The Synonymous Bill Maher

What do you call a person who’s something that he says he’s not? Well, you wouldn’t be far from right if you said, “Bill Maher,” because he’s made being what he says he’s not a fine art. Consider this performance from Tuesday night’s Rachel Maddow show, his sentiments about the Occupy Wall Street Movement – oh, and by the way, this is Bill Maher, political pundit here:-

After hearing this drivel, my first thought was to hope that Bill Maher didn’t come back in the next life as a pond or a stream, because his shallowness is still showing here. I don’t know when Bill decided to abdicate his ability for free thought and opinion to Queen Ratfucker Omnipotent of Medialand, but pushing that lie that the Tea Party started out along the same anti-corporate track that OWS is traveling now just doesn’t wash true anymore.

Kudos to Maddow for reminding Bill that Rick Santelli “started” the Tea Party movement (which I suspect had been a previously organised plot hatched by the Kochs and all their acolytes, lying in waiting for the apt moment to arrive); and I seem to recall Santelli’s gripe concerned the proposals to help those encumbered with bad mortgages. Santelli’s gripe was having his taxes pay for a house his neighbour couldn’t afford. Sounds pretty Ron-Paul-cum-Koch libertarianism to me.

But look, I know Queen Ratfucker pushed that “it’s not Left-or-Right dahlink” meme early on in the Obama administration. She even availed herself of airtime on Bill’s show to implore that Progressives join forces with the Tea Party to fight the big banks (as if the Tea Party were ever really about that at all). She enlisted Joe Scarborough to suggest that Progressives and Tea Partiers could find common ground.

Of course, all that changed when Madame went corporate and Maher bowed from the waist in hommage to her new-found wealth, made at the expense of utilising unpaid labour – that’s euphemistic for slavery in any other language.

Then, there’s Bill’s take on Mormonism from the interview, which is just as disconcerting:-

Ummm, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been led to believe that Mormons were Christians – a slightly more divergent Protestant denomination, but Christian, nonetheless, and Protestant. So Bill’s showing his ignorance right there. Like Bill, I was raised Catholic too, and I knew nothing about magic underwear or the Angel Moroni until my cousin converted to the Mormon faith in order to marry her husband. I daresay that Mormon kids know nothing about St Therese of Lisieux or the Holy Shroud of Turin either.

And as for Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping, Bill should be right at home with that. He does it regularly, adapting the political views of whichever strident guest or man crush he’s entertaining.

For example, lets watch a very conflicted Bill on his most recent show, sandwiched between former Palin tutor Nicolle Wallace and Bill’s ultimate boys’own hero P J O’Rourke and pitted against Huey Long wannabe, Alan Grayson:-


Notice that, at first, Bill is right along side with O’Rourke, disparaging of the “hippies,” the demographic which he perceives to be at the heart of the OWS movement. He even has a name for them … “OWS”. There’s critical and disparaging banter between the two men, before Bill decides that OWS needs to be focused and that they definitely needed some organisational advice, which was smugly contributed by Nicolle Wallace. Actually, apart from the logistics of portacabins, Wallace’s advice was valid (more of that below), but once Alan Grayson warms to his favourite subject of listing justifiable grievances that corporatism has brought to the lives of ordinary folk, and once O’Rourke starts to challenge him in that silly, belittling way he has, Maher becomes conflicted.

Alan Grayson is fashionable Left politics. He blogs on Daily Kos and Huffington Post. He’s on Countdown regularly. The cool kids like Grayson, the sort of people Bill likes to count amongst his fan base.

But I was always of the opinion that Maher, for all the times he has had Grayson on his show, isn’t that big a fan. He first had Grayson on shortly after he initially made a name for himself as a freshman Congressman when, in a House speech, he satirically outlined the Republican healthcare plan. Bill was clearly (and a bit jealously) taken aback by Grayson’s quick wit in their first interview.

So when Grayson, on his latest appearance, proclaimed himself the moral and spiritual spokesperson of the OWS movement, and when O’Rourke lampooned this, Maher was quiet. He fence-straddled. That must have been singularly uncomfortable in many ways.

