Yesterday, on the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher David Drier, the conservatron Congressman from California (who is, unfortunately, my former representative during my college years) duked it out with Michael Moore. In the middle of the fray was the former Prime Minister of Canada, whose name I do not remember. Their exchange, and Mr. Drier’s reaction to it, reveals what happens to conservatrons when they are thrust into a situation that has not been pre-choreographed to be advantageous towards them.
The fun began when Mr. Drier asserted that Mr. Moore’s notorious documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, was based on “patently false information.”
“Have you seen the movie,” Mr. Moore asked.
“No,” Drier replied, and the apparently majority left-of-center audience howled in laughter.
Mr. Moore and Mr. Drier leaned towards each other and began hollering over each other as though they were in a Robert Altman movie as the former Canadian PM sat in silence between them.
Mr. Drier attempted to assert that one of the Congressmen, whom Michael Moore asked to volunteer his children for Iraq War II, apparently had a nephew who is serving. Simultaneously, to the delight of the crowd, Moore continuously asked Drier, “Would you send your child to Iraq?” Mr. Drier never answered.
Eventually Maher and the Canadian PM cut off the argument and segued into a conversation with Bill Owen, the Governor of Colorado who is being groomed as the next faux-moderate conservatron to run for President. Although Mr. Owen successfully parried Maher’s questions about why the GOP are keeping their demon piglet standard bearers like Tom Delay out of sight at the convention whereas the Democrats gave prominent speaking slots to Ted Kennedy, Al Sharpton and other liberals, his discomfort was evident in his shifting shoulders and uneasy smile. The sight of seeing a Conservatron cornered and taken to task was rare and seemed to have made Mr. Owen’s pulse rate rise.
The next segment of the show focused on the famous seven minutes of Bush sitting in a Florida elementary school classroom staring into the camera like a lost fawn after being told of the terrorist attacks. Mr. Drier tried to stick to the talking points about Bush not wanting to scare the children and deciding that he needed to project calm for the nation. The prescient arguments of Moore, Maher and the Canadian PM, however, had Mr. Drier tap dancing as though controlled by a puppeteer on meth: “He is the President; he is target number one, every second he stayed there he was endangering those children.” “Would you be calling Clinton a stern leader if he had stayed for seven minutes?” “He is the President; it is his job to know what to do in that situation.” Mr. Drier stuck hard to his pre-recorded script and then pleaded that the situation was too tough for anyone. But there was no out for him in that studio. Maher is more of a libertarian than a liberal, but he has a stand up comic’s BS-detector and he was not about to let Drier off the hook, Moore was obviously going to let him have it, the Canadian PM was not acerbic, but she was clearly unsympathetic, and the crowd was not on his side. By the end of the exchange, Mr. Drier’s face was flushed and he was visibly flustered.
Ralph Nader was the next guest, and after a hilarious scene where Moore and Maher got on their knees and begged him to exit the race, Maher finished the show with his “New Rules” segment. As the camera pulled away Drier’s seat was empty, and not even tucked in. Somewhere between Nader’s introduction and the of “New Rules,” he bounced.
What was refreshing about the exchange is that for once it was the conservatron who had to beat back the forthright rhetoric of several liberals. When most cable and radio talk shows are not featuring a group of conservatrons talking amongst themselves; they generally have a lone liberal put into the position that Mr. Drier found himself in. If it is a one-on-one tet-a-tet then the moderator will never press either side on their argument. It is very easy to deal with the media for a Republican, all you have to do is memorize your talking points, say them and let the echo-chamber repeat them. It is too much to say that Drier cracked or in anyway made a fool of himself. His argument that Mr. Bush was being assuring and resolute by staring blankly into a camera during one of America’s darkest hours was, however, revealed as the nonsense that it is, and Mr. Drier’s flush face and subsequent retreat was proof positive that Conservatrons have to sweat when they are forced off their game.