is your neighbors.

    On the Left we’ve been warning that this was coming for a long time. Did we overstate the problem posed by McCain and Romney? Yeah, because we were making the error of thinking that the problem was the figurehead. We sensed life going wrong, but those of us thinking about it much are elitists of one type or another, and most of us don’t talk to or interact with those people, so we cast our unease in traditional terms, aiming at the other side’s ‘leaders.’ We failed to see the truth that their leaders were better than the people. I’ll be happy to beat up on John McCain or Mitt Romney all day, but they are Galahad and Gawain compared to their voters. It’s the people who are the collective Frankenstein, Trump is just their monster.

    That said, if we are going to keep this country together we need to find ways to ramp this all down. Which will mean finding some people on the other side who can be ‘partners for peace’ if I may steal a middle-eastern peace term. Of those that will vote Trump tomorrow, half are just gone, forget ’em. But some portion of that group is still reachable, and we need to figure out how to do it without giving ground on important issues.

    Don’t look at me, I don’t know how.

    But on a side note, Nancy Pelosi may have an interesting hand to play with the crazies all up in arms about Paul Ryan.

  35. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Don’t look at me, I don’t know how.

    Yeah you do, we did it in the 1860s and again in the 1960s. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until the 2060s to slap them down again.

  36. Mister Bluster says:

    @Pch101:..he’s just a comedian.

    “All my humor is based upon destruction and despair. If the whole world were tranquil, without disease and violence, I’d be standing on the breadline right in back of J. Edgar Hoover.”
    Lenny Bruce

  37. MarkedMan says:

    What’s interesting about this to me is that Maher, although a liberal, is fairly atypical. He’s much closer to a Hannity/OReilly vibe than to a Madow. And I never really liked him for the same reason I dislike much of the Fox crew: they are energized by contempt. Everyone is an idiot, unworthy and there’s no reason to deal with an opponent honestly or fairly because they are defective, deficient rubble.

  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Maybe you needed to be a Republican (or former Republican) to remember Bushitler signs and how Romney literally gave people cancer and all the other nonsense.

    Um, apparently? I have literally* no idea what you’re talking about.

    *And I mean ‘literally’ literally.

  39. Hal_10000 says:

    @Loviatar:

    Here’s the cancer ad.

    Bushitler.

    For good measure:

    Here’s Republicans pushing old ladies off cliffs
    .

    There was the James Byrd ad, which was so vile I won’t link it.

    And frankly, there’s every election where we’re told Republicans are going to destroy Social Security, destroy Medicare, destroy education, destroy the environment, etc., etc. And the response every time I raise this point, which is, “BUT THAT’S THE WAY REPUBLICAN REALLY ARE!”

    Also, as someone who cares about women as wholly formed individuals, yes Pence is worse than Trump.

    And thank you for illustrating the point.

  40. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101:

    Republicans believe strongly in personal accountability

    I would love to have a longer conversation about this at some point. I heard a very interesting lecture series recently about modern science that essentially claimed that every real science goes through three stages. The initial version is about ontology — what kinds of things exist, and what are their properties? The second stage is about relationships between entities. The third, mature stage is about the emergent properties of such things. Thus, early physics is about particles (be it Democritus or Leibniz or Bohr); more advanced physics is about forces; latest physics is about fields. Biology goes from organisms to species to ecosystems.

    On the human side, early social science is about individuals; the next round is about interpersonal relationships, and the most advanced is sociology, the human equivalent of ecosystems. Republicans are stuck at stage two; their world view (rooted in the free will version of Christianity) doesn’t admit models of society as a whole, but has to stop at the interpersonal interactions stage. And thus, arguments of the form “…but that will ruin the ecosystem” have no force with them.

    Food for thought, at any rate.

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    And frankly, there’s every election where we’re told Republicans are going to destroy Social Security, destroy Medicare, destroy education, destroy the environment, etc., etc.

    So, which of those do you think are false? Seriously. I can maybe see Medicare as being safe, in some form, given its complete third rail status. The rest are slam dunks, though. Paul Ryan would happily privatize (and destroy) Social Security, and it’s not his idea. Education is already bleeding in the gutter, thanks to No Child Permitted Ahead and protection of local control of both curriculum and funding. Environment? From James Watt to climate denial, the GOP has banked on transfer payments from the poor of the future to the wealthy of today.

