Bill Maher’s woke-up call: Liberal nuttiness is off the rails (and ultimately boring)

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Liberals are becoming way too snide.

Liberals are paralyzed by woke culture.

Liberals keep sounding apocalyptic alarms about the dreadful state of society when things have actually gotten much better.

Those aren’t my words, though much of it boils down to common sense. It’s what some leading left-wingers are saying these days.

And it’s an important conversation. Since the left-leaning media are heavily focused on the fringes of conservatism, especially in this conspiratorial age, the outrages and excesses of their own side often go overlooked.

That’s why it draws outsized attention when someone like Jon Stewart, the left’s favorite comedian, implicitly rebukes his ideological brethren by proclaiming that, of course, the Wuhan lab-leak theory is not looney tunes but likely.

The latest blast from the late-night world comes from Bill Maher. The HBO host went off on liberal nuttiness, as he is increasingly wont to do. That doesn’t mean that Maher, who at times is a big-time Democratic donor, doesn’t still rip Republicans to shreds. But he is intellectually honest enough to be repelled by idiocy on the left.

“His audience laughed uncertainly,” Peggy Noonan said in her Wall Street Journal column. “You could tell they didn’t want to get caught laughing at the wrong thing and weren’t certain what the wrong thing was. Normally they’re asked to laugh at right-wing idiocy, which is never in short supply.”

Seizing on the term “progressophobia,” Maher called it “a brain disorder that strikes liberals and makes them incapable of recognizing progress. It’s like situational blindness, only what you can’t see is that your dorm in 2021 is better than the South before the Civil War.”

The “Real Time” audience was treated to quite a litany.   

“The chant from gay protesters used to be, ‘We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.’ Well, we did. This is Pride Month, and it’s not even a big deal anymore.”

America is more racist? A few decades ago, interracial marriage was illegal in this country. Yet “an overwhelming majority of Americans now say they want to live in a multiracial neighborhood.”

And: “Not too long ago, I knew people who went to prison for growing pot,” while now numerous states are legalizing it.

He quoted actor Kevin Hart as saying “you’re witnessing White power and White privilege at an all-time high.” Maher mocked “wokeness” as a philosophy in which “what you say doesn’t have to make sense.”

Maher is not a newcomer to spoiling the appetites of latte liberals. He’s beaten up on cancel culture and the media’s COVID-19 coverage. All of which makes him…interesting.

My favorite commentators and columnists, on the left and the right, are those who don’t toe a party line. Even if they only rarely aim their ammunition in unexpected directions, it can land with explosive force.

Frank Bruni gave up his New York Times column last week after a decade as a doggedly liberal op-ed voice. He’s smart, a good writer and utterly predictable: Trump is horrible, Republicans suck, and so on.

But I liked his farewell piece because he called himself out.

He starts off with an apology to Ted Cruz for comparing him to a horror-movie figure: “I just swam with the snide tide.”

And Bruni kept penning such attacks, in part, because bashing conservatives was his brand, which got him clicks, speech invitations and TV bookings.

Still, “I worried, and continue to worry, about the degree to which I and other journalists — opinion writers, especially — have contributed to the dynamics we decry: the toxic tenor of American discourse, the furious pitch of American politics, the volume and vitriol of it all.. we may be encouraging arrogance and unyieldingness in our readers, viewers and listeners.”

So true! But here’s my problem: Did it really take 10 years for Bruni to figure this out? Why make these admissions only after giving up the precious real estate, when it’s too late to do anything about it? It’s like politicians who leave office and suddenly tell hard truths—how about doing that when you had some power, pal? 

Bruni now regrets writing that many people, especially over 50, “cannot bear the likes of me,” a gay man. He “almost” doesn’t regret all his denunciations of Donald Trump, but admits that he and other critics “sank toward Trump’s level, and he cited that descent as validation of his hostility.”

Partisan brutality sells well but is ultimately an echo chamber. It’s nice when pundits and even comedians show enough independence to break through the static.

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