Monday, May 02, 2005


A real tale of Two Conservatives

Only a few days ago, I commented on a discussion by Andrew Sullivan and Jonah Goldberg regarding Sullivan's contention that there were only two types of conservatives. As a spin-off of that discussion, I write today about two "conservatives" who appeared recently on separate editions of Bill Maher's "Real Time" on HBO. (Many of my Christian friends ask how I can stand to watch Maher, who is nothing more than a bad comic and anti-religious bigot. I answer that it is the laughable material used on the show. No, I'm not talking about Maher's jokes. His contrarian political views are much more humorous than his comedic material.)

A week ago, Maher hosted the first in a line of "conservative shows" that were to highlight conservatives and were to attract a live conservative audience. So, what conservatives were lucky enough to make the first show and satisfy the one - I kid you not - member of the studio audience that was a conservative? Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Jane Fonda. Maureen Dowd (at least, I think that is who was behind that nose). Add Maher and you have four liberals against two conservatives - Former Senator Alan Simpson and former Congressman (currently exiled to MSNBC as a talk show host) Joe Scarborough. So, it's 4 against 2, right? Wrong. Try 5 against 1. Simpson, who I wish was still serving in the Senate so that he could whip some of these RINO senators into shape, was true to his beliefs and convictions. Joe Scarborough, on the other hand, was anything but conservative. I don't know if it was the audience being made up of liberals (save one) or if big bad Bill Maher intimidated poor Joe. Perhaps being on MSNBC has corrupted Joe's soul, or his guilt over his adultery has broken down his principles to a state of moral relativism. In any case, Joe warmed up up to Maher by bashing Christians (calling them hypocrites and bigots, while referring to legislators that oppose gay marriage as "bashing gays"), belittling social security reform, and sided with RFK, Jr. by blaming corporate manufacturers for our dependence on foreign oil (which was probably a self-serving belief, given that Scarborough is still dabbling in environmental law and such an accusation might be seen as showing support for a client). Scarborough had a distinguished career in the House as part of the "Republican Revolution" of 1994 and has tried to paint himself as "the conservative voice" of MSNBC. I guess one can do that when no one is watching.

The most recent episode of "Real Time" was also supposed to have been a "conservative show," which, of course, it was not. I'm not sure how Maher or his producers could even claim such with a straight face when Canadian-born liberal and John Kerry supporter Martin Short was a panelist. (Just a comment - Short the real person makes the characters Short has played through the year look much more appealing - even Frank Eggelhoffer from "Father of the Bride.") In fact, only one conservative managed to make it - Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. However, the disparity actually helped Steele because he got to steal (no pun intended) the show. He showed the conservative reasoning, oratory skills, and "John Wayne guts" that one needs for the national stage. He had no problem with interrupting Maher (and it's about time, too, since Maher has a bad case of Bill O'Reilly in that department), and his arguments made the smug Short eventually result to short little quips, retreating from true political debate and hiding behind baseless humor and impressions. Steele is one to watch on the national stage in the future. I was first impressed with him at the Republican National Convention in NYC, where he gave a short address. I am even more impressed with him now (and I'm not the only one). He is the first African-American elected to statewide office in Maryland. I hope that he isn't satisfied with that great accomplishment (and it appears he is not).

It's the tale of two conservatives - one a has-been who has abandoned his conservative beliefs, and another a rising star in the conservative universe.

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