    So, yes, that’s the way the Republicans that matter — the ones in office — really are. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’d love to see it.

  42. Nunya says:

    @DrDaveT:
    You literally just proved his point. How absolutely dense are you to lack that kind of self awareness.

  43. Pch101 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The (somewhat) short answer is that Reagan gave permission to Americans to be a**holes, and millions of people obliged him

    “The poor” became a euphemism for minorities, while “states rights” was understood to be a call for white superiority. They may say that they believe in Christ, but their views are more closely aligned with the verbose, self-centered Ayn Rand.

    This was a cynical play by the establishment GOP to win the South and pick up some working class voters, but it has now spiraled out of control to the point that it has become an establishment-eating monster. The establishment doesn’t object to the attitudes, but to the fact that the upstarts are now turning on them, too.

    In essence, Reagan reversed all of the things that we are supposed to be taught when we are toddlers about caring about and playing nicely with others. This is Lord of the Flies brought to the political arena — when you give people license to be narcissistic jerks, many of them will take you up on it. Trump is merely a cruder version of the beast that the GOP has been creating ever since Barry Goldwater made it cool within some circles to reject civil rights.

  44. Hal_10000 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    So, which of those do you think are false?

    All of them. The last time the Republicans had the White House and both chambers, they didn’t touch Social Security, enacted a Medicare drug benefit, doubled education spending and Bush passed serious regulations on methane emissions and forced the rail industry to use more efficient engines. All to Left-wing hysterics about how he was doing the exact opposite. There is plenty to criticize in that list (e.g., No Child Left Behind was not a good idea) and plenty to criticize outside of it (Iraq, torture, etc.). But the idea that Bush and the GOP were gutting spending was pure fiction.

  45. dxq says:

    Trump is merely a cruder version of the beast that the GOP has been creating ever since Barry Goldwater made it cool within some circles to reject civil rights.

    The Southern Strategy turned the Party of Eisenhower into the Party of Trump.

  46. Pch101 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Have you already forgotten that Bush 43 wanted to privatize Social Security?

    Have you already forgotten that Paul Ryan wants to privatize Social Security and gut Medicare?

    We can’t have a serious discussion about conservatism if you can’t remember your own positions.

  47. Kari Q says:

    All of this is completely irrelevant. Let’s stipulate that Democrats were as horrible to Republicans as their worst critic believes, it doesn’t matter. Even if Democrats had been sweet as pie to Republicans, always temperate, modest, and calm, it wouldn’t have made a single bit of difference. It’s not like Republicans were actually listening to us any way.

    Democrats did not cause the problems in the Republican Party. Democrats cannot solve them. Democrats cannot mitigate them through temperate rhetoric. Republicans did this to themselves and Republicans will have to find the cure for their problems themselves. We can’t help them. All we can do is hope that they get that taken care of before it kills them and us along with them.

    And until they stop saying the Democrats are to blame for their problems, and they aren’t because even intelligent and thoughtful Republicans and former Republicans are giving this “Democrats made us!” line, there will be no change.

  48. DrDaveT says:

    @Nunya:

    You literally just proved his point.

    No, I called him on it. I can cite evidence, name names, point to actual policies put forward by actual Republicans. Now the ball’s in his court — if he can point to a similar number of Republicans working to fix Social Security, protect the environment, or improve education nationally, he can make a good case that it isn’t a general trait of Republicans that they want to harm these things or let them fail. If he’s right, that shouldn’t be hard, and I’ll concede that he was right and I was wrong.

  49. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But the idea that Bush and the GOP were gutting spending was pure fiction.

    You just moved the goalposts. I didn’t say anything about spending; I was talking about goals. Spending isn’t a good thing in and of itself; you have to spend on stuff that helps.

