I saw Ann Coulter and Bill Maher in real life for the first time last night and they were shaking hands. In the basement of Radio City Music Hall (just past a sea of onlookers and a few security guards) were two people who looked honestly happy to see each other. And it made me rethink what I was going to see.
I was their with a few thousand others to see two bitter rivals/old friends from Bill Maher’s TV show ‘Politically Incorrect’ take a couple of jabs at their Red and Blue values. This was the beginning of the 2009 speaker series, and the next couple of events after this one may prove to be quite interesting as well. They have James Carville, Karl Rove, and Mike Huckabee coming to face off against a few others.
We sat down in our seats with some high class plastic cups drinking Jack on the rocks and eating popcorn. I have rarely felt such anticipation for a match up like this. Everyone in the audience seemed almost giggly. I was seated next two an older man who started chatting about how Maher was ‘Just too much’ and ‘He just never quits’.
The FACEOFF after the jump…
I’ve read a few of Coulter’s articles, and have always found her point of view to be so slanted you could just fall right off of it. In fact sometimes when I used to work at Barnes & Nobles I would glance through her books, and murmur to my co-workers about how I actually thought she must be Satan. Not that she was, but her views made my body tense up in anger almost immediately. On the other side of the arguement is the politically inclined comedian Bill Maher. Although I’m a very liberal liberal I never really have taken the time to watch him, and found his plug at the Oscars for ‘Religulous’ pretty annoying. That pretty much brings you up to speed on what I knew about them going into this.
The flags go up.
Both got 15 minutes to give opening remarks. Coulter is first, and I was immediately amazed. She comes out to an audience that has a little cheering and a lot of booing. She does not flinch. She breaks the ice with a few laughs, and goes straight into her shtick. Something that never quite came across in her books is that she’s really charismatic onstage. I disagreed with pretty much everything she said, but the way it came out of her mouth made me vaguely unsure about my position. She plugged her new book “Godless” a few hundred times. How she believed that both creationism and evolution are both based on faith. Described how it wasn’t Republicans who got us into this mess, and in fact the Billy Clinton’s of the world were more to blame. It makes me think of what it must have been like for Odysseus to hear the sirens call out to him from that isle.
Bill Maher is next, and more than a few people give the man a standing ovation as he gets up to the podium. I have to agree with what the old man beside me said – this man is a delight. He is funny and plays to everything that I think is morally right and good in the world. He discusses his feelings about evolution (which are right). He talks about the silliness with religion (which is true). He talks about Obama being criticized way too harshly (and I agree). He also brings up his movie ‘Religulous’ as much as he can.
There were a couple of issues I found to be the most interesting.
They got into their opinions about the war pretty quickly. Coulter thinks we were about to win the war on terror in Iraq. She says that hopefully in a decade George W. Bush will be remembered for protecting us from them. Bill Maher was quick to point out that 9/11 happened on his watch NOT Billy C’s. Then he went into a pretty believable discussion about why leaving Iraq, and using intelligence operations is actually the right thing to do. 10 POINTS to Maher.
Evolution is next. Coulter says there are no links between the Cambrian period to now. She cites a bunch of relevant information to prove her point that fish aren’t much like humans. Maher talks about how he thinks that sediments settled differently, and that eventually we’ll figure it out. He says that all science is the best theory we have to date. Coulter corners him into saying he thinks it’s true, and plays that both creation and science are faith. 10 POINTS to Coulter.
The mortgage crisis gets the spotlight for awhile too. As much as I try to understand this problem I always find myself a little confused with who and where. Coulter argued that it was the yuppies who did it. Bill Maher adds that they put track lighting in the basement, and thought a $100,000 was worth $1,000,000. However it’s not the yuppies who made the bad decision to buy into those deals. It was those greedy fat cats on Wall Street. In Coulter’s book all those bastards are democrats and in Maher’s they are all Republicans. Coulter agrees with Maher on the track lighting problem, and snuffs him with the last statement. 10 POINTS to Coulter.
Finally the moderator asks whether Sarah Palin will be elected president in four years. Coulter loves Palin to death. She think that Coulter is a beacon of hope for the Republican party, and all she has to do for the next four years is read a hundred million books. Maher discusses how forty five is a little late to become well read, and some people just can’t help being morons. Coulter retaliates that Palin was caught off guard by the press, and she’s really not that dumb. Maher points out that not reading the newspaper is a big problem if you’re a politician. 10 POINTS to Maher.
All told there were plenty of other issues they discussed, and I did my best to recollect who said what. What I found most interesting about the argument was that Coulter seemed to really have an incredible grasp of any subject that was thrown at her. She always had a very useful example that cast her thoughts in a reasonable light. Maher seemed to be more incredulous than well armed. He deflected her thoughts with wit, but not so much with the facts. He played up to the crowd, and belittled Coulter now and again with words like ‘Well sugar’ or ‘You know honey’. While funny I think they displayed moments of weakness for Maher, and his inability to corner her in the debate.
All told I loved the event. I can’t wait to see another one. I really hope I get the chance to. I am especially interested in seeing what an hour and half with Rove might be like.