Green Room

Why is Sarah Palin treating Glenn Beck as though he’s normal?

posted at 3:08 pm on May 1, 2010 by

No one much will ever likely care that Sarah Palin endorsed Glenn Beck in a puffy little capsule bio for Time Magazine’s 2010 list of 100 influential people, but I think it was a bad move for her – in what it required of her and and what it seems to say about the direction she’s heading.

Supporters of Palin and fans of Beck – or would it be fans of Palin and supporters of Beck? – will be happy to see them “together,” and enemies of both will be happy, too, if for different reasons. Getting closer to Beck may help Palin and other politicians with a wing of the conservative movement (or Beck’s x-million viewers and listeners), but I don’t see it helping with anyone else – to put it charitably.

For those keeping score on what everyblogger thinks about anything, I won’t pretend neutrality on Beck. Though I felt he played a mostly positive role in 2009, I was dubious of him even then, and am less and less able to approve of his impact on national politics and the national political discussion. In my opinion he gets too much wrong, and gets it wrong in a divisive and offensive, not to mention paranoid and kitschy way. His Christian-themed Fairey-ized Founder posters, for example, are no credit to the subjects, and you would have to be a conservative who despises Barack Obama and all of the Obami already - or just insensitive – not to understand immediately what a cheap, bizarrely combative, and insular gesture it is to use the images as an everyday backdrop: The depictions aren’t innocent, positive celebrations of the Founders: They’re disses of Obama and all of those “cancerous” progressives who are progressing – everyone with me – progressing toward what? The gulags! Concentration camps! Che! VAN JONES IS A COMMUNIST!! Anita Dunn loves Mao! (Play tape excerpt thousandth time.)

Governor Palin describes Beck as “like the high school government teacher so many wish they’d had.” Well, maybe on the surface, on the level of style – you don’t make $30 million+/annum if a lot of people don’t find you congenial – but, if I had a kid at school, and his “government teacher” came on like Glenn Beck, rightwing or leftwing or just plain peculiar, I’d have a problem with that. I’d have a problem with a high school teacher who said, as I heard Beck saying the other day before I had a chance to switch him off after Cavuto, “don’t trust anyone, everything you hear is wrong,” with the inescapable subtext “except for and from me, Glenn Beck.” I think he might have been talking about the Puerto Rico statehood plebiscite bill, which he apparently has some number of his fan-supporters believing is part of the big cancerous progressive plot progressing toward what? The gulags! The concentration camps! Euthanasia! Woodrow Wilson was a RACIST! TIVO my next show!

America, Sarah Palin should not be pretending that Glenn Beck is normal. Maybe you’re a fan or supporter of Glenn Beck with a tolerance for criticism that has allowed you to read this long at least. Maybe, objective sort that you are, you can admit further that GB’s not precisely normal – middle of the road, mainstream – and that someone led to his show by Sarah Palin might begin to wonder about her, or, more likely, have whatever pre-existing doubts about her judgment and where she’s coming from confirmed.

It would be clear to such a someone within a short while that Glenn Beck does not, again quoting Palin, “desire to teach Americans about the history of the progressive movement.” That’s ridiculously bland, a phony whitewash. Glenn Beck wants, as he has said, to destroy the progressive cancer to the last cell, and he insists that politicians (like Paul Ryan) adopt his language.  Beck is not “doing to ‘progressive’ what Ronald Reagan did to ‘liberal’ – explaining that it’s a damaged brand.” Toyota is a damaged brand. No one is running around saying that Toyota is driving us, where?, to the Gulag! Buy Gold! Catch me and Bill O’Reilly live in your town! (For $160/seat.)

Ronald Reagan did “damage” the liberal brand, but he didn’t do it by treating liberalism as sub-human, a lethal disease. He declared the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” not the Democratic Party. Liberals were “our liberal friends,” “our friends on the other side” – and sometimes “our” golfing and drinking buddies, too. Aside from reflecting the fact that Reagan had liberal friends and even a few liberal/progressive notions from time to time, Reagan’s cordiality and openness gave him the political advantage over all those on the left calling him an “extremist” and using other brain-switched-off terms for him.

