Bill Maher is not a fan of the 13 existing presidential libraries, and he made no bones about it on Real Time on Friday night, slamming the new one dedicated to George W. Bush for features like the “Decision Points Theater,” which asks visitors to choose whether they would invade Iraq if they were in Bush’s shoes.
“Who was asking that question? No one,” Maher raged. “No one. What a bullshit rewriting of history. After 9-11, nobody went, ‘Yeah, we gotta go after Iraq, ’cause they didn’t do it.’”
While his panelists were quick to point out that taxpayers did not fund the construction, Maher retorted that public funds are used to “maintain the fictions” of each administration.
“They’re presidents. They’re not King Tut,” said Maher. “Why do we have to build a mausoleum?”
But Maher’s panelists still countered his stance; actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith pointed out the value of having “different histories” represented in the libraries, while Newsweek and Daily Beast columnist John Avlon argued for them as repositories — albeit partisan ones — of civic history in the face of a country “running down the slope of stupid.”
The sight of all five living chief executives gathered for the occasion, Smith said, also pointed to a unique bond between them.
“Even though they may be critical of each other, it never comes out in an event like that,” she explained. “Which leads me to believe that they really are kind of a tribe, which in the end sticks together.”
Maher also had choice words for Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), calling him “an asshole” for his statement that while “five jihadists have reached their targets” during President Barack Obama’s administration, none did so during Bush’s two terms — after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I love the way they count terrorism with Bush after 9-11,” Maher said. “‘Except for that one horrible thing.’”
Robert Traynham, dean of the school of continuing studies at Georgetown University, quickly agreed with Maher, calling Cotton’s attack ridiculous.
“What he’s insinuating is that President Obama’s soft on terror, as opposed to President Bush,” Traynham said of Cotton. “This doesn’t even pass the smell test. I mean, every president, obviously, wakes up every single day, looks at the threat assessment, says ‘What can I do to protect all of us?’”
But Cotton’s statements were especially troubling, Avlon said, seeing as how he is a Harvard Law School graduate, a military veteran and Rhodes Scholar.
“Hyper-partisanship makes you stupid,” he told Maher. “You start playing to the cheap seats.”
Watch video, posted by Mediaite on Friday, below.