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“Real Time” host Bill Maher was torn about President Biden’s anti-MAGA speech that has dominated the political conversation for the past week.
“I gotta say — Joe Biden is an old dog that can learn a new trick,” Maher began on Friday. “He came into office — ‘I’m going to reconcile with Republicans, the old Republican Party’ — he finally got it through his head. No they’re not — you cannot negotiate with election-deniers.”
“So 59% of the people agree with him in this speech about MAGA is a threat to this country because they don’t believe in democracy. But 58% of the people said this speech was divisive. I get this because I feel like it’s kind of analogous to Afghanistan. That he did it? I like. The way they did it? Not good,” he continued.
Maher later suggested he didn’t think people saw the speech since it didn’t air on the major networks, something he believed contributed to Biden’s “big mistake” of thinking Americans can “appreciate nuance.”
“He wanted to separate Republicans from MAGA Republicans. And let me give you the four criteria he said are a MAGA Republican: you reject the election results, you support the candidates who would reject election results — of which there are many on the ballot this November, approve of the January 6 rioters, support the political use of violence. Okay, that’s who he was talking to. No one heard this!” Maher exclaimed. “They didn’t watch this speech. All they heard was he attacked us. He attacked our side. That’s where his big mistake was. People are not good enough to appreciate nuance in this country.”
“They didn’t hear this. If he had made a speech that critiqued the fringe of both sides, I think he would be in such a winning place. Sure, on MSNBC, they would be saying, ‘No, that’s false equivalencies.’ So f—ing what? Do you want to save the country or do you want to win points?” Maher asked, which sparked cheers from his audience.
He continued, “Yes, there would be some false equivalencies. If he had made a speech to that middle-of-the-country guy that we were talking about who’s actually all over the country… If he had called out the people he did call out, the MAGA side, but then said, ‘And the Left, my party has a lot of crazy s— that’s going on.’ And if he said, ‘We don’t want people who don’t want fascism and don’t want to lose the right to an abortion, and also don’t want their children indoctrinated when they go to school and called out some of that, I think it would have been such a big moment for the country.”
The HBO star then clashed with one of his guests, Reason Magazine editor-at-large Matt Welch, who claimed “there’s a lot of election denial” within the Democratic Party, pointing to Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who never formally conceded her 2018 defeat.
“I don’t know why a smart guy like you would go there,” Maher reacted. “Please, Al Gore conceded the election. Hillary Clinton got in her purple suit, okay? That’s just the worst one to fight that on. Maybe Stacey Abrams wasn’t as gracious as she should have been — that issue a — Republicans own that issue of election denial. And Democrats have to own other crazy s— where, you know, a bodega guy gets attacked and then he’s brought up on charges because he fought back. Go to war on that!”
“There’s something every day that Biden could have picked out and said, ‘And my side has gone too far on this.’ And yes, it wouldn’t be equivalent, but the country could then — the people in the middle and the people who don’t want to feel like you’re just attacking my team would be like, ‘Yes, finally.’ And then he could not have to run again,” he added.