Maher on CNN: Petraeus and Maliki ‘Stooges’ For President Bush

Bill Maher gave an unsatirizable interview on Tuesday evening’s "The Situation Room" on CNN, spending a large portion of his ten-minute interview attacking, among others, General David Petraeus, Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, labeling them "stooges" for President Bush. When host Wolf Blitzer asked about the recent congressional testimony of the general and the ambassador, Maher parroted the line. "Well, it was a White House-written report. We know that. Bush has an interesting little scam going. He also quoted in his speech on Thursday night, Maliki. And he said basically that the Iraqi leadership is asking us to stay. So, in other words, he puts words into his stooges' mouths, and then, he quotes them."

Video (1:17): Real (2.12 MB) or Windows (1.8 MB), plus MP3 (601 KB)

Maher appeared at the bottom of the 5 pm Eastern hour of "The Situation Room." Blitzer first asked the HBO host about the congressional Democrats’ lack of action on the Iraq war. "Is there more that they [the Democrats] could be doing? Should be doing?"

Maher’s answer:

Yeah, I guess there is. But, you know, what can you do with a situation where there's one man who stubbornly has the power and will not relinquish it? And he's such a liar, you know? I think that -- if he would just be straight with the American people, instead of saying things like, 'The people who are attacking us in Iraq are the same people who attacked us on 9/11.' What a blatant lie. Or, 'Every day, every month, since January, we've killed over 1,500 terrorists and other extremists.' Who is a terrorist? Who are extremists? Who are the enemy? What do these terms mean? Would they even be the enemy if we weren't in their country? Not to mention all the lies...

Blitzer then asked about General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.

BLITZER: You listen closely to General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Both are career professionals. A career military officer. A career diplomat. They made the case effectively for President Bush that the U.S. should continue this strategy.

MAHER: Wait a second. He put the words in their mouth. That wasn't the Petraeus Report.


BLITZER: They say those words were their own.

MAHER: Well, it was a White House-written report. We know that. Bush has an interesting little scam going. He also quoted in his speech on Thursday night, Maliki. And he said basically that the Iraqi leadership is asking us to stay. So, in other words, he puts words into his stooges' mouths, and then, he quotes them.


BLITZER: But let me point out. General Petraeus, who has been a military officer for more than 30 years, the first thing he basically said out of his mouth when he testified last week, is 'I didn't show this testimony to anyone. I wrote it myself. I didn't have it vetted by the chain of command. Not by the White House. Not by anyone at the Pentagon. Not by anyone in Congress.' Don't you believe him when he says that?

MAHER: No. I'm sorry, I don't. Because that report was -- I called it the 'Enron Surge Report,' because they manipulated the statistics the same way Enron did. It didn't count. Violence didn't count if it was a car bomb. It didn't count if it was Sunni-on-Sunni violence. It didn't count if you were shot in the back of the head, instead of the front of the head. I mean, that's utter nonsense. They manipulated that report. Every independent report that came out about the surge contradicted what David Petraeus said. It said that the violence has not gone down. It just moved to different areas. It was never a case, Wolf, that we were wondering whether if we put 20,000 or 30,000 more troops in a certain area, violence would go down. Of course, violence would go down in that area. But violence in the country didn't go down. And even Baghdad residents said, 'No, violence is as bad as it ever was.' Is there a reason why 93% of the Sunnis in that country think it's okay to attack Americans and want us dead? 50% of Shiites want it.

Blitzer should be given credit for pressing Maher on the question of Petraeus. After asking about the possibility of the Democrats cutting off funding for the Iraq war, Blitzer played a sound bite of Hillary Clinton’s answer from "American Morning," where she was asked about the "General Betray Us" ad by Blitzer asked Maher if he agreed with Clinton’s statement about General Petraeus, and pressed him again about his comments on the general.

BLITZER: So, you agree with her on that?

MAHER: Of course. I mean, look, the Republicans who attacked that ad -- it's very convenient -- it gave them something to divert from the issue, which is that the war is a total mess, and allowed them to excite their 'fake outrage' base once again. But basically, they did it on a big lie, as they usually do. Hillary, in the hearings, said the report, the Petraeus Report, required 'a willing suspension of disbelief.' She didn't attack him personally. And, of course, they turned around and said, 'How dare you attack him personally!' That's exactly the opposite of what she did. Hillary Clinton is a little too careful to attack a general personally.

BLITZER: Well, you (INAUDIBLE) that. You attacked him personally. You just did on our show. You said you don't believe him when he said he never cleared his testimony with anyone in Washington.

MAHER: Call me a cynic, Wolf. Look, I understand that he's doing an impossible job over there. And I have no doubt that he actually does more before 9 am than I do all day, or perhaps all year. Yes, I admire anybody who is in the war zone. But that doesn't mean that he is not performing a political function for the White House. Now, you can read into that what you will. But I'm sorry. Just because he's wearing a uniform, I can't not [sic] see what I see, which is that the man is doing a political job for George Bush.

In the last three minutes of the interview, Blitzer and Maher discussed if Barack Obama is ready to be president, who Maher liked amongst the Republicans (as might be expected, Maher said he supported Ron Paul), the Emmy Awards, the Larry Craig scandal, and the new criminal case against O.J. Simpson. Maher actually had some interesting things to say about Simpson.

BLITZER: What about O.J. Simpson? Do you think he could get a fair trial if this does go before a jury, given the notoriety?

MAHER: You know, that was very disappointing, Wolf. I mean, first, he kills his wife, and now, this. I beginning to think he's something of a scofflaw. But, you know, O.J. is someone who has certainly benefitted from not getting a fair trial.

BLITZER: But does he have a case when he says, 'You know, I just went into that room because that was all my stuff that had been stolen from me,' including some photos and sports memorabilia. Does he have a case when he says, 'I was just trying to retrieve stuff that had been taken illegally away from me'?

MAHER: I'm sure he does. But from what I hear, what I heard last night, at least, on Larry King, and now, on your show, is that he had a gun or somebody with him had a gun. You'd think a guy in his position with the baggage he brings, with the reputation he has, leave the gun at home, maybe. I mean, when you hear 'gun' and 'O.J.,' you know, the first thing you think is, 'Oh, couldn't find the knife, huh?'

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