Authentic Is the New Slimy

By Bill Maher

Days before the election, a video surfaced of Mitt Romney from August of 2007, in which he's arguing with a radio interviewer at Iowa's WHO 1040. Why is he so pissed? Because the guy asked Romney to comment on how he reconciles his Mormon faith with his position on abortion and women's rights. There is no problem, asserts Romney, and then he proceeds to get angry and lay into the radio host, even though the DJ keeps reminding Romney that he's on his side.

What's notable about the video isn't the content so much as that it shows Romney actually acting, well, human. He's emotional. He’s not speaking in sound bites or platitudes. He's taking on the interviewer, even calling his assertions baseless and laughing him off. For the first time anyone in America can think of, Mitt Romney actually seemed to be telling a potential voter that he's an asshole and he can believe whatever he wants, but that doesn't make it true.

Or as it's otherwise known, "two humans speaking as two humans usually do."

It's also what Chris Christie does, if one of those two humans is a prick. But I have to say, I find the Christie brand of prick kind of refreshing. I even liked Mitt Romney's brand of prick in that video. I certainly like it a lot better than the "Gosh, I Love America" Mittbot 3000 that we saw during the campaign.

Because say what you will about Chris Christie, but the man is the most candid politician on the national stage today. Perhaps that's not saying much, but he’s not someone who panders a whole lot. He's not afraid to have enemies. When he speaks, you get the sense that he believes it. Political people spent weeks trying to decipher what Christie's motivations were when he praised Obama for the hurricane response and ignored Romney. But the likeliest answer is that he's an emotional guy and that's how he reacted to an enormous hurricane. 

I'm just saying: maybe authentic is the new Slick Willy. Maybe the paradigm has shifted here. I think voters -- though still largely clueless and uninformed -- are far more media savvy and familiar with political bullshit than they were a generation ago. We're not only living in the information age, but the Gawker and Buzzfeed era, where every public figure's public statements are criticized and made fun of on websites and on Twitter from the moment they're uttered. There's now a whole sector of the internet devoted to finding public figures to make fun of. And the obvious target: the people who are obviously full of shit. The Mitt Romneys of the world don't stand a chance anymore. This generation saw right through Mitt's act. Because not only do we have your past statements on video, we can post them all in succession followed by a cat playing you off on the piano. That's new.

Much in the same way I think there's a real opportunity for a moderate Republican right now, isn't there also a growing opportunity for someone who hasn't had the ability to talk like a normal human being willingly stripped from them by political consultants?