Increasing numbers of voters are getting their news and commentary from late-night television and cable talk shows. Bill Maher has one such show on HBO, "Real Time with Bill Maher."
He joined MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to talk about Rathergate, the current campaign, and whether or not America is a safer place without Saddam Hussein.
Below is an excerpt of the interview:
Is it time for Rather to say goodbye?
Bill Maher: You know, what's going to do when he's 85? He's going to be interviewing starlets on “Access Hollywood”? That hardly seems the place to put him out to pasture.
I think what's interesting about that story is that, one, people say it's the “liberal media” and I always say the media is not liberal, they are lazy and often stupid and this is an example of that. I don't think they made this mistake because they were so anxious to get John Kerry elected that they just couldn't stop themselves. I just think they were just incompetent.
Also, I noticed that nobody from the Bush camp is really saying that the factual reporting of the document is wrong. The typing is off and we do know that they're forgeries, but what's seemed a shame is that the message in there, which is essentially true, gets lost in the story about whether Dan Rather should stay or go.
On candidates’ pasts
Maher: I don't think this should be an issue— whether George Bush was or wasn't in Alabama. What's obvious to me is that there was a pattern in his young life. He was a rich kid who was used to privilege.
That old lady that Dan Rather had on to explain it, that 86-year-old woman who was the secretary back there, she had it right, you know. She said he was a polite young man. I thought, “Gosh, he must have very nice parents, but he did think he was above the rules.” And it makes sense to me that a guy who could pull strings to get into the Guard to begin with could also be a guy who didn't have to show up for the Guard all the time, a guy who when he was on the Tim Russert, was asked “You left early to go to business school.” And Bush said, “Yeah, we arranged it with the military.” Case closed.
On the Kerry campaign
Maher: It’s looking more to me like the Al Gore campaign in 2000. Maybe Kerry is coming out of it now. The reason why it looked like Gore and Dukakis' campaigns is because he refused so far to differentiate himself enough from the candidate. And I don’t understand using that playbook, that the Democrats seem to be so cowed by the personal popularity of a guy like George Bush that they say to themselves, “You know what, I will just stick as close as I can to this guy, and, at the end of the day, people will get in the voting booth and they will figure, you know what, they are about the same on the issues, but John Kerry is a lot smarter and he went to Vietnam, so I will vote for him.”
That ain’t going to work. John Kerry made a good speech yesterday, he started to differentiate himself.
On Saddam Huseein
Maher: It’s a little late in the game, but I think Kerry should go further [in his speeches]. I think he should stop saying, “The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein." You know what? Iraq down the road might be a better place without Saddam Hussein. But the world, and especially America, would be better with Saddam Hussein. That’s right, with him.”
During the Cold War, by not toppling so many dictators— and by supporting so many dictators, we never had to make that argument. We never said, “The world would be a better place without Marcos in the Philippines” or Mobutu in Zaire, or any number of dictators we supported. We just said, “You know what, the world is a tough place, and we have to sometimes support bad people to be a bulwark against even worse people.”
And that’s what we would have if Saddam was still in Iraq: We would have $200 billion more in our bank, in our coffers for America. We would not have the world hating us. We would not have the entire Arab world out for jihad because we have invaded the heart of the Muslim world. And we would have a guy in Iraq, by the way, who would never, ever have allowed a terrorist bastion in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein didn’t care about jihad and Allah and all that stuff. He cared about power and keeping his power. He would have made sure Iraq was his and not the province of these guys who are cutting off people’s heads. He was the head-cutter in that country.