Bill Maher needed backup.
The HBO host has built a career on combining a sharp wit with deadpan, sometimes malicious humor that draws predictable applause from his left-leaning “Real Time” audience.
But when he tried to take on Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw on Friday, Maher was stuck in his own home – thanks to the coronavirus lockdown – and without the benefit of a crowd to support him, he got taken apart with cold logic.
On everything from President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inept attacks to hackneyed liberal criticism of Republican respect for voting rights, Maher was simply outclassed by the Texas congressman.
— Austen Fletcher (@fleccas) April 19, 2020
The conversation started out friendly enough, with Maher praising Crenshaw’s handling of a disgraceful affair when he was mocked by Pete Davidson, the “Saturday Night Live” comic who thought it was funny to make fun of a man who’d lost an eye in military service to his country.
Crenshaw responded that Maher tends to be more open-minded than most on the left these days – which is true enough. But the bar there is so low as to be nonexistent.
The chumminess ended, though, when Maher tried to turn the interview into an attack on Trump, and Crenshaw more than had his defenses ready.
Not only did Trump act quickly to protect Americans from the coronavirus with the Jan. 31 ban on travelers from China, Crenshaw said, but the president actually faced open Democratic resistance in doing it.
“That same day, on Jan. 31, Nancy Pelosi proposed the No Ban Act, which would be a congressional limitation on what President Trump [was] actually able to do with that travel restriction,” he said, about the 5-minute mark.
At another point, Crenshaw described Pelosi’s response after Feb. 24, when the Trump administration requested $2.5 billion in supplemental funding from Congress for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration for coronavirus-related spending.
“What happened right then?” Crenshaw said. “I’ll tell you, because I was in Congress and I know what happened. Did we vote on a supplemental funding bill? No. Did we wait days to vote? No, still didn’t vote on it.
“You know what we voted on later that week? Nancy Pelosi, the only thing she would put on the floor to vote on was a bill to ban flavored tobacco. That’s what actually happened. It was only a week later that we voted on supplemental funding that the administration requested.”
As an example of Democratic fecklessness during the Peloso reign of error, that ban on flavored tobacco vote in the face of a pandemic was about perfect: an overreaching, autocratic and essentially pointless act that ignores the basic purpose of government, which is to ensure the public’s safety.
When Maher tried another line of attack, citing long lines for voting in Houston during Super Tuesday’s primary election March 3 as evidence that Republicans somehow want to discourage Americans from participation in elections, Crenshaw cut him flat by pointing out that Houston is run by Democrats and any problems with elections there should be placed at the Democrats’ door.
He then outlined problems with the latest Democratic fetish of mail-in voting that left the HBO host essentially speechless. In a nutshell, Crenshaw said the system would be too prone to error, without even counting the massive possibility of fraud involved.
One thing that was clear throughout the segment was that Maher — one of the brightest, most articulate spokesman on the liberal end of the spectrum — is in deep trouble when he’s matched with an equally bright, equally articulate spokesman for the conservative cause.
Without the trained seals of a studio audience backing him up, his schtick fell flat.
Crenshaw, on the other hand, earned plenty of plaudits on social media.
Brilliant!!! Maher knew he lost the argument so he then becomes condescending at the end with the “you should know better”. In other words trying the old “I’m smarter than you” attitude. One of the best take downs of Maher!!!
— Millychesterton (@Theresa68351492) April 19, 2020
@billmaher’s entire strategy was “look up a quote that Trump said and hope the other guy is less prepared.” Notice how he kept going back to “but he had a hunch” when Crenshaw kept going back to actions.
— Michael (@MikeDeCSSL) April 19, 2020
But this one nailed it.
Everybody’s so addicted to performative snark and tribalized histrionics. To actually see a man of honor and intellect who can lead with clear vision and uncomprimised ethics is almost surreal. People like him give me hope for the further trials to come with this new decade.
— Benin Templar (@PatrickSalaman2) April 19, 2020
Even liberals can’t deny that in the overheated atmosphere of contemporary politics, Dan Crenshaw is a breath of fresh air.
He’s battle-tested – literally. He’s knowledgeable, and as that conversation with Maher showed, he shows every sign of being more interested in getting to the truth of the argument than simply winning it.
Maher and other liberals should take a lesson.
The roar from the liberal, home-team crowd isn’t always going to be there. And the simpering approval of the mainstream media is losing its power with the American public.
And in a one-on-one debate with an informed opponent, Maher was outnumbered — badly.
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