Bill Maher's sad pedestal

Bill Maher’s sad pedestal.
I watched Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night, because I wanted to hear what Andrew Sullivan had to say. I wish I’d watched Joan of Arcadia instead. Maher likes to piss people off, and that’s okay, but he gives liberalism a bad name. How? By attempting to be the Rush Limbaugh of the left. Bill, it doesn’t work.

One of the things I had to endure Friday night was his rant against the south, published here as a Salon commentary. (full disclosure: I’ve lived in the south for 25 years) “Lose the twang, y’all,” it’s called — a commentary on how the south needs to accept a candidate from the north in order to defeat the President.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has a powerful argument in his bid to be the Democratic nominee when he says, “What I give people is a candidate who can win everywhere in America.”

Translation: “We Southerners ain’t gonna vote for no Yankee! You suckers up North will take our Clintons and Carters, but we just ain’t buyin’ Kerrys and Deans.”

And that’s a shame. Not just for Democrats but for democracy itself. And I feel bad for the millions of intelligent people who live in a region still dominated by so much prejudice that anyone who wants to be president better have a twang in his voice and pronounce all four E’s in the word “shit.”

Pretty funny stuff, Bill, but how does embracing stereotypes help the argument about not embracing stereotypes? It doesn’t, and telling people that if they want to stop being thought of as inferior, they need to stop acting like they’re inferior is so insulting that it doesn’t deserve a response.

Liberal talk radio will never work if it can’t drop such elitist pronouncements. Talking down to people to get a laugh is one thing, especially if you’re in the safety of your echo chamber, but doing so to make a political point does everybody associated with liberal thinking a gross disservice.

And his argument itself is one of those that stop at the 3rd floor without continuing the intellectual journey. Geography has nothing to do with it, Bill. There are legitimate value differences. Show me a “northern” candidate whose voice resonates with “down here” values, and I’ll show you somebody for whom southern Democrats will vote.

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