He did, of course, have a fight – mostly with the GOP presidential wannabes and their hackneyed, botched CNBC debate. But beyond the standard insults and riffing, it was police brutality against kids that saw the liberal thought leader get his hackles up. Unfortunately, the comedian-cum-commentator missed his mark entirely.
He blamed the parents.
Surrounded by a sweaty, tense-seeming David Spade, who was there promoting a memoir, and his weekly guest panel – Roger Stone, who holds the dubious honor of once being Trump’s senior advisor and is also an author, Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Democratic California Congresswomen Maxine Waters – Maher lit into today’s parenting, or lack thereof, as the root cause of the sudden uptick of police assaulting children that has ridden a wave of headlines.
“I have sympathy for people in authority because I think parents just let kids do anything these days…” he mused. “Am I wrong? Parents aren’t doing their job? It’s overzealous policing and under zealous parents?”
The host’s hypothesis was pegged to the recent brutal body slamming of a high school student by a South Carolina police officer while in her classroom, which was caught on bystander video and led to the officer being fired.
Representative Waters came in with a heated defense of the victims of police violence. Even slack jawed Spade managed to drag himself from his stupor, defending parents by saying that sometimes they may go easy, but it’s because they don’t want to look bad to other parents. Maher pushed on, saying that it’s parents constantly negotiating with children rather than drawing firm lines that lead to the lack of respect for authority. He claimed a disconnect exists between the parents and teachers.
Which may be the case – but are we really to accept that helicopter parenting is the root cause of power hungry cops reacting with intense aggression to teenagers? Should a girl who refuses to leave her desk in a classroom be smashed against the ground and dragged, with her desk, by a police officer just to show her who’s boss?
Maher quickly demonstrated that he lacks the emotional prowess to rear a child, or even a puppy, in today’s world, and was slow to make the connection. Perhaps he was playing devil’s advocate – after all, it can’t be easy to come up with something to rant about every week – but this was, at best, a weak and pathetic tact. Making excuses for anyone to lay hands on a non-violent child in a power play, especially across racial lines, is, in today’s society, not a joke.
Ultimately, all the “experts” on the panel agreed that cops need body cameras, and that the officers who have come out against them probably had something to hide.
“We pay them to protect and serve. Thank god for cameras.” Waters said.
To his credit, Maher did open with one of the better Halloween costume jokes of the season, “Got myself a handful of Xanax, you can either take them and go as Ben Carson or put them in someone’s drink and go as Bill Cosby.” After which he riffed on Islamic extremism with pre-panel guest Hawaii’s Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who also serves as the vice chairman of the DNC, agreeing with her that it’s a bad idea to remove Assad from Syria, since someone even worse would surely pop up in his place.
All in all, this week was a far cry from his previous episode, where Maher stunned Dem hopeful Bernie Sanders, and everyone else, by challenging him openly in what all assumed would be a soft interview. It’s in throwing curveballs that Maher is at his best.
Maybe next week it’ll be better.