Bill Maher has flip-flopped quite a bit on Ted Cruz.
Speaking to The Daily Beast in January, the host of HBO’s Real Time offered that “Ted Cruz is scarier than Donald Trump,” alleging Trump “says some things that a liberal can love.” By March, after a series of increasingly unhinged Trump statements (and tweets), Maher had dramatically shifted course, sporting a bright red hat that read, “Better Ted Than Dead!”
During Wednesday night’s Republican National Convention, an evening filled with establishment politicians in lieu of luminaries like Scott Baio and some dude named Andy, Ted Cruz surprised the Cleveland crowd by going full Kim Kardashian on The Donald: reportedly issuing a different speech from the one he’d submitted to the RNC—one that refused to endorse the party nominee while urging those in attendance and tuning in at home to “vote their conscience,” or the very slogan of the #NeverTrump movement.
“I don’t want to say it’s a shit-show—but they just sent out for more shit,” joked Maher, broadcast live from his L.A. studio following the RNC. “Did you see what Ted Cruz did tonight? About a half-hour ago? He told the delegates to vote their conscience. Now, when Trump is your candidate, there’s nothing lower than that!”
Indeed there wasn’t—and the crowd could sense it, with reports claiming that officials had to be physically prevented from going after Cruz following his speech.
Maher also reserved some of his ire for the Trump family, who’ve emerged as the centerpieces of each convention night despite their glaring lack of qualifications and organic familial anecdotes. He teed off on Tiffany and Donald Trump Jr., saying they were going to “do a sitcom with Donald called How I Fired Your Mother.” Then he went for Melania Trump, who plagiarized portions of her speech from first lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech.
“It was a tough week for the current Mrs. Trump,” said Maher, before mimicking Trump’s anti-Mexican presidential announcement speech from June. “It turned out she stole a speech about her parents teaching her values, confirming what Donald has always said: Immigrants steal. I hate to generalize, but Slovenia is not sending us its best people. They’re plagiarists, they’re models… I assume some of them are good people.”
The host also addressed not only the overall bigotry of the convention—how “these assholes cheered letting off the cops who killed Freddie Gray” and are “against health insurance and for coal mining”—as well as the overwhelming amount of hatred directed at presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whose name has been mentioned far more than even Trump’s over the event’s first three days.
“Now, for people who may not have watched conventions before—some of them are coming into it for the first time—the hate,” said Maher. “Now, all conventions are about tearing down the other side, to a degree. But by standards, how would you gauge this convention’s hate? It’s a little off the chart.”
“There was a delegate who said [Clinton] should be shot for treason,” he continued. “And Zika virus, apparently she’s responsible for that, according to Mitch McConnell; Boko Haram, responsible for that, according to Chris Christie; Lucifer, she’s in league with [the devil], that’s what Ben Carson said. She’s taking her marching orders from Lucifer! Talk about a Third World country!”
A week back, the political satirist told The Daily Beast he was hoping for a “peaceful riot” that would somehow take the nomination away from Donald Trump. “I hope there is a plot afoot,” he quipped. “I was just re-watching the movie Valkyrie and looking for a one-armed colonel to take out Donald Trump. So I’m thinking Bob Dole.”
It didn’t happen. Bill Maher was expecting the Purple Wedding. What he got in return was an independent act of rebellion.