Bill Maher on why Herschel Walker is a viable candidate

October 18, 2022 • 1:15 pm

Here Bill Maher talks about Herschel Walker, and why such an unfit candidate remains a viable candidate.  James Carville would say that Republicans are going to shoot themselves in the foot with people like Walker because “they have really stupid people who vote in their primaries”, and thus “they tend to elect really stupid leaders.” But Herschel’s candidacy, claims Maher, has more import than that.

Maher’s explanation starts at 4:11, and involves a strong rejection of “what Democrats are selling”.  I’m not sure I agree with Maher’s analysis of how Republicans nominated Walker to “make a point”. And it should be clear that Maher is criticizing woke Democrats, not all Democrats. I just hope like hell that Walker doesn’t wind up as a Senator.  That would shame America, but we already have lots of Republicans in Congress whose presence shames America.

20 thoughts on “Bill Maher on why Herschel Walker is a viable candidate

  1. I’m watching the episode right now. This is off topic, but particularly frustrating. Maher said that some of the places with the lowest vaccination rates had the best results. This is comically misleading and has everything to do with his anti-vaxx ideology. He was also arguing with Neil about how badly the pandemic was handled without realizing he had the rather profound benefit of hindsight bias. I could have been a multi-millionaire last Thursday if I knew the the market would sharply rebound. Certainly decisions should be criticized in the hope of doing better, but he can’t even understand the vaccines were effective after the fact! He’s better than most, but sometimes he could be a bit more humble.

    1. I really love Bill Maher. I think he’s very smart, courageous, and funny. He provides a greatly needed critique of the left from one of their own. However, you’ve put your finger on precisely what I find most objectional about him. He was anti-vax years before the pandemic, which I find astonishing from such an intelligent man. He must have known many kids in school who were crippled or killed by polio before immunization wiped out the disease nearly worldwide.

      1. Totally agree and it pretty much stopped me from watching his show regularly. Anti-vax is a deal breaker when it comes to intellectual respect in my world: like creationism.
        I was amazed at how big anti-vax was during covid, surprised me more than the effects of covid (which I expected with SARS 20 years prior), and I was utterly horrified at the political angle.

        1. > Anti-vax is a deal breaker when it comes to intellectual respect in my world

          I disagree. It is still possible to be anti-vax and have some intellectual integrity. I take a pro-suicide stance (and I hope all readers here do, too). I also respect people who have a pro-extinction stance, even those who want to accelerate the inevitable extinction of humanity through the anti-natalism movement. We can have intellectual respect for those whose opinions we disagree with. We all have different values.

          I don’t, however, respect most anti-vaxers intellectually – not because they are anti-vaxers – but because of the other elements of their memeplex (again, for most of them). This is precisely the problem moderates of all parties face today, when dealing with the extremists of their respective political wings.

    2. To be sure, Maher is not exactly anti-vax. At least not in the sense that the term has been traditionally used. He had his COVID shots, both of them. He also agrees that people who are in vulnerable demographics should probably get them, but he’s against vaccine mandates, especially when these include younger people who are perfectly healthy, and children.

      Also, it’s perfectly fine to judge our social and political reaction to the pandemic, even if only in hindsight, and determine that it was in many ways a failure. Many times, it is only in retrospect that we can bring to light where things went awry.

  2. Brilliant. I’m not sure I agree, however. It’s true that Republican voters deplore a lot of the things they think that Democrats stand for, but I doubt that “wokeness” is high on the list. I think these folks vote on more general concerns such as gasoline prices (how most people measure of the state of the economy), immigration, Godlessness, crime, resentment of the coastal “urban elites,” etc.—all the usual grievances for right or for wrong. If Walker appears to oppose those things, many Republican voters will vote for him.

    More cynical are the politicians who are sticking with Walker. Why? That’s easy. They know he’s a moron, but he’s their moron. Because he doesn’t have the machinery to evaluate policies in his own, he will vote as the leadership tells him to vote. They want him in the Senate so they can use him as they see fit.

    1. The Republicans will do anything to reach 51 in the senate. They would, without hesitation, fund and campaign for Beelzebub himself if that’s what it takes.

      1. Republicans may be unhappy with Walker’s nomination for only one reason: with the revelations about his past, he may lose. For them, it doesn’t matter that he knows nothing about policy or is a chronic liar. He will have only one purpose in the Senate: to vote aye or no as directed by Mitch McConnell. Aside from uttering these words, he will be admonished not to say anything about everything.

        To argue as Maher does that Republicans vote for Walker is a protest against wokeness does not get to the root of their motivation. White Christian America fears that Democrats support policies that will undermine their cultural and political domination. And, ironically, if takes voting for and electing a Black man to maintain that dominance, so be it.

  3. I don’t agree with the make a point argument. I think it’s partly that Walker is not a Democrat and partly that he’s not Warnock. Certainly, if I lived in Georgia I would be unhappy that those were my two choices. (Or with the choices I’d have in PA.)

  4. I do think one thing that is very important to understanding the GOP’s voting patterns, and surprisingly missing from an analysis of the modern GOP is the effect that their strategy of catering to the Evangelical Christian vote since the 1970’s has had. I don’t mean the usual ad hominems, I mean an actual serious look at how the epistemology of Evangelicals has led them to embrace Trumpism. From the Josh McDowell and YEC influence in the 70’s and 80’s to the modern influence of Presuppositionalism and worldview apologetics Evangelicals have always had a “fake news” view of the world which easy led them to see Trump as one of them. Molly Worthen is really the only person I have seen address this.

