Bill Maher and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell went to great lengths on Friday's "Real Time" to disparage the Tea Party.
One proud member, National Review's Reihan Salam, admirably put them both in their place for doing so (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MARGARET HOOVER, FOX: Americans have to stand together against bullying of gay kids. It should not be a partisan issue, Bill.
BILL MAHER, HOST: What party do you think this man is a part of?
HOOVER: It doesn't say, Bill. Do you think it's political? Why do you think he’s political? Why are you so sure?
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC: Which party runs on homophobia and which party runs on gay rights? It’s very clear.
REIHAN SALAM, NATIONAL REVIEW: Here’s what I want to, in 1990, a very tiny number of Americans wanted gay marriage. Now it’s over half. It’s a moving target, it’s changing and the country is changing. And I think we should all celebrate that, but you're trying to divide us. You're trying to claim that the half of the country…
MAHER: I'm trying?
SALAM: …roughly, yes, absolutely, half of the country that’s conservative you're saying that we are all bigots and homophobes and we stomp on people's heads.
MAHER: I'm not saying you’re all. I’m just saying that when someone is that, they're on your team.
SALAM: Okay, well, that’s…
MAHER: Tom Tancredo…
HOOVER: Who’s not even a Republican, by the way. He’s not even a Republican.
MAHER: A teabagger who was a Republican.
SALAM: By the way, keep changing the subject from the economy and jobs to this. Keep doing it and see how that works out. Right on. Go team. Please.
MAHER: Tom Tancredo is running for governor in Colorado. He was a Republican.
HOOVER: Yeah, but he’s not a Republican anymore so you can’t say…
MAHER: He’s a teabagger, that’s the same thing. He said the President of the United States Barack Obama is a greater threat to our country than al Qaeda. Is that a patriotic thing to do?
SALAM: First of all, that’s obviously absurd. But number two, you’re talking about “teabaggers,” and here’s the thing about “teabaggers.”
HOOVER: Thank you.
SALAM: They don't talk about immigration and they don’t talk about abortion and social issues as a general rule. They talk about debt, taxes…
O’DONNELL: Yes, they do, they talk about all of these things.
SALAM: They talk about debt and taxes. You guys will label anyone you don’t like a Tea Partier.
O’DONNELL: Sharron Angle is a Tea Partier running on anti-immigration.
SALAM: You turn Tea Partier into a term of abuse. But actually, it was a movement about bailouts and deficits.
O’DONNELL: There is about 50 different ones, and on my show last night…
SALAM: And you’re choosing to talk about one of them.
O’DONNELL: I had four different leaders of four different tea parties. They're all nuts. They don't know what they're talking about.
[Cheers and applause]
SALAM: As a Tea Partier, I will happily talk about the issues with you. We'll go down the line and we'll see who knows what they're talking about, Lawrence. I have a lot of respect for you, but I think you’re being a little unfair.
O’DONNELL: I want you to be on my show next time to talk about it because the people who are the leaders of these Tea Parties do not know what they're talking about.
SALAM: It’s not a movement with a leader, Lawrence, that’s why it scares people. It’s not a movement with leaders.
MAHER: Do you condemn someone who says the President of the United States is more of a threat to the country than al Qaeda?
MAHER: Thank you. Alright, let me ask this question. They used to say a definition of a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged, right?
HOOVER: No, it's the other way around.
MAHER: The definition of a conservative is a liberal that got mugged. A liberal gets mugged they become a conservative. What's the definition of teabagger who just lost his health care?
O’DONNELL: Or a teabagger who's turning 65 and is being handed a Medicare card. Why don’t they burn them? You know, when you were a kid, Bill, people would burn their draft card. You know, people who didn't want to go to war, who were opposed to the military action in Vietnam, would burn their draft cards.
SALAM: Holy cow.
O’DONNELL: I want to see someone in the Tea Party burn their Medicare card. Please, just one. Burn one.
SALAM: And then it's going to be on a constant loop on MSNBC for, I imagine you’d be very enthusiastic to see that.
What a pathetic analogy. People burning their draft cards didn't want to go to fight and possibly die in a war they opposed.
Medicare is a program people are forced to pay into. As it's against the law to not contribute when you are working, why should people opt out of receiving benefits if they don't ideologically support the program?
That someone receiving Medicare benefits is either opposed to the concept in principle or believes it desperately needs to be reformed for its financial future is by no means hypocritical.
If you as a government are going to force people to contribute to something against their will, you shouldn't expect them not to accept benefits.
Sadly, Maher, O'Donnell and their ilk fail to understand such logic and instead choose to mock Americans that are either protesting the legality of the system or its tenuous financial condition.
If the Left really wants those opposed to the program to not receive benefits from it, then they should endorse reform that allows people to opt out of contributions.
Obviously, Maher, O'Donnell and their ilk would never go for that.