Sunday, March 7, 2010

The People's Voice?

In his latest editorial at the end of Friday’s Real Time, Bill Maher put out a poignant plea for the public’s understanding and sympathy toward Hollywood’s big, self-promoting pat on the back that’s known as the Oscars. That one, special night, says our lad, is deserved, because – well, because Hollywood is just about the one major industry which is productive and successful in America these days. (Never mind the fact that it was a foreign film which won ‘Best Picture’ last year, or the fact that foreign actors regularly go off with a gong, or even the fact that quite a lot of films are made outside Hollywood these days.
But Bill wouldn’t know that, would he? I mean, considering the fact that he rarely ventures outside the Hollywood bubble, except to slide into various cities for one night only, check into a hotel room, deliver 90 minutes of stand-up and then depart for the West Coast, yet again, by private jet, no doubt … but we’ll forgive him, because he’s our lad and speaks for those of us on the Left, so we won’t worry too much about the extra carbon footprint. Hey, we’ll be magnanimous and global and extend the same sort of licence to be hypocritical to Mr and Mrs Sting and Bono too. This trio has the art of preaching virtues to the little men of the world, whilst enjoying the greatest and most gluttonous of excesses themselves … because they can.
Bill calls the Oscars’ night ‘Hollywood’s Prom.’ And we should allow our hard-working and overpaid celebrities one night of libertine fun, because they work so hard for us, entertaining us, whilst pocketing our hard-earned dough that we can ill-afford to pay – either to catch the latest Clooney flick or even to pay close to a hundred bucks to see Bill say the same thing he’s said countless times before on Real Time for ninety minutes.
I don’t begrudge Bill his success. I suppose he’s paid his dues, in addition to being in the right place at the right time; it’s not my problem, but his, that he – like countless others – has appeared to have forgotten his antecedents once he’s tasted success. Ne’mind … I had the same problem digesting Margaret Thatcher’s use of the royal ‘we’, choosing, instead, to remember that she, like Cardinal Wolsey, came from pretty common stock.
What I do have a problem with, in relation to Bill, is the fact that he continues to present himself as a voice of the Progressives in this nation. In fact, in this latest editorial, he refers to himself as a Progressive.
I am sorry. I dispute that.
On the episode which aired on October 2, 2009, Bill remarked to his guest, David Cross, that he favoured the death penalty. Bill’s said this countless times before, and on this occasion, remarked, “I always say, if you get’em once with the old death penalty, they sure as hell won’t kill again.”
Do we know any Progressives who are in favour of the death penalty?
On a tweet rendered in late December, after the successful capture of the Underpants bomber, Bill tweeted that he was in favour of racial profiling at airports, because “little, old, white ladies were not terrorists.” (Hey, Bill … don’t give the terrorists any ideas).
On a program which aired March 13, 2009, Bill enthusiastically remarked how much in favour he was of Obama’s slapping down the teachers’ unions, and he went on to rant about how much he disliked unions in general. Later in the year, he reiterated this again. So, he’s anti-union. How many Progressives are against the concept of collective bargaining and union representation?
And, finally, on the penultimate program of Real Time last season, he admitted to no less than Bill Frist that he didn’t want the government to have anything to do with his healthcare. This was after making a brilliant analogy for single-payer by comparing government-controlled healthcare to be as efficient as the government-controlled Post Office.
I know, I know … the Post Office isn’t really that efficient, but Bill’s a bit of a Luddite when he’s caught unawares. He’s probably not even aware of the cost of a first class stamp. He just knows that when he writes a letter to his sister in New Jersey on Monday, she has it on Wednesday, two days later. That, in this day of e-mail and conference calling, is just a gratuitous Saturday Evening Post moment, but it served its purpose and Bill pushed the single-payer envelope for the rest of the season … until Bill Frist appeared and unsettled him.
So, Bill Maher, Progressive:
1. believes in the death penalty
2. believes in racial profiling
3. is anti-union
4. and doesn’t want the government to have any say in his healthcare.
Because I’m a tolerant person and because I genuinely like Bill and like my heroes to have feet of clay, I’ll be nice and say that sure as hell sounds like a Blue Dog to me; but to others, it might just have a whiff of a closet Republican about it.
Either way, Bill Maher is no more the voice of any Progressive any more than he is the voice of the middle classes, whose fashionable plight he was pushing on Friday’s show.
If Bill were to spend one month in either the South or flyover country, living the life of a middle-aged middle-class man, on an average wage, with credit cards and bills to pay, a mortgage and a clapped-out second-hand car to maintain, without the security guards or an available Whole Foods … if he were to rise to that challenge and do that and THEN presume to speak for the middle classes, I might give him the kudos and plaudits I’m witholding.
But I’d still say he was a Blue Dog, politically.
And maybe a Republican … but until then, most definitely, more than a little bit of a hypocrite.

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