“Real Time” host Bill Maher pointed to the Democrats’ obsession with identity politics, particularly with regard to who they will nominate in 2024.
During his Friday interview with Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, Maher asked if the country had “got over the gay hump” with his successful re-election bid as America’s first openly gay governor and the election of two lesbian governors in Oregon and Massachusetts. Polis acknowledged voters who say it “doesn’t matter” who they are, but instead it doesn’t matter what they stand for.
“Do you think if you’re running for president, can that really be an advantage?” Maher asked as Polis shook his head in response to the presidential buzz. “Because the Democratic Party is very much about check boxes. And now it’s very hard to imagine any ticket on the Democratic side that has just two ordinary white men. It is unimaginable. So, they need to tick boxes. You tick one of them.’
“First of all, I have a job that I love,” Polis replied. “I’m very passionate about Colorado, I hope everyone will visit Colorado, enjoy Colorado…”
“So you’ll never run for president,” Maher interjected.
“I like the job I have, it’s the job I want,” Polis replied, prompting laughter from the audience for not responding.
Polis added: “It’s not a bad thing that the Democratic Party wants to look like America. I mean, I think it’s good that you have a party, you know, by race, by gender, by all these different — by faith, by all these different factors. I mean, you want to look like America. People should be able to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, there’s someone like me in Congress or someone like me on the Supreme Court.” That’s good.”
“That’s good. But still the question is, is it a priority?” Maher asked. “I think that’s what people sometimes hesitate about the Democrats. Is it more of a priority than things like merit, which should matter more? Is that more of a priority than facts or science?”
“It should never get in the way of merit, should it? You always want a better president, a better member of Congress,” Polis replied. “But what I find fascinating, at least where Democrats are, and I think most Americans are, is that these things don’t matter. I mean, look at President Barack Obama, yeah, the first African-American president of the United States of America… Those barriers that are still in people’s minds, like I can’t do this, I think they’re falling away, and there really is no barrier for any person from any background and regardless of their race, who they are, who they like to believe or not believe at all. In fact, there are no obstacles to working in any position.”
Later in the panel discussion, Maher resumed the topic with his guest, Rep. Ro Han, D-Calif., who has been named as a potential 2024 hopeful when President Biden is not seeking re-election.
The other panelist, CBS News correspondent Robert Costa, predicted that both Polis and Khanna would run until the president did.
“And it’s perfect because there are no naturalistic white guys. The last thing you want is naturalistic white guys. Sorry Gavin Newsom!” Maher laughed.
“I’ll say this… I don’t think it matters,” Hana replied. “I don’t think it matters if someone is American Indian, gay, straight. I think what matters is your vision of this country… That’s the only thing that should matter if someone is white, straight, gay. anything. It shouldn’t matter.”
“It shouldn’t, but it will,” Maher pushed back. “Look, I’m not in this fight. I’m not running for president. I don’t care if it’s two white people or two damn purple people! I’m just saying that the Democratic Party, where they’re with identity politics, they’re never going to have two straight white people guys. And maybe they shouldn’t. I’m just saying that’s a fact. It just can’t be. So you have to check one of the boxes. Fortunately, you do.”
The HBO star then cited potential 2024 candidates compiled by New York Times opinion writer Frank Bruni, many of whom fall on the diversity checklist.
Maher was quick to dismiss one, Vice President Kamala Harriswho, he joked, should run for “president of the University of Santa Barbara.”
“Pete Buttigieg? Hey. Great,” Maher said before making a controlling hand gesture. “Governor Gretchen Whitmer? Yes. Senator Amy Klobuchar? Ro Han? Governor Jared Polis? Gavin Newsom? I’m sorry. And Senator Elizabeth Warren.”
“Who do you think is the best on this list?” Maher asked Hannah, who was especially on the list.
“Joe Biden,” Hannah replied.
“Oh hell come on,” Maher complained.
“I’ll tell you one thing the Democrats need,” Hanna continued. “We need to have a clear vision of patriotism. We have to say that this country has made tremendous progress in terms of race. We have made tremendous progress in the gender field. We’re the greatest country in the world… And I think that’s the message of inclusion and the vision of the country-“
“And celebrate the progress we’ve made!” Maher exclaimed. “We are not always so offended! This is a democratic problem that you must solve.”
“The only thing Liz Truss has done is pave the way for a British Indian to be prime minister,” Khanna said. “My grandfather spent four years in jail with Gandhi [for] Indian independence. Two generations later you have an Indian ruling Britain. How can we not say that history is moving forward?”
“Of course,” agreed Maher.