Bill Maher has a chat with Ben Shapiro

July 1, 2018 • 12:15 pm

Bill Maher, to his credit, had conservative Ben Shapiro on his show, and here’s a ten-minute discussion between them. Of course I agree with Maher far more than with Shapiro, but this does show that two political opponents can have a civil discussion. I don’t think minds were changed, but they do have points where they agree (Trump has damaged America’s social fabric, Trump should be impeached if he fires Mueller, etc. ). Of course they disagree on many other points, and there is a bit of flaring temper from time to time.

Nobody is pretending that mere civility is going to bring comity to a politically divided nation. But before we can begin to even find common ground (and I’m convinced there is some on issues like immigration), we have to be able to talk to our opponents.

35 thoughts on “Bill Maher has a chat with Ben Shapiro

  1. I would consider most of what this guy says as nuts. Some may find him rational but I just don’t see it. Additionally, I have a hard time just getting past his sound. If I were not seeing the lips move and the person sitting there I would think he was a 12 year old. Maybe his voice just didn’t change. If part of your argument is to actually say Trump was harder on Putin or I don’t see any evidence of him and the Russians – why would I want to waste time talking to him?

    1. Maybe his voice didn’t change because of some environmental factors. Jared Kushner’s voice, however…/s By the way,(I’m not good at segue here there are quite a few “,voices that moderate the polarizing effects of the squeamish squakers. One good example that comes to mind is David From’s book “Trumpocracy” .

      1. “Frum” — He’s been one of the most insightful and articulate never-Trump conservatives.

        1. My bad for not rechecking spelling of Frum’s surname. Meanwhile, I’ve stirred up a hankering to revisit “One Nation after Trump” by E.J. Dionne

    2. I find it strange that people can be so influenced by the sound of a person’s voice. I know someone who can’t listen to Sam Harris because she feels like he sounds too much like a cult leader.

      1. Maybe it’s the theme music and staging of Sam’s “Waking Up With” podcasts. Sam himself is pretty low key; when I hear “cult leader,” I tend to think bombast.

    3. Perhaps Shapiro would be well-advised to have corrective surgery? Or ought one raise his voice in prayer, beseeching Divine Providence to deliver one from Shapiro’s sonic assault? Would the esthetics of his vocal production be quite the issue did one otherwise agree with most if not all of Shapiro’s positions? Who here can bare to listen to his own voice?

      1. “Bear,” not “bare.” I myself cannot bear hearing my bare-nekkid voice, unless I’ve quaffed a sufficient bolus of beer at the bar, at which time I become a bore and bare my soul.

  2. I like Bill Maher’s show and I appreciate that he has guests with diverse opinions (even utter fools like Ben Shapiro).

    Having said that, I’ve given up on Joe Rogan’s podcast now that I see his latest guest is Ted Nugent, and the interview is almost four hours long.

    1. I agree. It’s good that Maher has people on like Shapiro. However, it baffles me that someone as smart as Shapiro really believes Trump has been tougher on Putin.

      It also amazes me the number of people (including Shapiro) who are agreeing with Trump’s analysis that the annexation of Crimea was Obama’s fault because Obama “let” Putin do it. That reasoning leaves me dumbfounded and utterly speechless. How anyone can even say that, let alone think it, is completely beyond me. This is a case of people having their mind changed or affected by who’s making the argument, rather than the argument itself.

      It’s like Kanye’s ridiculous statement that slaves let it happen.

      You can see why they get on – they think the same way. Neither has the capacity for analytical thinking, and when they try, they inevitably get it badly wrong. However, because of who they are, there are people who listen.

      And Ted Nugent shouldn’t be given airtime. He should be given a prison sentence for paedophilia.

  3. I agree I was happy to see it. I do think if Maher invites a guest on he should allow the guest to express complete thoughts rather than talking over him when the thoughts are not what Maher wanted to hear. 7/10

      1. Which illustrates better than anything I could have said the limited value of talking to people for the sake of being able to say we talk to people.