    Beyond that though, the Democratic Party is also reaping the effects of the strategy they have had since the 70’s, which was often predicated on a kind of elitist dismissal of middle-America, and in the last decade has taken on more of a sore winner mentality as they are shoving there cultural supremacy in conservatives noses.

  5. Any thoughts on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s embarrassing performance on that same episode? In particular, how he claimed that we needn’t worry much about nuclear fallout from H-bombs? When Maher then pressed him on the claim, NdGT kinda spazzed out. [No such thing as a pure fusion bomb. H-bombs require smaller fission bombs to be detonated.]

    Not the first time I’ve heard NdGT say something dumb or false. Maher has always favored NdGT, but hopefully he’s now beginning to see how overrated the man is…

    1. Worse than that. Most so-called H-bombs are actually three-stage weapons in which the intense neutron flux from the fusion of hydrogen and lithium into helium induces fission in the surrounding tamper made of uaranium-238.. U-238 will not support a chain reaction of fission—it is not “fissile”, but it is “fissionable”, to use the jargon. This uranium fission accounts for most of the explosive yield of present-day nuclear weapons and produces two daughter nuclei, which may be radioactive, for every nucleus of uranium “fished”. So the potential is there for extensive persistent fallout depending on how the weapons are used.

      It is possible to make an H-bomb without a tertiary uranium stage. If the tamper is made of steel, the neutron flux from fusion in the secondary is broadcast outward instead of being absorbed in the tamper. Explosive yield and fallout are smaller but much more immediately deadly radiation, neutrons and X-rays are delivered to the target, the so-called neutron bomb. It is also possible to make a bomb that produces more fallout than normal by making the tamper out of metal that, on absorbing neutrons, doesn’t fish but transmutes into a specifically desired radioactive isotope to be scattered on the winds. These have little military utility but capture the imagination as doomsday devices because they are technically possible.

      Stepping back, though, to imagine that a nuclear strike could be absorbed with equanimity just because there might not be much fallout is insane. The destruction of people, supply chains, power generation, financial records, food and water supply, health care, policing, and communication would dwarf the number of people who might die from even a high-fallout scenario.

      I didn’t see the full episode. If NdGT was arguing that small(-ish) fusion weapons could be used in Ukraine without world-threatening fallout, he is probably right. Before the test-ban treat of 1963, hundreds of above-ground nuclear devices were exploded free into the atmosphere. If his point was that a battlefield nuke or two in Ukraine ought not to panic the world into invading Russia to stop an existential threat to humanity, he might have a point.

      1. Leslie tips his cards here on his hobby of reading about nukes. 🙂
        I can respect that b/c I have the same obsession (comes from growing up in the cold war maybe?). There are some good new nuke footage of the USSR testing program at Semiplatinsk on youtube btw.

      2. “If NdGT was arguing that small(-ish) fusion weapons could be used in Ukraine without world-threatening fallout, he is probably right.”

        His claim was more categorical than that: “Modern nukes don’t have that radiation problem.” Here’s the clip. Unfortunately, it’s edited so you don’t see much of NdGT’s flailing defense that doesn’t touch on anything that you’ve mentioned…

        “If his point was that a battlefield nuke or two in Ukraine ought not to panic the world into invading Russia to stop an existential threat to humanity, he might have a point.”

        Perhaps, but he would be arguing the point by saying that fallout is no longer a worry.

        “Before the test-ban treat of 1963, hundreds of above-ground nuclear devices were exploded free into the atmosphere.”

        My understanding is that most air drops were high enough not to produce fallout. Even ground bursts were typically located in flat deserts or isolated islands.

        1. From the clip, which I thank you for, it appears he suddenly realized he didn’t know what he was talking about. Maybe he thought “fusion, stars, my area of expertise” and then forgot how earthly bombs are actually made.

          One or two Fat-Man sized nuclear detonations in Ukraine, dastardly as that would be, would not poison the world even if entirely from dirty fission. I don’t think we would make fallout on that scale a casus belli to attack Russia’s means to continue fighting. Doing that really could poison the world.

          1. He has an “Ask Professor Cranium” sort of TV persona, and sounds good when speaking about the subjects where he has expert knowledge, as well as scripted narration about subjects outside of his field.
            There have been a few instances where he should have found a way to say he does not know the answer, rather than risk looking like a fool.
            “That is the most intelligent question I have ever been asked. Sure, I could give you an answer, but the only people who would understand it you be you and I”

    2. “Maher has always favored NdGT, but hopefully he’s now beginning to see how overrated the man is…”

      Overrated or not, he definitely needed a Valium (or perhaps something Maher might recommend).

      “When in doubt, shout.”

  6. I’m an independent in a true blue state. Because the D’s usually nominate the best candidates in my voting district, I vote D 70 to 90% of the time. But not this year. I’m still angry that the President and my Governor adopted a race based allocation system for the highly rationed covid drug that helped keep people out of the hospital. I’m in tears as I write this. I didn’t need it and the system was temporary but I’m existentially angry that my life was deemed worthless because of my so-called race. And, this year, I refuse to support anyone belonging to the team that made that call.

    1. Concerns like this really make me concerned for the future, one party seems determined to shoot itself in the foot on racial issues. Segregation and racial discrimination are in vogue if you just dress them up in the right language… this is going to come back to haunt them, maybe not this year, or next, but I suspect eventually these kinds policies will backfire.

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