Bill Maher is many things. He’s an established comedian with his own show. He’s an influential voice in politics and pop culture. And he’s well-spoken, honest, and happy to engage in controversial subjects.
He’s also a militant atheist and committed leftist. He’s unbearably smug and condescending. And he’s frequently flat-out wrong in most of his judgments.
Yet, Maher enjoys a surprising amount of respect and admiration from conservatives, some of whom will even credit him as “the most important political voice in America in 2022” and a voice willing to stand up for reason and sanity. This is because he will actually question some of the left’s more extreme ideas and face occasional backlash for it.
Curiously, rather than figure Maher as another leftist comedian occasionally bucking woke leftist stupidity (similar to Ricky Gervais or Dave Chappelle), many conservatives insist on casting Maher as a unique voice transcending partisanship and advocating common sense and common good to a hopelessly polarized nation. Somehow, he is less a crass comedian, and more a humorous intellectual seeking out the truth wherever it takes him.
Maher Only Challenges His Party to Make It Stronger
With all due respect to the people who hold this view, Maher is nothing of the kind. His goal has never been to uncover truth or facilitate public discourse but to help his side and hurt the other side. This alone explains his occasional contentions with some leftist ideas, like performing mutilative sex surgeries and giving hormone blockers to young children. He doesn’t care about the truth, much less children; he cares about the leftist brand and the Democratic Party which is losing popularity because of this nonsense.
To suggest otherwise is to give credit to a person who deserves the opposite. As Elle Reynolds thoroughly proves, Maher is no friend to conservatives even though he occasionally questions leftist stupidity. Although this might seem helpful in drawing back the extremists from the ledge of insanity, Reynolds explains how Maher’s celebrated truth bombs are so obvious that they hardly even qualify as points: “If a lifelong practitioner of left-wing thought popped into the conversation to say that murder is bad, that parents shouldn’t beat or starve their children, or that we shouldn’t march the Marines to Ottawa and pillage cities in their path, he would hardly deserve applause.”
Meanwhile, the great majority of his monologues and comedy routines are rants about conservatives and Christians. For Maher, Christians and conservatives are stupid rubes who envy the sophistication and wealth of progressives. Before Wanda Sykes whined about the “red stuff” (that is, red states) ruining America, Maher delivered a whole monologue deriding middle America, filled with cringe-inducing lines like, “We have Chef Wolfgang Puck. They have Chef Boyardee.”
If Maher could be credited with anything, it’s that he has become very good at looking like a serious intellectual who’s occasionally funny without actually being either. No doubt, his fans probably feel they are learning something when they listen to him. But as soon as his captive audience of clapping seals is gone, it becomes immediately apparent that Maher is another thoughtless, out-of-touch celebrity. This was revealed when he interviewed Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who completely refuted Maher’s contention that President Trump was mishandling the Covid response and made Maher look like an idiot.
How Bill Maher Made Comedy More Partisan (and Therefore Worse)
But for all that, shouldn’t Maher be credited with at least reaching across the proverbial political and cultural aisle, and exposing himself to these kinds of moments? Doesn’t this help his audiences put aside some of the differences that they have with other Americans?
A better question to ask is whether Maher’s occasional willingness to dissent from his party and talk with guys like Ben Shapiro has actually done anything to help with political polarization. After all, Maher’s been doing this a very long time, for at least three decades, since his show “Politically Incorrect” aired during the bipartisan golden days of the Clinton administration. Yet, for all his troubles, the left has become far more extreme and the country has become more polarized.
In many ways, Maher deserves much of the blame for this. He was one of the first comedians on television to make political partisanship a central component of his comedy. He preceded Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and all the other talk show hosts who now do the same thing.
Besides amounting to unfunny propaganda, Maher and these comedians’ brand of humor has mostly had the effect of stifling debate and reinforcing leftist orthodoxy. Anyone who dares to work with Republicans or breathes a word of sympathy for conservative ideas will now face the wrath of these court jesters and their followers. As a result, they have largely turned serious political discussions into puerile banter and transformed leftist pundits and politicians into sassy mean girls.
Maher’s willingness to criticize his own side for the sake of a few laughs shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking that there is any serious debate going on with Democrats. There isn’t, and this problem is currently making them increasingly unpopular among American voters and is inhibiting their ability to legislate and govern. Anyone who dares question this, who isn’t an officially recognized provocateur like Bill Maher, will face immediate cancellation.
By contrast, conservatives and Republicans prove their devotion to the marketplace of ideas by arguing with one another all the time, as I’m doing right now. And, as nasty as these debates can be, they do bear fruit. They have made the GOP a stronger party that has more support and better ideas on how to run the country. These debates also make conservative media much more interesting and informative than what one typically gets from the leftist corporate media.
Like the broken clock that has the correct time twice a day, Bill Maher will occasionally come to the right conclusions on current events. However, he is a now rich old man who has done substantial damage to public discourse. Nothing he can say now should merit anyone’s admiration, let alone their attention.