HBO has perhaps made Bill Maher America's nastiest talk show host. He's also America's most prominent, militant atheist. Now he's made himself the most prominent million-dollar donor to Barack Obama's super PAC, Priorities USA. He broke out a big check onstage in San Jose to advertise his magnanimous support.
A few days ago, NBC's resident feminist Andrea Mitchell practically needed smelling salts when Santorum super-PAC backer Foster Friess repeated a very old (and equally innocent) joke about Bayer aspirin being used as birth control. This somehow became the scandal of the day for Rick Santorum.
So why don't Bill Maher's "jokes" now blow back on Barack Obama?
Obama ascended to the White House on an alleged cloud of positive energy and bridge-building (if you forget all his campaign's nasty commercials and just follow his press clips). Bill Maher is the opposite. He is the epitome of self-indulgent Hollywood liberalism, a man who shamelessly denounces the rest of America as a nation full of idiots.
But now they own each other. Maher wrote the check; Obama cashed it. Mitchell and everyone else, shouldn't you be asking some questions in the interest of that lost journalism art -- fairness?
Start with the ancient commentaries. Bill Maher is the man who used the Christopher Reeve riding-accident tragedy to rant against the cruelty of riding horses. This is the man who "joked" in 2000 that he hoped O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris, Florida's Republican secretary of state. This is the man dropped by ABC in 2001 for calling our fighter pilots "cowards," while the 9/11 terrorists who died flying into a building full of innocent people were "not cowardly."
Shouldn't team Obama send the million dollars back? Reject Maher -- or own him.
There is Maher's arrogant description of George W. Bush as a "retarded child emperor" and a "terrorist's wet dream." There's his description of the Catholic Church as a "child-abusing religious cult" with a pope that "used to be a Nazi." Catholics go to church every Sunday to fund the "Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia." The bigoted rants are endless. He even produced a documentary full of them.
Shouldn't team Obama send the million dollars back? If not, shouldn't he be held accountable?
Maybe Obama does want ownership. Maybe he wants to start his general-election campaign by reminding all the conservatives that his million-dollar donors want them to die violent deaths. In addition to Katherine Harris, let's review who Maher jokes should be dead.
There's Rush Limbaugh: "Why couldn't he have croaked from (Oxycontin) instead of Heath Ledger?"
Dick Cheney when he was vice president: "I'm just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That's a fact."
When Glenn Beck was a Fox News host: "When we see crazy, senseless deaths like this, we can only ask why, why, why couldn't it have been Glenn Beck?"
Sarah Palin: "Sarah Palin screaming about death panels? You know what, Sarah, if we were killing off useless people, you'd be the first to know."
And Rush Limbaugh again: "Do it (repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell) because it will make Rush Limbaugh explode like a bag full of meat dropped from a helicopter. Do it because it will make Sarah Palin 'go rogue' in her pants."
Shouldn't team Obama send the million dollars back? Hello, MSNBC? CNN?
Bill Maher went on CNN to tell Piers Morgan just how much it hurt him personally to part with a million smackers to fund Obama's "priorities." Maher went on MSNBC to tell Chris Matthews that he sent in a million dollars because he wanted to "throw a snowball to create an avalanche here" to let cocky liberals know that not everyone in America shares the leg thrills of Chris Matthews. (He didn't actually say it that way, because that might have been amusing.)
Maher thinks the race is going to be tight, so he needs to start a liberal "avalanche." But the problem for Maher is that it's his loud mouth that could cause the avalanche. It's his vicious denunciations that could risk turning the election against Obama. He represents the sour turn of the left, the transformation from team hope and change to team fear and smear.
Now you understand the silence from MSNBC and CNN and everyone else.
Perhaps we should hope team Obama is too cocky to send Bill Maher's million dollars back. These clips of Maher might make a nice super-PAC commercial against Obama. At which point you can expect 1) Obama will condemn the excesses of big money in politics, and (b) Maher will wish someone dead.