    The last time the Republicans had the White House and both chambers, they didn’t touch Social Security

    Exactly. They let it continue to go bankrupt instead. No action required.

    enacted a Medicare drug benefit,

    Yep. The single most expensive hit on the budget of its era, which failed to do anything at all about the real problems of uninsured Americans, lack of preventive care, skyrocketing premiums, etc. Republican refusal to tie the drug benefit to price caps essentially wrote the pharmaceutical companies a blank check, and the deficit increased by almost exactly the amount of the benefit.

    doubled education spending

    See above; quantity =/= quality. Badly spent money is worse than no spending at all. (Take a lot at what the military spent their money over that period…)

    Bush passed serious regulations on methane emissions and forced the rail industry to use more efficient engines.

    Conceded. It’s not much, set against the rest of the environmental record, but you’re right that it has not been an unmixed policy of greed. I retract that claim.

  50. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101: Yeah, I get all of that. I’m still trying to understand the psychology of Republicans who think of themselves as principled and moral, and are appalled by the Trumpkins — but continue to vote Republican. The voters, not the politicians — I understand the politicians all too well.

  51. Pch101 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    A lot of Republicans are nostalgic for a party that never really existed. A romanticized cognitive dissonance.

    It also helps to remember that they don’t necessarily dislike Trump for the same reasons as do liberals. A lot of Republicans who despise Trump do so because they think that he’s an untrustworthy liberal. (Imagine that…)

  52. Loviatar says:

    One of the things I’m beginning to really dislike about Republicans/former Republicans is that along with their racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and general bigotry and hatred towards others is that they seem to have this sense of perpetual victimhood.

    No matter what they are never to blame. Sounds like my teenage son when I tell him to do his homework or clean his room.

  53. Loviatar says:

    @Pch101:

    A lot of Republicans who despise Trump do so because they think that he’s an untrustworthy liberal.

    I disagree slightly.

    I really believe their dislike is because with him as the face of their party the jig is up. They’ve been proven to be as racist and as misogynistic as Democrats have always claimed. Now that their bigotry and hatred is no longer dogwhistled in the hallways, but shouted from the podium Doug, James, Hal_10000 and others are mad because they’ve lost their plausible deniability.

  54. Loviatar says:

    @Pch101:

    Remember their cry is NeverTrump, not NeverRacism or NeverSexism.

    As James with his advocacy for Kasich, Doug with this post blaming Democrats for Republican excess and Hal-10000’s victimhood Republicans and former Republicans really don’t have an issue with the modern Republican party’s platform. Their problem is that they’ve been outed by their presidential candidate as bigots and sexist.

  55. Pch101 says:

    @Loviatar:

    You have a certain cartoon view of things that bars you from seeing any nuance.

    The types of Republicans who I described immediately above are not posting here. Those Republicans don’t trust Trump on taxes or abortion, which is why they are inclined to label him as “liberal” even though he generally isn’t.

  56. Loviatar says:

    @Pch101:

    No my view is as clear eyed as yours, I’m just less tolerant and forgiving.

    Those Republicans that don’t trust Trump on taxes or abortion, trust Ryan and McConnell. Trump is and has always been a figurehead for the Republican id, the party platform has not changed and if he is elected it will be implemented by the men who currently run the House and Senate. Why do you think Ryan and McConnell have put up with Trump’s bullshit.

  57. Anonne says:

    Trump is the logical brainchild of Lee Atwater’s Southern Strategy, writ large and obnoxious. You’ve just about reached the end of the slippery slope. There is still worse than Trump out there. But the GOP has decided to become everything that the left has said that they are: racist, sexist, hypocrites.

    I do agree with Bill Maher that some of the rhetoric on the left regarding Bush was histrionic, especially in 2004. Some people wanted to call him the Antichrist, but again, anyone deploying that term doesn’t know Revelation well enough and is just scaring you.

    We lived through Bush, but Trump would be orders of magnitude worse.

  58. Pch101 says:

    @Loviatar:

    You are confusing a lack of empathy with bigotry.

    A lot of Republicans believe that racism is a thing of the past. Part of this flows from the belief that the greatest country on earth/land of opportunity couldn’t possibly be like that. They just don’t see it even when it’s obvious to others.

  59. Pch101 says:

    @Anonne:

    More civilians died in the Iraq War than were killed during the Blitz.

    Just imagine how Americans would react if another country had done that to us. But hey, Bush killed a bunch of furriners, so it doesn’t matter much.

