The White House is still embracing controversial comedian Bill Maher, despite growing pressure to sever ties with the woman-insulting liberal TV host.
President Barack Obama’s chief political adviser, David Axelrod, is still booked to appear on Maher’s cable show in the next few weeks.
White House spokesman Jay Carney waved away growing criticism today, saying “we cannot be the arbitrator of every statement that anybody makes in the policy and political arenas.”
Carney’s equivocation came after he was was asked about the administration’s continued affiliation with Maher, despite the president’s front-page criticism of radio talker Rush Limbaugh for his sex-related insults of a Democratic activist.
The Democrats’ pushback against Limbaugh is designed to spur women’s support for Obama in November.
In contrast to Obama, Carney and Axelrod, Democrats in Alabama are downplaying a planned fundraiser that was scheduled to take place just prior to a Maher comedy show in Huntsville on March 17.
Alabama party officials had planned to sell fifty $100 tickets for a party event, after which the party members were scheduled to attend Maher’s show. Once The Daily Caller exposed the event, however, state party members took the invitation off their website.
The Maher uproar began after Obama and his political and media allies criticized Limbaugh for describing a Democratic activist as a “slut” and “prostitute.”
Limbaugh’s insult came after the activist had urged Democrats to force religious communities to provide her and other women with free birth control services worth roughly $1,000 a year.
Under pressure from some Republicans and many Democrats — and some advertisers — Limbaugh apologized for his comments on Mar. 3.
The PR campaign against Limbaugh is partly intended to shift the public’s focus from Obama’s controversial Feb. 10 regulation that would force religious communities to provide free birth control services to employees of their affiliated universities, schools, hospitals and charities.
Obama’s unprecedented regulation of churches is expected to damage his support in religious communities, especially among Catholics in crucial midwest states.
In contrast to Limbaugh’s crude intervention in a political controversy, Maher, a California progressive, has publicly insulted Gov. Sarah Palin as a “c*nt” and a “dumb twat.”
Democrats, including Axelrod, claim Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP, but Maher has donated $1 million to a super PAC supporting Obama’s election campaign.
On March 6, Palin used twitter to urge Obama to back up his calls for civility by returning Maher’s $1 million donation. “Why doesn’t his super PAC return the $1 million that he got from a rabid misogynist?” she asked.
Since then, other Democrats, such as former White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, have criticized Maher’s comments.
“As a general matter, obviously language that denigrates women is inappropriate,” Carney said today, without criticizing Maher or other liberal commentators who have insulted women.
Obama “chooses to, in the pursuit of a more civil discourse in our public space he chooses to try to practice that civility by himself and he calls on everyone to do just that,” said Carney.
However, Obama declined to criticize Maher during a Mar. 6 White House press conference when TheDC asked about the TV comedian’s comments.
After calling for civility during the Mar. 8 press conference, Carney also accused GOP leaders of being irresponsible for trying to fast-track a law that would allow construction of a new oil pipeline, and suggested that unnamed Republicans are urging war against Iran.
In Alabama, Yolanda McLain, who has helped organize the March 17 fundraiser, said Maher has no contractual connection to the event.
“He is performing in Huntsville … as well as other cities across the country … [and] has no connection to the pre-show [fundraising] party,” she told TheDC.
The state Democratic party’s decision to downplay the event stands in contrast to the White House’s support for Maher, and to periodic insults of Alabama by top administration officials.
For example, Tom Perez, the Justice Department’s civil-regulation chief, has portrayed Alabama as racist because of its successful 2011 immigration reform law. The state is the former home of Theophilus “Bull” Connor, who was a noted racist and a leader in the Democratic Party.