Bill Maher may be the only prominent political commentator in America who is loudly and proudly rooting for a recession. The acerbic host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher knows that a major recession would sabotage the U.S. economy but he says it would be well worth it if the downturn also torpedoed the reelection bid by President Donald J. Trump.
“We have survived recessions, we can survive another one,” Maher said. “I don’t think we can survive another [White House term for] Trump.”
The national mood doesn’t lend itself to carefree levity in this grim moment in time but, on the other hand, these have been banner days for political absurdity and cynical venom, two of Maher’s hallmark skills. And on Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher the host doubled down on those reliable favorites by savaging Trump for his laziness, his intellect, his narcissism, his policy ignorance, his hair, his traffic-cone complexion, etc.
On Trump’s awkward visit to victims: “Imagining waking up from surgery and standing over you this grinning, gaseous blob and his scowling trophy wife. People must be like, ‘S—, I must have died and gone to hell.’ They’re like, ‘I’m in the hospital, I’ve had enough orange Jell-O.'”
On lawmakers: “Here’s a sobering statistic: Gun violence has paralyzed 535 people in this country this year. They’re called the United States Congress.”
On the relentless bad news: “What a shitty week. Poor El Paso and Dayton, still reeling from two disasters: a mass shooting, and a Trump visit.”
On Fox News servicing Trump’s ego and agenda: “If they did anything more for him they’d have to call it Fox & Friends with Benefits.”
On Trump’s shrill personality patterns: “It’s all about how he’s feeling…this week after the massacres he attacked the media, Obama, Google, Sharon Brown, the mayor of Dayton, Beto, California, Sleepy Joe…he’s the only president who thinks consoler-in-chief means you console him.”
Maher waited a beat after the consoler-in-chief gag and punctuated the sentiment with the verbal equivalent of an eye jab: “And also he’s a whiny little bitch.” The show’s Los Angeles studio audience roared their approval for Maher’s audacity but the putdown isn’t a new one and did the comedian re-deliver the insult with a tinge of weary resignation this time?
After the spasms of horror and tragedy that have played out in recent days in Texas and in Ohio, television’s late-night talk show hosts have been hard-pressed to find the proper tone amid the contemporary American epidemic of mass-killings that now feels like an open-ended national disaster.
That task was complicated further when Trump’s reaction to the shooting massacres was an antagonistic one that deflected blame toward violent video games and bemoaned the national danger presented by Hollywood and its “racist” liberal agenda.
Former Virgina Gov. Terry McAuliffe was the night’s first guest. NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent and MSNBC host Richard Engel was the guest for the mid-show interview segment. The roundtable portion of the show Maher moderated a discussion with U.S. Naval War College professor and author Tom Nichols; Washington Post op-ed columnist and CNN commentator Catherine Rampell; and author and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.
McAuliffe said Trump’s comments in recent weeks have revealed the politician’s true nature. Trump “came out” as “a full-fledged racist and white nationalist during Charlottesville,” the former Virginia governor said.
Scaramucci spoke of the need of Americans to finds ways to rally behind the president in the final 15 months of his term. He also spoke in synthetic tones about the vexing barrage of challenges that face any and every president.
But the Trump loyalist also expressed an impatience with the incumbent’s volatility and belligerence: “I do try to defend [Trump], but there are certain things he’s done that are absolutely indefensible…What I’m astonished by is the lack of courage of Republican elected leaders not to pick up the phone and call him out.”
Scaramucci also questioned Trump’s fundamental understanding of trade and tariff issues. “A tariff is a regressive tax. Lower-middle income people pay it and small business people pay it. The Chinese are not paying the tariffs. I wish he would stop saying that.”
Rampell, meanwhile, scoffed at the sincerity of GOP rhetoric: “If Republicans actually gave a damn about treating mental illness, they wouldn’t have spent the last 10 years trying to repeal Obamacare.”
The somber-speaking Engel spoke of encroaching Nazism in Europe, the souring domestic morale here in the U.S., and the intensifying desperation in Iran: “The situation in the Persian Gulf, which is already dangerous…could escalate a couple of notches, because Iran feels it has been forced into a corner.”
Maher ended his show-closing “New Rules” segment with a tirade against Democratic president candidates trying to “pull some that woke liberal time-machine bullshit.”
“This is the new trick in Democratic politics,” he said. “Dig up something your opponent said decades ago that looks bad by today’s standards and pretend that that’s mic-drop evidence of your awesome moral superiority. … Liberals are funny — they believe in evolution except when it comes to people.”