It's difficult to know when Bill Maher is serious or when he's merely being an instigator, but in an interview with The Hill, he dropped a stupid bomb that was, frankly, surprising to read, mainly because I thought he was smarter than this. While discussing the 2016 presidential election, Maher said he's not entirely thrilled with the idea of Hillary Clinton's presumptive candidacy, so he floated a possible second choice. Via JM Ashby:
“Rand Paul is an interesting candidate to me. Rand Paul could possibly get my vote,” the 58-year-old comedy veteran said of the Kentucky senator.
Maher commented on the son of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): “As I always used to say about his father, I love half of him. I love the half of him that has the guts to say we should end the American empire, pull the troops home, stop getting involved in every foreign entanglement… He’s way less of a hawk than Hillary, and that appeals to me a lot because I’m not crazy about how warlike she is.”
Sure, Maher has always leaned a little toward libertarianism when it comes to personal freedom. But Rand Paul? As we've covered here, how does Maher have any clue as to where Rand Paul stands on anything, when Rand Paul doesn't know where Rand Paul stands? Clearly he's been suckered like so many others -- not realizing that Paul is an empty suit, a pandering flip-flopper who contradicts his own statements, often within a single day. One day he's condemning airstrikes against ISIS, the next day he's talking about getting congressional authorization for a full declaration of war, the next day he's suggesting Turkey take the lead with the U.S. hanging back in support. Then he goes and accuses Obama of being indecisive. That's rich. And yeah, he's like this on an entire range of issues -- not just Iraq.
As Ashby pointed out, here's how not-hawkish Rand Paul really is. (For now. This could change at any moment.)
“I don’t think we really want a commander-in-chief who is battling climate change instead of terrorism.”
Broadly speaking, let's talk about voting for a candidate who you half-love and therefore half-hate. If this is how you're casting your votes, you're doing it wrong, because the things you explicitly hate are likely positions that fall well outside your personal values. In the case of Ron or Rand Paul, those other things might include legitimizing states' rights and nullification, or fetal personhood, or more Voter ID laws, or corporate deregulation. I certainly hope Maher loathes these positions held by Rand Paul.
The point is that thoughtful voters ought to support candidates whose positions are either in line with our values or generally close enough. Personally, I'd rather cast my vote for someone with whom I agree 90 percent of the time than 50 percent, especially knowing that much of the other 50 percent, in the case of Rand Paul, is utterly abhorrent to me -- the aforementioned nullificationist and fetal personhood positions to name two. The takeaway here is that Maher is rejecting Clinton solely for her alleged hawkishness, yet doesn't mind embracing the entire menu of awful things about Rand Paul including his neo-confederate views. His priorities seem more than a little out of whack, especially knowing that Obama, who received a million-dollar donation from Maher, isn't too far removed from Clinton on foreign policy (see "I'm not opposed to wars, just dumb wars.").
Ultimately, I expected Maher to be a little more savvy -- more of a grownup -- than to fall for the Rand Paul scam.