The final show of Bill Maher’s Real Time fall season on HBO arrived Friday night. “I will miss seeing half your faces and the roar of muffled laughter,” he joked about his masked audience. Maher returns for his spring season on January 21, 2022.
Before going, the political comedian delivered a solid show, with guest Fareed Zakaria leading off. The discussion centered on his upcoming television special, China’s Iron Fist, which debuts November 21 on CNN and CNN International,
Maher asked the obvious question. “Who will dominate the 21st century?” Zakaria called China “The most serious competition the United States has ever faced. The Chinese are doing AI, biotech, hi-speed rail – the industries of the future.”
To combat that, Zakaria prescribed, “We have to hustle, work hard, and take this seriously.” To that end, he pointed out all the advantages the US has in its universities and research, not to mention that this nation has 59 treaty allies to China’s one, North Korea.
Maher was less enthusiastic. “I think we’re going to lose. They’re building all over the world. They can make things happen.” He added later of his fellow Americans, “We’re lazy. We’re spoiled. We’re not in good health.”
Zakaria said there’s still reason to hope. “The best in America – they’re working hard. They’re hustling. You don’t need all of the society to do it. But you have to support the talented people.” He warned against canceling those who speak out of turn and anger the Twitter mobs.
Maher’s panel of New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams and former N.J. Governor Chris Christie was up next. Christie is the author of the new book, Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden.
Maher started the discussion by reading quotes from both about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial verdict today. Adams expressed disappointment in his quote, while Christie said that the decision was the right one, winning boos from the audience.
“I look at it as a prosecutor,” Christie said in his own defense. “The laws are what they are. In the end, the evidence they had did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If you object, then change the laws.”
Maher pressed on re: Rittenhouse. “What’s the message it sends?” He then opined that if the police aren’t doing their job, as many contended about the Kenosha police in the Jacob Blake shooting aftermath, some people believe “Then the citizens have full police power. That’s been the response.”
Christie agreed. “But you can’t use an individual case to send a broader societal message if the laws don’t cover that. You have to make it clear to people that they can’t take the law into their own hands.”
Adams came out against what he termed “the fringe elements” of the left and the right. “We must take our country back,” he said. “We are allowing the fringe elements to really hijack what everyday Americans want.” He added, “Being pragmatic is progressive.”
Maher tried to get Adams to define himself as a political centrist, which the Mayor-elect refused to do. He later turned up the heat on Christie, trying to bait him into denouncing a potential Donald Trump 2024 presidential run. Christie refused to say what his opinion would be in three years, but expertly deflected Maher’s attention by noting his one wish on the evening: “That I had worn Eric’s jacket,” a reference to Adams’s rather boldly checkered piece of attire.
In his editorial to close out the fall season, Maher offered his wisdom on the Democrats election strategy going forward in the wake of their Virginia gubernatorial race humbling.
“The way this party is running for office is making me gag,” Maher said, adding, “You’re alienating a lot of people. I’d say do the math, but math is still a form of white supremacy.”
Maher begged the progressives that have a large voice in the party to notice that voters support action on climate change, but “also need money to pump water out of the subway. Can we do that before building a worker’s paradise?”
Why is the party considered out of touch? “In plain English, nobody likes a snob,” Maher said, adding later, “Politics is not artisan. It’s “Art” and “Stan.” Your micro-agression culture doesn’t play in the Rust Belt. He went on to talk of the “plainly excessive things of the left. You can’t cancel Lincoln.”
He hammered on the gradual shifting of the acceptance of the word “woke,” which is now used as a battering ram by some radicals to make people who use it feel out of touch. That tactic is not helping build bridges, Maher said. “It makes you think of people who wake up offended and take their orders from Twitter.”
To conclude, he challenged Democrats to go on Fox News and other conservative outlets and make their case. “Go where the amen corner isn’t. Winning is about expanding the electorate.”