I had the pleasure of seeing Bill O’Reilly give a humorous talk and answer questions in Morristown, NJ last night. He commented, of course, on the sudden passing of Justice Scalia, and spoke mostly about the presidential election. He said nothing about specific issues in the election, only about the candidates.
Here’s something interesting I hadn’t heard before: O’Reilly genuinely believes that Donald Trump would not be where he is right now if not for Barack Obama. Our current president paved the way for someone with a shaky record, who was not the party favorite, to step in and steal the show. O’Reilly knows Trump personally (though he is not actually friends with him) and believes he ran for president just to see what would happen, without expecting to get as much momentum as he’s been getting.
However, his momentum has not increased. These past several months, he’s been able to get about one third of Republicans to support him and that’s it. He’s really not as much of a shoe-in as people think. Ted Cruz isn’t, either. He can’t appeal to anyone who isn’t a hardcore conservative. O’Reilly said it’s impossible to know exactly who will win at this point – but he’s certain it won’t be Bernie Sanders. In fact, he thinks Sanders will be finished after South Carolina. We’ll see about that.
He made the comment a lot of conservatives have been making lately – Sanders and Trump are “basically the same person.” They’re populists – yes, he actually used the word “populist.” They both appeal to people who are fed up with the way our country’s been going. They both make ludicrous promises that we all know they won’t be able to keep.
Trump has no plan to make good on his promises. O’Reilly has pointed out to him that Mexico is never going to pay for the wall, only to get “Yes, they will” as an answer. He said it’s like arguing with a child. “No, you won’t.” “Yes, I will.” He’s asked him how he’s going to take Middle Eastern oil. “I can’t tell you” was his response, “because then they’ll know.”
O’Reilly spent some time on Clinton, too. He thinks she’ll definitely be indicted if the FBI comes up with an actual crime she can be charged with. They won’t do all this work and not indict her. “You don’t put 150 agents on a case for laughs,” he said. And if she is indicted, will Sanders be the nominee, after all? Not a chance. Joe Biden or even Michael Bloomberg might step in.
So whoever happens to be the Democratic nominee this year, rest assured it’ll be someone terrifying. And whoever happens to be the Republican nominee, rest assured it’ll be someone… interesting. O’Reilly thinks the only people who have a chance are Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush. He doesn’t think Kasich is well-known or dynamic enough to do well in South Carolina or any later primaries – although he admitted he’s extremely qualified. Bush is boring, he said, but he has a lot of money backing him. As for Rubio, he said, Clinton’s camp is frightened of having to run against him because he’ll make her look “old.” In my opinion, that’s as good a reason as any to support him.
When asked if we’ve become more partisan and divided over the past few decades, he replied that he doesn’t think so. Instead, he thinks we’ve become more “ignorant and apathetic.” That drew quite a bit of applause. To illustrate this point, I heard a few people talking about Sanders after the show, saying O’Reilly was probably right that he wouldn’t be able to do all he says he’ll do, but they’re still voting for him because they “like him.” Oh, well.
All in all, it was a really good event. He kept the talk short and to the point, and managed to achieve an excellent blend of humor and seriousness. I definitely recommend seeing him if you get the chance.