As he discussed America’s tense political climate along with liberal TV host Bill Maher, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro scoffed at the idea that the Trump campaign injected incivility into political behavior.
The two appeared Friday night on Maher’s HBO “Real Time” program. Maher said President Donald Trump’s comments about a host of foes, from the media to James Comey have coarsened political dialog.
Shapiro, the editor of The Daily Wire, countered that liberals rant about bad behavior only “when it comes to Donald Trump.”
“This stuff pre-existed Donald Trump,” Shapiro argued.
“It came from the vice president when he was saying that Mitt Romney, the cleanest person ever, OK, was the guy who was gonna ‘put y’all back in chains,’” Shapiro said. Vice President Joe Biden made the comment during the 2012 campaign, as reported by CNN.
Shapiro then started to explain his point. “To pretend incivility started with Donald Trump …,” he began.
“I’m not talking about incivility,” Maher then interjected. “I’m talking about the level of which it’s at.”
Maher said anti-Hillary Clinton chanting at Trump rallies was a prime example of what’s wrong with politics.
“Well if you’re talking about the civility thing, why don’t we start with the Republicans stop saying ‘lock her up’?” Maher said. “Shouldn’t the civility argument start there before we care about who gets their entrée?”
Shapiro was ready with a response.
“Can’t we just say that incivility is bad across the board?” Shapiro said. “Why is that when you’re a Democrat you’re only opposed to incivility when it’s Donald Trump, but suddenly Maxine Waters is ‘Auntie Maxine.’”
Waters, a Democratic California congresswoman, has called for Americans to harass members of the Trump administration at every opportunity.
“Because Ben, you can’t walk into a room and see an elephant and a mouse and not see which one is bigger,” Maher said.
“But it’s not an elephant and a mouse — it’s two elephants,” Shapiro responded, reminding Maher that he has experienced leftist antagonism first-hand. “I needed 600 officers to protect me at Berkley. Yes it’s an elephant and an elephant.”
During their discussion, Maher asked if Shapiro would ever support a Democrat.
“I would say under some circumstance, but the Democratic Party would have to stop being insane. Meaning that they would actually have to approach something like moderation in terms of policy, and also present a face that doesn’t look like people shouting down people at gas stations or entering restaurants and trying to throw them out,” he said.
During the debate, Maher and Shapiro also sparred over possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Shapiro said Trump has been tougher on his alleged partner than former President Barack Obama.
“He’s been a lot harsher on Putin than Obama was by the way. Not in terms of his rhetoric, in terms of his actions. He’s armed the people of Ukraine with deadly weaponry, which Obama would not do. Two hundred Russian soldiers were killed in Syria by U.S. forces under Donald Trump, not under Barack Obama. … Crimea was annexed under Barack Obama,” he said.
Shapiro also said he didn’t believe Trump colluded with Russia.
“I don’t think that Donald Trump could collude with his own left foot,” Shapiro said.
“But I’m not going to contribute something to Trump when he’s too ignorant to have done it,” Shapiro later added, sparking a comeback from Maher.
“Well, he’s not too ignorant to be a criminal, Ben. He’s been a criminal his whole life,” Maher said.
However, Shapiro said Maher and liberals cannot have things both ways.
“I don’t know how I became the Trump defender here, but is he a doofus or an evil genius?” Shapiro said. “You gotta pick one.”
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