Daddy issues were front and center on tonight’s edition of Real Time with Bill Maher as HBO’s Friday night franchise celebrated Father’s Day weekend by mocking the nation’s presidential papa as the antithesis of patriarchal integrity and parental responsibility. “Republicans really see Trump as a father figure,” Maher said with tongue firmly in cheek. “A strong-but-quiet, strict-but-fair man…who gets up in the morning, puts on two pounds of concealer, inflates his hair, and spends the day tweeting like a mean girl. Atticus Finch? Meet Fatticus Bitch.”
If that wasn’t enough birdshot to kill a mockingbird, Maher fired off a few more Elmer Fudd-like salvos in the direction of the West Wing. On the Trump’s failure to address a national infrastructure that’s falling into disrepair, for instance, the comedian asked: “What kind of dad dosen’t take care of simple repairs? You know you’re president who’s let the place go when your wife has had more work done than roads and bridges.”
It was a strong night for Maher’s comedic cage-match, which is a show that soars, sinks, or stinks depending on its guest list. Tonight the guest list was a good one and the result was one of the best wire-to-wire episodes of this 17th season. Comedian Martin Short, conservative columnist George Will, and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, didn’t share much common ground with their respective contributions to the dishy discourse but each of them brought out the best in Maher, a host whose comedy can sink into low blood-sugar mode when he doesn’t have proper company.
Feckless Democrats and faithless Republicans were the topic focus for much of the show and, really, those are mighty big fish in junior-sized barrel at this moment in American history. And, showing fairness to fish and fowl, Maher gleefully unloaded in that direction as well.
On Democrats returning donations from compromised figures: “The Republicans take everybody’s money. Steve Wynn was found out, he got ‘Me Too’-ed? ‘Hey we’re keeping the money.’ Harvey Weinstein, [the Dems] eve the money back. Why? His money didn’t rape anybody.”
On Democrats losing the fundraising fight: “The DNC took in $19 million so far this year. The RNC? $61 [million]. Trump has raised $30 million in the first quarter way before than any of the Democrats. This is anther way they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot.”
On MAGA-man Kanye West : “Of course he loves Trump. He’s a sucker for a giant ass.”
On Trump alienating neighboring nations: “Canada and Mexico, we used to get along great with them . Now they bring the kids inside when they see us coming.”
On the GOP’s neglect of its traditional sense of responsibility: “Let’s use Fathers Day to ask Republicans how they went from the ‘Daddy Party’ to the ‘Deadbeat Dad Party.'”
On the Florida man seeking a world record for multiple viewings of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame: “I do have a spoiler alert for you. You die alone.”
Bari Weiss of the New York Times Opinions staff didn’t have as many punchlines (although her delayed zinger about Short’s high-quality hairpiece was top-shelf stuff) but she did weigh in with one of the more trenchant insights regarding the persistent inability of Democrats to provide a competing vision that goes much beyond the reactive politics of outrage.
Weiss said Trump and his European ideological counterparts rush in where angelic liberals fear to tread: “[They are] stepping into that vacuum offering very crude and cruel solutions and the problem is too many progressives are scared to touch the issues that he touches. They’re scared to touch immigration, they’re scared to touch borders, they’re afraid to touch patriotism or anything that will give them a whiff of xenophobia and bigotry and all the rest of the things they’re terrified of being accused of. They need to come up with sensible answers to those things and when we see people that are doing that I think those are people that can ultimately win the day. But if the progressives avoid it, people like Trump are going to continue to win.”