Bill Maher addressed the Rally to Restore Sanity on “Real Time” last night, but I don’t see it as a “diss” or a “harsh critique,” as some bloggers wrote today. Rather, I think what Maher’s saying here is more along the lines of “Nice job, guys, but if you do this again, let’s try something a little different.” An excerpt:
When Jon [Stewart] announced his rally, he said that the national conversation is dominated by people on the right who believe Obama’s a socialist and people on the left who believe 9/11 was an inside job. But I can’t name any Democratic leaders who think 9/11 was an inside job. But Republican leaders who think Obama’s a socialist? All of them. McCain, Boehner, Cantor, Palin, all of them. It’s now official Republican dogma, like tax cuts pay for themselves and gay men just haven’t met the right woman.
Stewart said from the start that the rally was an apolitical, nonpartisan one, which of course is arguable given the positions he takes on “The Daily Show” every night, so calling out the crazies of each side, regardless of the equivalence of their craziness, is all about keeping up apolitical, nonpartisan appearances. He wanted the rally to appeal to as wide an audience as possible — if showing some clips of Olbermann mixed in with Beck and Hannity would help attract people from the right, so be it. And maybe that’s an understated point Stewart was making, the same thing that Maher picked up on: that the crazies on the right far outnumber the crazies on the left.
(I mostly enjoyed the rally, watching it from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy, but Stewart’s 12-minute speech at the end is what saved it from being a disappointment. Going in, I’d hoped more of the three hours would be like that. Instead, we got Kid Rock(?) and Sheryl Crow(?), which was weird, but at least gave viewers at home a bathroom break during the commercial-free three hours.)
Maher is using the Rally to Restore Sanity here as an example in a larger argument, with which I totally agree, that “two opposing sides don’t necessarily have two compelling arguments.” We do ourselves a disservice oftentimes by pretending the other side has an equally valid point. Sometimes, they’re simply wrong, like when they say that climate change is a hoax, or that gays and gay marriage destroy “family values,” or that all Muslims are secretly plotting to make America an Islamic state.
An example of this thinking on a macro level is the idea that Fox News Channel is on the same plane as, and is a competitor to, MSNBC and CNN. It’s pretty clearly not. Just because something has “News” in its name doesn’t mean it’s a news organization. A more accurate description of Fox News might be “a right-wing entertainment channel that occasionally reports live events.” MSNBC, despite its apparent attempt to mirror Fox from the left, still has journalistic standards, proven this week with the Olbermann debacle. Fox, as Rachel Maddow shows in this clip, has allowed its hosts to endorse and fundraise for Republican candidates (even on the air!) and currently employs nearly every potential 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The “Fair and Balanced” network, Fox apparently doesn’t feel the need to balance out its stable of high-profile conservative contributors.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans’ No. 1 goal for the next two years is — no, not creating jobs or fixing the deficit or making sure America stays competitive in a global marketplace (silly you for thinking that!) — to ensure Barack Obama’s defeat in the 2012 presidential election. THAT’S THEIR NO. 1 GOAL! How utterly ridiculous is that statement? So, basically, Republicans are going to spend the next two years using any influence they have to gum up the legislative process and make Obama as ineffective a president as they can. Cool. Very cool. Good use of your time and efforts, Republicans.
Remember when we all had Myspaces and you could share your mood with everyone? Mine would read “Exasperated.” I need a beer.