It’s likely no surprise that HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher views President Barack Obama favorably, but he still has a few criticisms.
In an appearance on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” on Monday, Maher was asked by host Piers Morgan to evaluate Obama’s presidency. He gave the 44th president a positive review, saying Obama is an improvement after the George W. Bush presidency.
“You know I love him,” Maher said. “You know you can’t not. I mean coming in after Bush, first of all, you have him there, you have a guy you can relate to. He’s intelligent, he can speak English. I don’t think about George Bush at all anymore, which is great. He’s like an uncle who molested me and I blocked it out. You know? And you could just tell, you know, you’d like to have dinner with Obama. He’s an erudite guy, he’s a constitutional law professor.”
However, Maher had some critiques for Obama’s policies, particularly with his stances on the federal deficit.
“He’s just terribly disappointing as a negotiator and as a liberal,” Maher said. “You know it makes me laugh when they say he’s a socialist. He’s not even a liberal. He’s a centrist at best. He’s constantly voicing the Republican opinion. Paul Krugman had a column about this the other day. He said why is Obama carrying water for the Republicans Party? Why if they’re having this giant discussion about the debt and the deficit, why is Obama saying the stupid things that they say? ‘We have to treat our government like a family does.’ Well, that’s stupid. You don’t treat — a family doesn’t run up a deficit whereas we know a certain deficit is good for a government. The silliness canard about how we’re — we have to like be super kind to the rich because they’re the job creators, which is BS also. And that sometimes you have to, even when you have a debt, spend more money so — to get the economy going again.”
Morgan asked Maher to contrast Obama’s decision-making on the economy to his decisiveness in authorizing a raid into Pakistan to take out al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. According to Maher, that’s not much of a comparison:
MORGAN: But what — I mean I agree that on one level, the criticism that seems most accurate to me is that he can be diffident in decision-making. And that hasn’t probably helped America get out of this economic strife. But then just when you think that he’s diffident, he comes out with that stunning strike with the Navy SEALs against bin Laden, which had it gone wrong —
MAHER: That’s the low-hanging fruit.
MORGAN: Is it, though?
MAHER: Absolutely. It doesn’t cost anything. Everyone wanted to see it done.
MORGAN: But if you went wrong —
MAHER: Yes. Yes.
MORGAN: And a bunch of American SEALs has got killed. That could have cost him the election.
MAHER: No. He’s got a pair on him. Obama.
MORGAN: That was audacious.
MAHER: But, you know, the editorial we did recently that got the most reaction I think was when I said it would be a shame if four years of Democratic rule came to an end in 2012 without trying Democratic policies. And that’s the problem I think all progressives have.
As for the debt and the deficit, the “Real Time” host accused Obama of letting his political adversaries frame the debate.
“Well, stop talking about — stop talking about the debt and the deficit. You know when Dick Cheney was in office and they were running up all the debt, and by the way you can look this up,” Maher said. “There are facts outside of the Fox News bubble, actual facts and numbers. Most of the debt was run up under Bush. Dick Cheney said, quote, ‘deficits don’t matter.’”
Maher suggested that race might be somewhat at play in this situation.
“Why can’t Obama say that? Why is it OK when Dick Cheney says it but not when President Black Man says it?” he said. “I’m not saying it’s all race, but it seems a little weird that suddenly he gets into office and the debt and the deficit is intolerable. I mean the Republicans have some nerve. Bush came into office. The debt was $5.6 trillion. He took a surplus and turned it into a $10 trillion debt, almost doubled it, with stuff they didn’t pay for. They didn’t pay for the wars. They didn’t pay for the tax cuts for the rich, which should be called tax spending for the rich, because it is spending. The prescription drug program, all of that unpaid for. And then suddenly Obama comes into office and they act like he’s Newt Gingrich’s wife at Tiffany’s. He didn’t spend — what — his big spending, the stimulus, was mostly a Republican spending plan.”