And those people who don’t bother to ring up Glenn Beck’s red phone? They’re not, as Palin puts it, “self-proclaimed powers that be.” They’re supposed to be the duly elected President of the United States and his administration. I’ve never heard them “proclaim” themselves “powers that be.” If they happen in fact to be the powers that are, they were proclaimed as such by Congress, after the tabulated votes of well over 100 million citizens in 50 states reached Electors, empowered as per Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, and the 12th and 23rd Amendments of the Constitution.

If and when someone replaces our current “powers,” it will, one may hope and expect, be by the same process, and it will very likely require many millions of those same citizens changing their minds. If polls and anecdotes are to be trusted – poll after poll and anecdote after anecdote – a lot of those citizens seem to have doubts about Sarah Palin, in part because they, perhaps wrongly perhaps rightly, consider her a captive and symbol of what Glenn Beck also represents to them.

I’m not arguing that conservatives need to denounce Glenn Beck and all his works – though, given his ratings decline from the commanding heights and his dependence on escalating political melodrama, we might anticipate some truly excessive excess, the hammer of nonsense finally exploding the anvil of desperation for a story, someday requiring one or more rightwing Sister Souljah moments from ambitious politicians, if only to make up for past conspicuous acts of self-interested ring-kissing.  On that day, those who’ve established some healthy separation, in an abundance of good conservative caution, would be less likely to be hit by burning debris, trapped in the flaming pyre, or tumbled over and trod upon by those rushing panickedly for the exits.

In the meantime, America, politicians interested in distinguishing themselves for their clarity of mind, seriousness of purpose, and honesty should be willing to call out Beck, or anyone else, as they really see him.  If they prefer to pander to his crowd and kneel before his mediatized eminence, or if they simply remain non-cognizant of everything that makes Beck Beck, then we’ll be forced to draw a different set of conclusions about their character, their capacities, and their aims.

cross-posted at Zombie Contentions

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Ck, serially wrong, and proud.

Inanemergencydial on May 2, 2010 at 11:40 PM

As long as Beck and Palin continue to cause the left apoplexy, I’m for them both.

I thought Olbermann was gonna stroke out on tv when Brown won Mass.

PA12 should make for wonderful tv. Murtha said it would be a cold day in hell when he lost his district to a republican.
How ’bout it John? getting cold down there?

docjohn52 on May 2, 2010 at 11:43 PM

I can’t like Sarah Palin if Sarah Palin likes Glenn Beck. It’s not a very good argument.

not at all is that a good argument. the argument that Obama is a radical because he knows Bill Ayers is a good argument.

the argument Beck made about Obama address to school children being a forerunner of a plan to indoctrinate the children of America into becoming Obama cultists was a good argument.

audiculous on May 3, 2010 at 1:10 AM

Well, if you have arguments about what Glenn Beck has gotten wrong, put up the facts. Van Jones is a self-proclaimed communist. Anita Dunn admires Mao and all of his woundrous achievements. Facts. Obama is an Alinskyite. Put it up if you’re going to complain about things. This article is nonsense.

LarryG on May 2, 2010 at 1:12 PM

I coulda sworn that Beck spewed a bunch of gas about Van Jones being a convicted felon. Was Beck factual on that?

audiculous on May 3, 2010 at 1:15 AM

Well,CK Macleod, thanks for sharing you perspective. Glenn Beck has done more for the Conservative movement than you have ever done. Your hand-wringing over his divisiveness seems to be more closely related to a desire for Conservatism to seem “normal” and “reasonable”; people like Beck give you REASONABLE Conservatives like you a bad name. I don’t agree with everything Beck says, but you’re 100% wrong when you jibe him for his “don’t believe anyone but me” attitude. He routinely says to question everyone, even himself, and wants people to think and research for themselves. Maybe if you actually listened instead of simply poo-pooing you’d know that. I suppose it’s easier to simply put yourself forward as a wise, reasonable person struggling to hold the middle ground against this tide of ignorant, fear-mongering religious folk.