Fast forward to Tuesday night, and Maher’s completely in the pocket and onside with this movement that the Left, with whom this overtly misogynistic, covertly racist, death penalty supporter still identifies himself.

When he wrongfoots initially, trying to link OWS with the origins of the Tea Party a la Huffington, he quickly walks back his remarks until he reckons he gets the message right for the audience he’s courting.

To any critically thinking person who’s paid attention to Bill Maher over the years, they’d easily spot the anomaly and see how he’s becoming synonymous with hypocrisy.

But back to something Nicolle Wallace has said, specifically about the OWS movement having a viable spokesman, who can get their objectives across, cogently, to the media.

Michael Tomasky, writing in The Daily Beast, also addresses this problem, worried that this potential Leftwing movement may proved to have learned nothing from the failures of the last Leftwing movement from 1968. And here, Tomasky, a Liberal, agrees with Wallace:-

And this is where today’s protesters need to steal a page from the Tea Party activists. I beg, plead, implore, importune: Get some spokespeople out there for the cause who are just regular Americans. Don’t send Van Jones out there to be the public face of this movement. I happen to have a high opinion of Van Jones personally. He’s dedicated his life to justice in a higher-stakes way than I have. But any movement that is led by someone who was forced to resign from the White House and who signed a 9/11 truther petition will be dismissed by the mainstream media as left-wing and elitist in three seconds. You may like that or not like that, but it’s true.

The genius of the Tea Party movement lies entirely in the fact that its public faces were, by and large, regular Americans. How many stories did we all read about the homemaker from Wilkes-Barre and the IT guy from Dubuque who’d never been involved in politics in their lives and never thought they would be until the Tea Party came along? These people resonate with other Americans: “She’s my neighbor; he’s just like me.” That gave the Tea Party movement incredible force and made the media take it seriously, and making the media take you seriously is, alas, at least half the battle in our age.

The OWS movement is part of the way there. The “We Are the 99 Percent” trope is powerful. It is true. But the movement has to prove that it really is the 99 percent. It has to win middle America, and the way to win middle America is to be middle America. For all the Seattle-ish longhairs down in Zucotti Park—whom the mainstream media and the right wing will undoubtedly highlight—there are, to be sure, homemakers in Wilkes-Barre and IT guys in Dubuque who sympathize. Find them. Put them out there. Get them on cable.

And finally, don’t fight the man. Maybe in 1968 in Grant Park, the cops were pigs. Today, the cops aren’t pigs. They aren’t the man. They’re working stiffs, and they’re part of the 99 percent. They have underwater mortgages in Ronkonkoma and Orangeburg. Don’t make them arrest you. Make them part of the 99 percent. And don’t mess with traffic. That just pisses people off.

An execrable legacy of ’68 is the temptation to treat politics as a realm of self-expression. But it isn’t. Politics is where you go to get things done, to change things. Changing things means persuading those people sitting at home watching on TV. The bulk of those people have been persuaded that they don’t like government. But they also know that the system is rigged against them. Get them on your side. Be them. They’ll be with you, if you only invite them along.

All of the above pretty much sums up what OWS has to do to move society in the direction they want it to go, but – once again – this has to involve ordinary middle Americans, a tranche of society disdained by the radical chic and the streetfighters of the late 1960s. It means involving people from Flyover and Shitkicker country, the sort whom the likes of Bill Maher dislike and avoid. It means hard graft and patience and communication and inclusion. It means that there are more people suffering what you’re suffering than you’d care to admit, and many of those may not vote your way.

And I’d add to Tomasky’s list of people to avoid as a spokesperson for this cause one, Alan Grayson. Grayson, one must remember, is a politician, who is running to re-attain the Congressional seat he lost in the 2010 Midterms. Until now, people within this movement have been loathe to have politicians appropriate their movement. It’s wise to remember that Grayson is, at the end of the day, a politician, and that can be synonymous with something too.