    1. I call them point makers. If you listen to most pundits they make points. There is no interest in actually doing anything or finding a cure. They have spent their lives making points. It is all they know how to do. So this guy has memorized all the points, all the flaws in the other side. Makes no difference if conservative or liberal, they just make points. If you ever listen to a debate or discussion about the Israeli Palestinian issue you will hear lots of points. No solutions, just points. Many people here and elsewhere should take note. Stop making points and find solutions.

      1. That’s a good point,no pun intended. With the exception of Christopher Hitchens I don’t care for debates at all since the whole format is just about that, scoring points. I much prefer long podcasts such as Joe Rogan’s and Sam Harris’ where two thoughtful people explore subjects in depth. It’s the same reason I never watch “the news”. I want to be well-informed

  4. I watched the episode on Friday and was not impressed. Maher spoke over Shapiro too many times. When Shapiro made a solid point, Maher would not concede and simply moved to another topic. It would be far more informative to have Shapiro and Maher appear on Dave Rubin’s show. I suspect Maher would never agree to something like that as he would actually have to engage in a prolonged, deep thought.

  5. Ben Shapiro is quite a long way from the Trump administration. For instance, he was saying, back in March 2016, “<a url=""I will never vote for Trump". He’s done a lot of hemming and hawing since then, but he’s nothing like the specimens in the White House and cabinet.

    Having a calm, civil discussion with him is nothing like trying to engage with the White House gang.

  6. Ugh. The whataboutery drives me crazy… Shapiro complains about incivility (and I’m with Jerry here that it is NOT helpful to throw people restaurants), and Maher says “what about the Lock Her Up chants?” How are those two things at all comparable? And Maher then INSISTS that Shapiro declare one worse than the other.

    And I don’t think you can be a doofus and an evil genius at the same time. Maher brings up Hitler as an example of someone who was because he was “crazy and a master at manipulating people.” Hitler was a “doofus”? Really?

    Just frustrating to listen to.

    1. I notice US politicians do this a lot – portray people like Hitler, Ayatollah Khamenei, Kim Jong-un, Saddam Hussein etc as crazy. They’re not. But portraying them that way makes it easier to manipulate public opinion because crazy = stupid. If they’re stupid, you don’t have to make proper arguments to oppose them.

      Hopefully people have realized through recent events that Kim is, at the very least, a much better deal maker than Trump.

      Iran’s leadership isn’t crazy either, but making people think they are means they don’t focus on what a majorly stupid thing Trump has done by pulling the US out of the JCPOA.

      Just like convincing them that global warming is a hoax they don’t focus on the diplomatic disaster of pulling out of the Paris Accord.

      Or making them believe free trade is a bad thing, they don’t think about how bad it is not to be a part of TPP.

      Most then just believes the thought leaders on their side, whatever they say. And at the moment that means tens of millions are believing Trump’s lies.

    2. “And I don’t think you can be a doofus and an evil genius at the same time.”

      True, but you can certainly be a doofus and a garden-variety criminal at the same time; the criminal court docks are full of ’em.

      And Trump is the quintessence of both — doofus and criminal, that is. He’s a career scam artist, who’s never turned a straight corner in his life.

      It takes no evil genius to be in Putin’s pocket and to have accepted Russia’s help in the election. It takes only a malignant heart and an utter lack of compunction, and Trump has both in abundance.

      1. Ken: I agree you can be a doofus and a simple-minded criminal. In fact, I’d argue that most career criminals are not incredibly bright. And Trump is a garden-variety lowlife scam artist huckster turned reality TV star turned (gag) President of the US.

        But an “evil genius” he is not. That was Shapiro’s point.. you can’t attribute intricate scheming and incredible acumen to the man while likening him to Elmer Fudd. Maher insists you can, then uses Hitler as an example… this is insipid at best.

        As much as I disagree with a lot of what Shapiro believes (and as much as his “logic” often doesn’t carry water) he’s right on this point. (And if I read you right, you agree here.)

