During his New Rules segment this Friday evening, Bill Maher wrapped things up by taking both Bob Dole and President Obama to task for their praise of the one who shall never be spoken badly about in Republican circles, St. Ronnie Reagan.
As Maher rightfully pointed out, former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole's claim on Fox News Sunday last month that Reagan could not have survived in today's Republican party doesn't exactly hold water if you actually bother to take a look at how Reagan behaved when he was in office.
MAHER: This has become a kind of conventional wisdom, that the Republican party has gone so far right, Reagan himself wouldn't fit in. But I'm here tonight to call bullshit on that.
Ronald Reagan was an anti-government, union busting, race baiting, anti-abortion and anti-gay, anti-intellectual, who cut rich people's taxes in half, had an incurable case of the military industrial complex, and said Medicare was socialism, that would destroy our freedom.
Sounds to me like he would fit in just fine. [...]
But what they cannot contest is even though Ronald Reagan did a few things today's GOP would not like, he wrote the playbook for them on every issue of consequence. Sure he raised taxes a few times, but when you look at where he started with taxes and where he ended, this is where our income inequality problem began. He invented Voodoo economics.
On race, his ideas couldn't have been more tea party if he shouted them from a Rascal scooter. He ran on states' rights. He invented the notion that black people get all the breaks. [...] Reagan just made shit up. Something else, he pioneered for his party of today.
He described the New Deal as fascism, Medicaid recipients as waiting for handouts, unemployment insurance as pre-paid vacation for freeloaders, and once said, "A tree's a tree, how many more do you need to look at?"
He was the original, official pitch man for bat-shit, where they hold up signs that say "No socialized medicine." Where do you think they got it from? We got it from you dad. We got it from you.
Maher also took President Obama to task for mainstreaming Reagan, and while I think the whole "brother from another mother" bit is a little over the top when it comes to criticizing what praise President Obama had for Reagan, when it comes to allowing the far right to "become the new middle," I think Maher was spot on.
We've been allowing that Overton window to move way too far to the right for a very long time now and the result has been the destruction of our middle class, record income disparity and a return of a new Gilded Age. St. Ronnie was leading the charge to get us to where we are now. It was nice to hear that said out loud on the air for once.