  60. Loviatar says:

    @Pch101:

    You are confusing a lack of empathy with bigotry.

    When the end result is the same should I care that someone voted for a Republican Congress or Trump because they were unempathetic or because they were a bigot.

    I’m sorry, the longer the Republican party has stewed in their cesspool of racism, misogyny, homophobia and bigotry the less tolerant and forgiving I’ve become of their members.

  61. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Hey…

    Just saw Bill Maher on the Tonight show, making the case Against Trump.

    Best line: THE GOP… Stands for Grab Our Pu$$y !

  62. Monala says:

    @Hal_10000: clicking on some of the Bush Hitler links proves it’s exactly as I said: liberals started calling him that because of the Iraq War. Not when he was first running for president.

  63. Anonne says:

    @Pch101: Bush and the Republican Party enablers were bad. But he still was not the Antichrist. You wouldn’t think that statement would be controversial…

  64. Loviatar says:

    @Anonne:

    You’re obviously not the family member of a service member who died in the Iraq War. I’m also guessing you’re not related to any Iraqis.

  65. dxq says:

    I really believe their dislike is because with him as the face of their party the jig is up. They’ve been proven to be as racist and as misogynistic as Democrats have always claimed. Now that their bigotry and hatred is no longer dogwhistled in the hallways, but shouted from the podium Doug, James, Hal_10000 and others are mad because they’ve lost their plausible deniability.

    By late march it was down to Cruz, Kasich, and Trump.

    The Jesus Wing, the Business Wing, and the Ignorant Racist Misogynistic Asshole Wing.

    That last one was bigger than the first two.

  66. Pch101 says:

    @Anonne:

    For every two deaths at Dachau, there were about five civilians killed in Iraq. But hell, they were just Iraqis, right?

    If Bush had killed 100,000 Canadians, would you feel the same?

  67. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: I used to watch Real Time regularly. I liked the panel discussions and some of the interviews, and Maher (despite an obnoxious habit of laughing at his own jokes) is indeed sometimes funny and even insightful.

    But yes, the man is dickish and insufferable, and it makes me embarrassed to admit I was ever a fan of his show. Whenever people try to draw equivalence between the left and the right in terms of incivility, Maher’s name almost invariably comes up–which I’ve always felt was deeply misleading, because he is in many ways the exception that proves the rule: very, very few commentators on the left behave like he does, and he stands out precisely because his personality and demeanor invite comparisons with those of right-wing commentators.

    In fact, though I know he wouldn’t care to hear it, he shares at least one important trait in common with Donald Trump: his appeal to being “politically incorrect” (which not incidentally was the friggin’ name of his first show) as an excuse to be boorish and even downright bigoted.

    About 10 years ago there was a movie called Man of the Year, in which Robin Williams plays the host of a comedy talk show who decides to run for president. (It belongs to an age-old genre of movies and books about bizarre or unlikely candidates that has come to seem surprisingly prophetic this year, but this particular film usually gets overlooked in these discussions because it was a critical and commercial flop, and indeed, the second half of the film gets bogged down in a lame conspiracy plot that leaves the story adrift.) Most reviews of the film described the Williams character as a clone of Jon Stewart, but personally–and I felt like I was crazy for being the only one to notice this–he reminded me a heckuva lot more of Bill Maher. Both Stewart’s and Maher’s name are mentioned in the film, and frequent Daily Show guest Lewis Black has a supporting role. But I had the feeling that people (perhaps including the movie’s publicists) just felt more comfortable invoking Stewart than a figure as eccentric and controversial as Maher.

  68. Kari Q says:

    @Pch101:

    Why are you attacking someone for saying Bush was not the anti-Christ? Do you think he was literally in league with Satan? They didn’t say invading Iraq was a great idea, or the deaths of the military personnel who served there were unimportant. Just that Bush is not an embodiment of pure evil, bent on the destruction of all humanity and the establishment of Satan’s reign on Earth. One would think you might be able to see your way to agreeing that that is probably true.

    Personally, I think he was just a catastrophically bad president who damaged the country and the world, was responsible for countless pointless deaths, and made the rise of a group like ISIS inevitable. But supernatural evil? I can’t go that far.