        1. What I don’t understand, John, is why anyone would think (as Shapiro does) that it would’ve taken an “evil genius” to collude with the Russians during the 2016 election. Trump was in hock to Russians (financially, and probably other ways, too) and Putin wanted him to beat Hillary. Any garden-variety, lowlife scam artist could’ve pulled off what Trump pulled off. Indeed, if an evil genius had been calling the shots for the Trump campaign, we wouldn’t be finding these yooge piles of Rooskies under every Trump rock investigators turn over.

    3. Whataboutery is valid when it exposes hypocrisy or double standards in arguments.
      In this case it is perfectly valid to weigh the relative consequence of being denied a meal to being thrown prison when both are being used to encourage faux or real outrage.

  7. “But before we can begin to even find common ground (and I’m convinced there is some on issues like immigration), we have to be able to talk to our opponents.”

    And before we can do that we have to learn to distinguish between people entering the country legally and those sneaking into the country, with or without children. Unless one is bent on making political hay, the distinction isn’t that difficult: people entering legally are like someone who knocks on your door and asks to be invited in; people entering illegally are like someone who attempts to break into your house. Common sense would suggest that we treat these two groups differently. Instead, even proposing that there’s a difference is likely to bring liberal thunder down on your (i.e., my) head.

    1. Sure, which is why the nation needs comprehensive immigration reform. We were on the brink of it in 2013, with the Gang of 8 proposal, but the hard-right put the kibosh on it. We were again on the brink of a bipartisan agreement earlier this year, when Trump met at the White House with a group of congressional representatives on a Tuesday, only to have the hardliners pull him back from the precipice of rationality by Thursday.

      People of good will on both sides of the aisle see the folly of Trump’s zero-tolerance/take-children-from-their-parents policy. That policy was purposefully cruel — for its deterrent effect, according to AG Sessions. But, as Trump confided to his closest confidants, it had an even more pernicious purpose — to energize his white nationalist base in advance of the midterms, since they thrill to the sight of the dusky hordes being made to suffer along our southern border.

      1. There’s nothing wrong with zero-tolerance as a goal, but neither building a wall nor separating children from their parents strikes me as realistic means to that end. I’m not sure there even is a realistic means to that end, but I am sure that failing to make the distinction between legal and illegal entry only muddies the water. And yet intelligent people, many of them good friends of mine, seem content to wallow in that quagmire. I just don’t get it.

    2. And you should probably learn to distinguish between asylum seekers who cross at a place other than an official checkpoint but intentionally turn themselves in to border patrol simply because official checkpoints are deliberately bottlenecked, and people who are “sneaking in.” Asylum seekers are NOT “sneaking in,” they are throwing themselves at the US government the first goddamn chance they get.

      1. You’re right, asylum seekers are not “sneaking in,” and I never said they were. I said nothing, in fact, about asylum seekers, who are in a third category from the two I mentioned.

        The fact remains that the only people in question for “zero tolerance” are those “sneaking in.” All I’m suggesting is that we need to distinguish between this group and those who either enter the country legally or seek asylum. For some reason, my liberal friends seem unable or unwilling to do this.

        1. I’m unaware of anyone of any importance who doesn’t distinguish between what we should do about illegal immigrants and legal immigrants. They may not emphasize it because it is almost never relevant to anything anyone is actually discussing — nobody talks about a “path to citizenship” for legal immigrants, for example, because there already is one — but failure to understand the difference isn’t what keeps people from talking.

  8. “I’m unaware of anyone of any importance who doesn’t distinguish. . . .”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “anyone of any importance,” but where I live (Portlandia), using the word “illegal” to describe people entering country illegally is to immediately be labeled “racist.” As one friend of mine put it, “Why not just call them all ‘immigrants,’ undocumented or not, since that’s what they are?” Why? Because for one thing it’s insulting to equate asylum seekers and legal immigrants with those trying to sneak across the border.

    The New York Times apparently agrees with my friend, since their op-ed pieces have gone from “illegal” to “undocumented” to “unauthorized” to now using no qualifiers whatsoever to distinguish between different groups of people entering the country. (Not that I’d ever call the New York Times “anyone of any importance” 😊.)

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