Bill Maher Rips Stewart-Colbert Rally To Restore Sanity

Bill Maher eviscerated Jon Stewart and the Rally to Restore Sanity Friday night on “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

Bill Maher Rips Stewart-Colbert Rally To Restore Sanity

Last night Bill Maher, in the “New Rules” segment of his HBO show, ripped Jon Stewart and the Rally to Restore Sanity with a brutally incisive, logical argument that felt, at long last, like a restoration of sanity.

As refreshing as it was to see 250,000 progressives gather on Capitol Hill, there’s an inherent flaw to Stewart and Colbert’s “can’t we all just just get along” approach to sanity: It assumes that both the left and right wings are equidistant from some imaginary gravitational center of absolute reasonableness. As Maher says, it “pretend[s] that the insanity is equally distributed in both parties.”

This would be highly convenient—utopian, even—but it couldn’t be further from reality. In any dynamic relationship, compromise only works if both parties commit equally to finding common ground. Two sides working together to find middle ground is called a win-win. One side working to compromise while the second unctuously takes advantage of the other’s readiness to compromise is called delusion. It’s a lesson President Obama illustrated handily over the last two years, as every inch of compromise he offered found him yanked yet another foot from his goals.

Maher continued, “Republicans keep staking out a position that is further and further right, and then demand Democrats meet them in the middle, which is now not the middle anymore. That’s the reason health care reform is so watered down; it’s Bob Dole’s old plan from 1994. Same thing with cap-and-trade; it was the first President Bush’s plan to deal with carbon emissions. Now the Republican plan for climate change is to claim it’s a hoax.”

Sometimes to stand on the side of not arguing is simply to have nothing worth arguing for. If progressives had always felt this impulse to equivocate, we may never have had a civil war, but the compromise would have created a deeply compromised society and country.

This is why I can’t in good conscience join the Coffee Party movement—criticizing corporate interests is great, but there is even more worth standing up for. Allowing conservatives to characterize Muslims as terrorists just because you don’t want anyone at the debate table to be wrong is to condone bigotry, period. Though it’s encouraging to see a left-wing answer to the Tea Party, progressives need to start defining themselves based on what they believe are correct principles, rather than simply insisting on avoiding conflict at all costs.

Bill Maher for president, anyone?