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Unreal Time with Bill Maher: Are You Pro-Socialized Medicine because you're a nurse or because you're a socialist?

Posted on July 6 2009 4:46 am
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher has been on a hiatus the past few weeks, so they’ve been running repeats of recent shows.

The good news: you can watch a political discussion show for an hour without having to hear about Michael Jackson.

The bad news: HBO seems to mainly be running all-leftist episodes.

Despite Maher’s vocal leftism, he’s not opposed to having conservatives on his panels or as featured interviews. In the past weeks, such Republicans as Meghan McCain, P.J. O’Rourke, and Frances Townsend have participated in discussions. Maher even had an episode in which he went head-to-head against both former UN  ambassador John Bolton and former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson.

On Friday they ran the episode in which Maher devotes half the time to a one-on-one, fawning interview with Gore Vidal. (Somehow Maher forgot to confront him on his claims that Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened.) And then last night they ran episode 156 which first ran on June 5. The episode featured a discussion panel which included investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, journalist Matt Miller, author/columnist Paula Froelich, comedian D.L. Hughley, and Maher as moderator.

Or in other words: a hard-left Nation contributor (Scahill); a softer-left Center for American Progress fellow (Miller); a Page Six gossip columnist with a new book to promote (Froelich); and a comedic version of the America-smearing professor from the University of Pennsylvania, Michael Eric Dyson (Hughley).

Had the gossip columnist been dropped and maybe two conservatives or Republicans been thrown in, it would have been a fun panel. Alas, with this gathering, the range of debate went from whether to have a “single-payer” health care system (what Scahill was most adamant in arguing for) or a “Switzerland-style” system in which government issued vouchers to pay for people’s insurance (Miller’s position.) So a “debate” between The Nation and the Center for American Progress. Yawn. There weren’t any free-market advocates to challenge both positions and produce a real debate.

More disappointing is that Maher let this slide:

“Both of my parents are nurses and they are passionate supporters of single-payer health care,” Scahill said.

If Maher was really doing his job of moderating the discussion he would have shot back, “Come on Jeremy. Do your nurse parents support single-payer because they’re nurses or because they’re probably socialists who would raise a son who writes for The (expletive deleted) Nation?”

Of course the profanity wouldn’t be deleted because it’s HBO. Just another reason to watch Real Time — political debate is always better when spiced with well-placed obscenities. And Maher and HBO know that. Maybe next time, they’ll remember too that Republicans, conservatives, and other free-market advocates spice up an otherwise bland leftist “debate” as well.

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