  69. Pch101 says:

    @Kari Q:

    If Kim Jong-un had attacked Iraq for no particular reason and killed 100,000 civilians, Americans would be denouncing him as a war criminal. And you can bet that some Americans would be comparing him to Hitler because of it.

    Just because Bush was ours doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a bad guy. One reason that much of the world is wary of, ambivalent about and otherwise annoyed by the United States is because of our bold embrace of double standards. We lecture the world about moral superiority, then turn a blind eye to our own crimes.

  70. LaMont says:

    I personally don’t believe it was liberals crying wolf! Many could see the logical conclusion of Trump when the GOP was set bent on all the dog whistles they could get their hands on – beginning with the Tea Part movement! McCain, Palin, Romney and many other Republicans have all participated in the dog whistling. Liberals weren’t crying wolf – they were sounding an alarm that was just regarded as everyday political fodder!

  71. Stormy Dragon says:

    He lamented that liberals had previously described other Republicans in similar terms, a move he said weakened their ability to get individuals to heed their warnings this time around.

    Another thing that happens every election is the miraculous reform of the previous Republican candidate. “I know we said LAST_REPUBLICAN was the anti-Christ, but he really wasn’t that bad. Now CURRENT_REPUBLICAN, he really is the bastard offspring of Satan!”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in four years the usual suspects are telling us how Trump really wasn’t so bad, unlike whomever the new nominee is.

  72. CB says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I never really liked him for the same reason I dislike much of the Fox crew: they are energized by contempt.

    I made up my mind about Maher after watching Religilous with a bunch of friends, who all thought it was hilarious and full of truth to power moments. I found myself wondering if we had watched the same movie, because all I saw was an asshole talking down to people.

  73. Mikey says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in four years the usual suspects are telling us how Trump really wasn’t so bad, unlike whomever the new nominee is.

    Eh, maybe. But Trump is uniquely terrible. It simply may not be possible for anyone to be taken seriously if they try to assert the next GOP nominee is even worse.

  74. Stonetools says:

    So Bill Maher said some bad things, and apologized. Surprisingly, Glenn Beck did so from the other side.

    Waiting for apologies from the following:

    Rush Limbaugh
    Ann Coulter
    Bill O’ Reilly
    Sean Hannity
    Alex Jones
    Michael Savage
    Bannion and the entire Brierbart crew
    All the Pepe the Frog Twitter folk who posted anti-Jewish photos of hook nosed people being shot in the head and pushed into ovens.

    Maybe one side does it much, much more than the other? And apart from Glenn Beck, they aren’t apologizing. At all.

  75. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The last time the Republicans had the White House and both chambers, they didn’t touch Social Security

    You’re right, they didn’t touch it. But only because Bush’s “partial privatization” push failed. Given that this was a few years before, on W’s watch, the stock market went off a cliff, the whole idea remains a bit discredited. Which doesn’t mean they won’t try again as soon as they think they might get away with it.

    Republicans hated SS the day it was passed and ever since. I never understood the hostility since SS was funded by a dedicated payroll tax, which was quite regressive. It barely affected rich people. Now, of course, they’re afraid they will be taxed to repay all the money they borrowed from the SS trust fund to pay for their wars. But I believe the main driver now is that Goldman Sachs and their ilk see that huge pot of money and it kills them that they’re not making any money off it.

  76. gVOR08 says:

    @Pch101:

    A lot of Republicans who despise Trump do so because they think that he’s an untrustworthy liberal. (Imagine that…)

    Given the extent of his lying, who could be sure? About that or anything else.

  77. Pch101 says:

    @gVOR08:

    I had forgotten this until now, but that Eric Florack (sp?) guy who posts here is an example of that kind of Republican. He doesn’t think that Trump is a “true conservative.”

    I would presume that a guy like Florack would probably be OK with a version of Trump that had all of the misogyny and racism, but was more fervent about opposing abortion and supporting tax cuts. His opposition to Trump is genuine, but it comes from a very different place from the liberal position — no one on the left would support Florack’s preferences

  78. al-Ameda says:

    Republicans used to be sincerely interested in preservation of Social Security. Now? Not so much.

