A Ruthless Bill Maher Returns with Plenty of Ire for Tea-Baggers, Republicans, and Obama Alike
They once said, if you lose Walter Cronkite, you lose the nation.
But what happens if you lose Bill Maher?
The liberal comedian has surprised friends and foes alike by adding President Barack Obama to his list of usual targets, such as conservatives and the religious right.
"He's just a president and like any president you have to hold their feet to the fire," Maher tells POLITICO.
Maher, who initially praised Obama, changed his tune last season on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," his hour-long political show. He knocked Obama for not standing "up for the 70 percent of Americans who aren't crazy."
"This is not what I voted for" he said, after Obama had failed to meet Maher's expectations on health care and climate change. "What he needs in his personality is a little George Bush. ... What we need to do is to marry the good ideas that Barack Obama has with a little bit of that Bush attitude and certitude."
He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "I don't know if this administration has really caught up to the idea that Americans are a lot more liberal, perhaps, than we think they are." He even compared Obama to Lindsay Lohan: "[W]e see your name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're actually going to do something."
Maher returns for his eighth season of "Real Time" on Feb. 19. And the question is, will Maher continue to sour on Obama?
You can count on it.
"I used to get booed for it and now everyone seems to be marching to that beat," Maher told POLITICO, adding that he's noticed at stand-up shows that his loyal liberal fans have started to appreciate his outspokenness against Obama. "In one way, it's kind of progress, the fact that he's been in office a year and the novelty has worn off. He's not the first black president anymore that the left wing feels a need to coddle."
"I'd like to see results," said Maher. "I still don't see him completely backing what a lot of us would like him to back, with the full force of his office."
Obama's difficulties with health care reform in Congress remain a sore spot for Maher. "I don't know why he doesn't just demand that the House pass the Senate bill, and then tweak it in reconciliation and tell Glenn Beck to shove his tea bag up his a**. Could he do that?"
In fact, Maher thinks Obama needs to stop worrying about Republican support entirely. "I've been trying to tell the president over and over again about the right wing: They're just not that into you. He's the wrong party, the wrong age, the wrong color and no matter how much he reaches out, they're just never going to vote for him."
As for the upcoming season of "Real Time," he expects to pay plenty of attention to newly elected Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).
"This Scott Brown looks to me like he's going to be a real a**hole," says Maher. "Anybody who could win an election with the slogan, 'I drive a truck,' just really bothers me. ... 'Mr. 41' also bothers me that he signs '41' on all his autographs because he's so proud that he can block votes on things that the majority of Americans want. He's a regular Gandhi - if Gandhi took off his diaper and posed for Cosmo."
And, as for the 2012 election, Maher isn't convinced that a second Obama term is assured. "Anytime you have unemployment over 10 percent, I think there's an excellent chance you won't be reelected," he says. "And if none of his signature legislative goals get accomplished - health care, cap and trade, banking reform - if none of these things really get done, he's going to look very ineffectual."