Bill Maher is an entertainer who believes comedy has no boundaries. He may be right about that, but political campaigns do.
Because Maher is also $1 million donor to a super PAC aligned with President Obama, his rude comments about Ann Romney are a real problem for the White House.
Reacting to Hilary Rosen’s comment last week that Romney had “never worked a day in her life,” Maher said on his HBO show, “What she (Rosen) meant to say, I think was that Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house to work.”
The comment is bad for Obama on several levels. It keeps alive the “Mommy Wars” theme, to the benefit of the Romney campaign. And, it makes it harder for Obama to complain about incivility and misogyny on the right, as long as a variation of it emanates from the left, too.
What Maher said about Mrs. Romney is mild compared with past statements he has made about conservative women such as Sarah Palin. But it’s still a disrespectful way to talk about any woman; and from a political standpoint, it’s a big mistake for someone so closely aligned with Obama to use language like that to talk about the popular wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
The White House quickly distanced itself from Maher’s remark about Mrs. Romney. On ABC’s “This Week”, former Obama domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said “You know, the language, the sentiment are problematic… The way we talk to each other matters.”
The source of Obama’s campaign money also matters. Obama can claim the same legal distance from the super PAC supported by Maher that Romney can claim from the PACs that support him. But what’s more important to Obama: Maher’s $1 million, or the message the president wants to send about what is acceptable commentary about women?
Maher is welcome to his comedic freedom, but his money should not be welcomed by Obama.