It was the last Real Time before a five-week break, and luckily for Bill Maher, he had one last show to discuss the hottest topic of the moment, the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
As much as the country was trying today to make sense of how the new order will affect life in these United States, so Maher and his guests struggled to understand the how and why of it.
Maher began by referencing another recent Supeme Court ruling on carrying guns. “Welcome to right wing America, where if you want to end a young life, you have to shoot them,” he said, ruefully.
We are now in a very different America, Maher noted. It’s one where if you ask a drug dealer if they are holding, “It’s about the Morning After pill.” The scariest part of this, Maher said, was the portion of Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion that indicated the Roe v. Wade ruling may have broader applications to other state’s rights issues like gay marriage and birth control. “Everything but interracial marriage,” Maher joked.
The US now will have essentially the same situation with abortion that it has with marijuana, where the drug is legal in some states and not others. “Be careful where you get stoned and where you get boned,” Maher said.
Guest Christine Emba, columnist for the Washington Post and author of Rethinking Sex: A Provocation, allowed that today’s Supreme Court ruling won’t change lives, as women living urban centers will likely always be able to get an abortion, “especially if it’s done by a pill.”
Emba and Maher both lamented how technology is creating a gulf between the sexes. The author said the feminist movement has changed from wanting to be equal to men, but seen as women. “But in the moden movements, it seems like we’ve defined everything down. Now women have to become the worse kind of man. I don’t think that’s better for women.”
Maher’s panel discussion featured Andrew Sullivan, blogger of The Weekly Dish on Substack and author of Out on a Limb: Selected Writing, 1989-2021, and Katie Herzog, cohost of the podcast Blocked and Reported.
In their discussion, Maher said the right played the long game. “It was always about the Supreme Court.”
Sullivan disagreed, saying it was happenstance. If Hillary Clinton had won, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg had resigned and allowed a Democrat to appoint a judge – “It was luck, to some extent. This is about Trump adding three people.” .
Now, “We’re basically living in two different countries. So what do we do? America can’t do that,” Maher said. Again, Sullivan disagreed, pointing out that Alabama and Oregon always had differences. “It doesn’t have to be one consistent national opinion,” he said.
Herzog blamed the lack of a center in politics. “The pendulum swingins further and further to the left and right,” she said. “There’s no center..”
Sullivan pointed out that “The country is not in favor of banning all abortion.” He asked for those opposed to today’s ruling to Go out and persuade people. Make the argument, build the coalitions, win the elections, and get pro-choice back.
He added, “Make sure these women will have access. There are things you can do.” He noted, “We need someone who can find the center. BIden isn’t that person.” He added later that current politics “feels like a toxic marriage, where people are now doing things for spite.”
Concluding his night with his “New Rules” editorial, Maher pointed out the need for a good advocate for the issues that matter to people, likening it to having a good lawyer.
The reason the Republicans won in a formely Blue Texas County, the reason Latino voters are rejecting the term “Latinx,” the reason Asian Americans are dropping their support for Democats, is that they view the Democrats as being the lawyer for the other side, not their issues.
Democrats now face a choice – they can seek to redress the past, or they can become the advocate for what people in this time frame want from their lawyer.
Maher brought it around to the abortion issue. “When the woke-y end of the progressivs talk about abortion,” they are talking in a language about “birthing people” and “people who menstruate,” instead of the first word most human animals undestand: “Mama.”
“But you’re supposed to be my lawyers,” say the masses. Maher said the Dems “need to be like lawyers on billboards. They are about winning. You know, what I want Dems to do – win.”