    The last time Republicans were seriously working to fix (and not phase-out or attempt to set in motion the privatization of) Social Security, was during the Reagan years at which time a special commission recommended a number of adjustments to the system, ones that set it on its current path of financial stability. Social Security needs another series of adjustments to ensure that it remains a viable program for the next 30 to 40 to 50 years. It all a matter of political will.

    Current Republican leadership is not interested in ‘fixing’ or ‘adjusting’ they’re interested in presiding over it’s transformation to a privatized system.

  79. Kari Q says:

    @Pch101:

    I defy you to find a single post where either of us said he ‘not a bad guy.’

  80. Pch101 says:

    @Kari Q:

    I don’t know why some of you are on the “antichrist” kick. It’s a total strawman.

    Some people use strong language to describe Bush 43 because he oversaw some horrendous acts that would be denounced loudly by Americans if someone outside of the US had perpetrated them. And more to the point, the cries would be a lot louder and more widespread if the victims physically resembled the American majority.

    It’s fair to presume that most of those who would include “antichrist” among their anti-Bush epithets were being figurative and not literal. It’s just shorthand for saying that Bush was very bad, and intentionally ironic because the guy marketed himself as a born-again Christian president.

  81. Paul L. says:

    @gVOR08:
    Daniel Chong case is where the DEA under Obama left someone who was not charged in a cell with no food and water for 5 days.
    The IRS targeting was proven in a court of Law.
    Fats and Furious gunwalking was proven by the DOJ IG report.

  82. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: I don’t know much about the Chang case. I do know your characterization of IRS “targeting” and Fast and Furious cases is straight out of the RW echo chamber with minimal attachment to reality. Yes, ther was “gunwalking” in F&F. Now show me it amounted to more than a couple of guys screwing up.

  83. Kari Q says:

    @Pch101:

    I am on the “antichrist kick” because that is literally what you are arguing against.

    @@Anonne: Anonne:

    Some people wanted to call him the Antichrist, but again, anyone deploying that term doesn’t know Revelation well enough and is just scaring you.

    Bush and the Republican Party enablers were bad. But he still was not the Antichrist.

  84. Pch101 says:

    @Kari Q:

    Not only is the antichrist thing is a strawman, but it shows an inability to grasp the difference between the literal and the figurative, as well as what distinguishes earnestness from irony.

    Virtually nobody said that Bush was the antichrist without some amount of tongue in cheek. To describe the criticisms of Bush in those terms is weak sauce. In reality, the anti-war effort denounced torture and the killing of US troops and innocents in Iraq, which were perfectly reasonable positions to hold.

    The guy led the effort to kill tens of thousands of people. Why wouldn’t we expect some people to be rather unhappy about that?

  85. Paul L. says:

    @gVOR08:
    DOJ have the retract letter claiming there was no “gunwalking”.
    Memos explaining “gunwalking”. went to Holder but he claimed that he did not read them.
    Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein resigned on the day of the DOJ IG report
    Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke resigned.

  86. Kari Q says:

    @Pch101:

    That is far more sensible. If this had been your initial response to Anonne, that it was both rare and figurative rather than literal, I wouldn’t have bothered asking what you were up to.

    I agree that it is highly unlikely anyone literally thought Bush was literally the antichrist, which is why I found it so puzzling that you were so energetically arguing how terrible he was without addressing the fact that Anonne was, him- or herself, using the term literally. Especially since Anonne clearly does not hold Bush in any higher esteem than most of us.

  87. Pch101 says:

    @Kari Q:

    The antichrist comment was such an obviously absurd strawman that no one should have taken it seriously. I was ignoring it until you forced the issue.

    Who can argue with a straight face that the opposition to Bush was largely motivated by a literal fear of Satan? The whole notion is laughable and just a distraction from the substance behind the protest, which is what I was addressing. No comparison at all to the anti-war movement to birtherism or Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

  88. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: “A lot of Republicans believe that racism is a thing of the past. Part of this flows from the belief that the greatest country on earth/land of opportunity couldn’t possibly be like that. And it is wasn’t for the radical Black Lives Matter crowd and all those fools propagating the lie that Islam is a religion of peace, people would see the truth about this greatest nation on God’s green earth.

    Thought I should complete your thought.