Chuck Todd filling in for Chris Matthews on Hardball asked Bill Maher about some of his recent comments about Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, and Maher just couldn't bring himself to say there was anything wrong with them. And while I agree with his statement to Todd that he's not held to the same standards as a journalist or one of these pundits on television, someone needs to remind Maher that the language he used is just sexist and all he's done is give conservative bloggers a reason to be rightfully outraged about what he said and he turns them into victims when there are plenty of reasons to criticize both of them without having to go there with the language he used.
There are plenty of things you can say about both of them and plenty of names you could use for them without having to resort to calling them the "c" word or twat. I would not want anyone calling me, any of my female friends or any female politicians on the Democratic side of the aisle those names and I think Maher should apologize for using those words when describing Palin and Bachmann. I disagree with their politics completely and think they're both a couple of flame throwers and deserve to be criticized for how completely irresponsible both of them have been to our political dialog. Being just as irresponsible in criticizing them isn't helpful, productive and it's just plain sexist. That said, Maher's pretty stubborn, so I'm not holding my breath for him to listen to me or anyone else on this matter.
I think Steve Benen hit the right note on this one as well and I agree with what he wrote on the topic today at The Washington Monthly -- The Right Targets, The Wrong Language:
Regular readers know I have no qualms about calling out ridiculous far-right Republicans like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. I consider them national embarrassments, representing the worst American politics has to offer.
And yet, I'm uncomfortable with language like this, even from a talk-show host I generally like. [...]
Look, I know Maher is a comedian, and often, he's a good one. I also know that in comedy, being outspoken and over the top is just part of the act -- discomfort and a high shock-value can lead to bigger laughs. And it's not lost on me that Maher hosted a program called, of all things, "Politically Incorrect."
But I don't like language that's demeaning to women, even if I'm offended by the women on the receiving end of the criticism. There are endless ways to mock conspicuously unintelligent conservatives -- from either gender -- without using ugly language like this.
It doesn't matter if Palin and Bachmann are idiots. It does matter how one goes about describing them as idiots.