Miller and Maher: Libertarian, Liberal, or Lame?

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For years, folks have been speculating about whether Dennis Miller and Bill Maher are truly libertarians. A couple of newspaper articles surfacing on my browser today merely increased the level of confusion.

In a Miami New Times column, Joanne Green reported this of Maher:

The political satirist is most notable as the former outspoken host of the late-night talk show Politically Incorrect. But in June 2002, ABC network execs canned him after he made a controversial on-air remark in which he objected to the President’s claim that the September 11 terrorists were cowards. “We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2000 miles away. That’s cowardly,” Maher said. “Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”

Even with this firm foothold on solid libertarian ground, Maher stumbled quickly with:

“Bush is a liar,” Maher says. “If you do involve yourself in [politics] to a more detailed degree, you see there is a very big difference between this and the last administration.”

Come on, Bill. While Bush’s lies have certainly cost more lives, neither Bush nor Clinton are innocent of foreign adventurism — and clearly not of telling lies. Unless you happened to believe the old “I did not inhale” line.

Dennis Miller was on equally shakey ground with this interview blurb in in an OC Weekly article by Rebecca Schoenkopf:

But Dennis Miller, we left Afghanistan unfinished so we could go to Iraq, and instead of making us safer, we just pissed off a billion people. You’re smart enough to see that, aren’t you?

Nope. I do know people on the Left say I’m not smart enough.

Miller clearly showed some improvement with:

The controversial host has also criticized the Bush administration’s war on drugs and the more recent war on pornography. “We’ve got to go after people whacking at their computers?” Maher muses. “That we would go after people and throw them in jail for having sex just shows how shallow and unserious this administration is.”

Neither of them seem to be full blooded libertarians — yet. However, they both think outside of the two-party box, espouse many libertarian beliefs, and seem to be slowly moving in the libertarian direction. Still, when wishing for a libertarian message combined with a bit of wit, I’ll continue to stick with grand masters Trey Parker and Matt Stone, with Penn and Teller and Doug Stanhope tied for second in the Libertarian Celebrity Tell-It-Like-It-Really-Is Classic.

11 Comments
  1. I thought that Bill Maher was for a huge income tax hike – something like taxing the upper class 70% – 80%!?!

  2. Could be, but I’ve never heard of it. I didn’t find anything like that on a quick google search – please let me know if you find some source material on it.

  3. He was on Bill O’Reilley and he was saying that the wealthy should be taxed at 80% and Bill told him that if he himself wanted to pay the extra money, then nothing was stopping him and he would get him the forms to do so (which pretty much shut him up).

  4. Reading a little more from Maher, I would call him a liberal (or even a democratic socialist) and not a libertarian.

    Yes, he is for drug legalization and social freedom. However, he seems to want to accomplish that at the expense of economic freedom.

    He seems to be in favor of a (very) heavy tax on the wealth and socialized medicine.

    Liberals tend to promote a highly regulated economy that re-distributes wealth to “benefit” the lazy or incompetent at the expense of property rights. On the other hand, conservatives prefer to legislate morality because of some sort of misguided superiority complex telling them that they know how to live your life better than you do, also at the expense of property rights. Libertarians, IMO, should support both social AND economic freedom – fight against income re-distribution and forced morality.

    Maher doesn’t fit that description IMO.

  5. And here:

    “However, Maher does support many stances which are in direct opposition to libertarian ideology and/or associated with liberalism, including government regulation of corporations, foreign aid, public schooling, a ban on homeschooling, campaign finance reform (which he has since repudiated, saying “OK, we tried it, it didn’t work”), environmentalism (he believes George W. Bush is “destroying the ecosystem of planet Earth”), affirmative action, minimum wage laws, gun control, income redistribution through higher taxation and government funding for abortion. ”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Maher

  6. And also here”

    “However, he also holds many Social Democrat positions that are in direct opposition to libertarian ideology, such as government regulation of corporations, foreign aid, public schooling, a ban on homeschooling, campaign finance reform (which he has since repudiated, saying “OK, we tried it, it didn’t work”), environmentalism, affirmative action, minimum wage laws, gun control, income redistribution through higher taxation as a means for the wealthy to pay for some of the advantages they enjoy as Americans, government funding for abortion, and support for Ralph Nader in the 2000 U.S. ”

    http://www.answers.com/topic/bill-maher