Ever the political genius, Bill Maher has predicted that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election with his response to President Obama’s response to the Cairo Embassy attacks last week. Maher compared Romney’s response to the president as being the same as John McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign in 2008 when faced with a financial crisis. Maher said McCain made Obama look “cooler and smarter,” and essentially won the court of public opinion with his decision. Maher believes Romney has done this same basic thing.
Aside from giving the American voter too much credit, Maher is making his own political overstatement here. While he is certainly free to voice his own commentary about what he believes will win or lose the election for either candidate, he also makes it no secret that he is, through and through, an Obama supporter. Maher is no different from any other Obama supporter in this regard: his “opinions” are really nothing more than “wish projections.” Maher may actually believe he is being objective in his predictions, but his Obama bias is showing nevertheless. Maher wants the rest of us to believe that there are a whole heap of “undecided voters” out there that have just fallen to the Obama side of the fence because of what Romney has said regarding attacks on the US Embassy. Either Maher is delusional, or he believes his audience is.
The primary problem with political punditry is that it is constantly masquerading as “authoritative” even though it changes day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. We have become so saturated with talking heads talking about other talking heads that we have begun to accept opinion as fact, and fact as political ammunition. In reality, fact matters little in our modern age of opinion generation. Like Maher, most of us have our minds made up already, thank you very much. We will listen to those who regurgitate opinions that sound much like our own and tune out those who say something different. Political commentators need to make it sound like the election is still undecided, but the truth is that the outcome of the election would be the same today as it will be in November, despite the ever-fluctuating polls. Very few American voters are “undecided” at this point; and even if they are, one political event will not make or break their decision, Bill Maher to the contrary.
I find it amazing that Maher even references the John McCain “campaign suspension” as a turning point in the 2008 election. I would be shocked if even 10% of those who voted in the 2008 election even remember this. Maher only remembers it because he has a staff of researchers to remember it for him. It hardly made Obama look “cooler and smarter,” unless, of course, you already thought Obama was “cooler and smarter” than McCain. It was not what lost the election for John McCain; John McCain did that all on his own. Joe Biden could have probably beat John McCain because Republican voters stayed home in droves.
As a political commentator, Bill Maher gets paid to run his mouth. He gets more money if he is polarizing, even more if he is controversial. While saying Romney lost the election due to his response last week is hardly controversial, it is polarizing. Rush Limbaugh can be expected to defend Romney’s actions and Bill Maher can be expected to criticize them. It all makes for great political theater. And in an age of televised everything, great political theater is getting harder and harder to come by. As long as Bill Maher is willing to wear the Obama jester hat, people will still tune in and listen to him make a political ass of himself.