“He looked a lot like Mussolini tonight,” said Bill Maher. “Did you see that? He would say something and then [shake his finger].”
The outspoken political satirist had, like many Americans, just witnessed the Republican National Convention’s closing speech delivered by their nominee, Donald J. Trump. And boy, was it a grim affair. Terrorism. Immigrants. Joblessness. More terrorism. In Trump’s mind, America is a country on the brink of total and utter collapse, where people are drinking their own urine, knifing each other for bread and water, and making themselves shiny and chrome before hurling their emaciated bodies at oncoming traffic.
“He convinced a lot of people that he could look like a president—for the Hair Club for Men,” joked Maher. “If you were watching this speech, this was pretty remarkable how bleak this speech was. It was just really about death. Crime is going to kill you, immigrants are going to kill you, terrorists are going to kill you. He has a new hat: ‘Make America Goth Again.’ It was so depressing, Melania started plagiarizing a suicide note.”“And of course the people in the hall loved it,” Maher added. “They were like, ‘Finally! A candidate who can bring this country apart!’”
Maher was hosting the second live edition of his HBO series Real Time immediately following the RNC. During the first, the focus was on Ted Cruz, who stole some of Trump’s thunder during his keynote speech by refusing to endorse the man who insulted his wife’s looks and tied his father to the JFK assassination, urging those watching to “vote their conscience.”
Show No. 2—Maher’s last before taking on the Dem convention in Philadelphia next week—saw the satirist homing in not only on Trump’s speech, but also the extreme RNC focus on his children, who are said to be his closest advisers during his White House run, even going so far as vetting his VP candidates.
And Trump’s favorite child is his daughter Ivanka, who, despite fielding many a creepy comment over the years, has been his most steadfast supporter, and delivered the RNC’s most impressive speech in introducing her father. “Trump, of course, was introduced by his lovely daughter Ivanka. You know, Marilyn Munster,” quipped Maher. “The one they let open the door so strangers don’t see all the monsters at once. Ivanka said her father has always been there for her—although sometimes she wishes he would sleep in his own bed.”“The media loves Ivanka,” he added. “They say, ‘She is the sharpest of the Trump kids,’ which is like being the least crazy of the voices in Ben Carson’s head.”“The media, they’re so stupid. They always say, if Trump has these great kids, how bad can he really be? First of all, they’re not kids. Second of all, not great. Third of all, he didn’t raise them—the ex-wives raised them! It’s true! He had very little to do with them until after they graduated college. His kids are like his properties: He doesn’t build them, he just puts his name on them.”
But then Maher, during the panel portion, circled back to Trump’s big, bleak, “fact-free” speech.
“This speech that Donald Trump made tonight, I’ve never seen a speech like that,” said Maher, dumbstruck. “It’s usually about, you know, the optimism…with Ronald Reagan, who was not mentioned very much, by the way, at this convention, that the optimistic candidate wins. It didn’t seem that way.” “That’s the other thing about this speech: so fact-free,” he continued. “I mean, all politics is somewhat fact-free, but they have just taken it to a whole new level. ‘Hillary’s going to abolish the Second Amendment!’ as if any Democrat ever said that.”
The comedian also touched on the alarming amount of negativity at this week’s RNC, both from Trump and his army of bellowing surrogates. Chants of “lock her up!” echoed repeatedly throughout Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena again Thursday night.
“This election, to me, is a referendum on decency—just fundamental decency,” said Maher. “I mean, the hatred that we have heard, people talking about how Hillary should be treated as a traitor, it’s like the best thing that would happen to her is a painless death, but what we should really do is tear her fingernails off and shoot her.”