Living4Him5534 on May 3, 2010 at 5:50 AM

I don’t get the American penchant for discounting someone’s ideas because the person makes money from them.

Highlander loves to jab at Beck’s wealth (in this article, Beck and O’Reilly are charging $160 a seat or something).

To those few fair minded folks visiting here, making money for your idea does not make your idea wrong. Do some scientists make stuff up to propagate their fame? Sure, some commit research fraud, but many don’t. Do some political analysts write books to replenish the retirement account? Sure. Pop-atheism is particularly hot these days.

If Mr. Beck is just making crap up about progressives or whatever, I don’t see it. There really are progressives in American history, and they really did and do believe that history was on a forward march toward the solution of all social problems including war, racism, poverty, etc. by strict application of the scientific method.

Perhaps Highlander ought to be concerned, as Beck is, that the progressives seem ominously unable, or unwilling, to admit that their vision failed miserably in the 20th century. On the contrary, the progressives have doubled down.

This inability of the Left to admit the profound defects of the progressive doctrine is a cause for alarm. For some reason, Highlander is blaming the messenger.

jeff_from_mpls on May 3, 2010 at 7:25 AM

I coulda sworn that Beck spewed a bunch of gas about Van Jones being a convicted felon. Was Beck factual on that?

audiculous on May 3, 2010 at 1:15 AM

That’s one mistake that he’s corrected, repeatedly. That’s the one thing the White House has managed to point out that Beck got wrong. One. And it’s that Jones was just in jail, not a convicted felon. One.

What else you got?

Pablo on May 3, 2010 at 7:43 AM

I’m not a huge Beck fan, but this argument has a Bork-sized hole in it:

Ronald Reagan did “damage” the liberal brand, but he didn’t do it by treating liberalism as sub-human, a lethal disease. He declared the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” not the Democratic Party. Liberals were “our liberal friends,” “our friends on the other side” – and sometimes “our” golfing and drinking buddies, too. Aside from reflecting the fact that Reagan had liberal friends and even a few liberal/progressive notions from time to time, Reagan’s cordiality and openness gave him the political advantage over all those on the left calling him an “extremist” and using other brain-switched-off terms for him.

Reagan was able to be cordial with Tip O’Neill, etc. and compromise when necessary. He preferred to win when possible, however.

The caricature of Reagan as a genial, nonconfrontational politician is mythical, and viewed through rose-colored hindsight. He was much more direct than is often mentioned today.

And, as I alluded to earlier, much of the political landscape shifted with his nomination of Bork near the end of his terms (1987?). We’re in a different political environment today than we were in 1984.

cs89 on May 3, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Pablo, how about the crap Beck was spewing about the presidents’ address to schoolchildren being the beginning of a planned campaign by the White House to brainwash the kids?

audiculous on May 3, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Pablo, how about the crap Beck was spewing about the presidents’ address to schoolchildren being the beginning of a planned campaign by the White House to brainwash the kids?

audiculous on May 3, 2010 at 1:50 PM

You’re completely right, that instance was nowhere near the “beginning” of said campaign.

[/couldn'tresist]

Cylor on May 3, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Despise Obama? Because I listen to Beck? NO.

I despise him because he broke the rule of law during the Chrysler bankruptcy and openly mocked those 1st lien holders and then gave preference to his union buddies.

I despise him because he openly mocked, on April 17th, the very citizenry of this country merely because they protested his policies of spending THEIR money irresponsibly.

I despise him because he made a video last week asking for the support of particular citizens over others, even though he is supposed to be OUR president as well. For ALL the people.

I can go on and on with the unprecedented things this president has done.

When you look at the things Beck has exposed, no, we do not think we are on our way to the gulags (and you know that flourish of yours was idiotic), but we do know the president and his cronies are serious about the “transformation” of this country into their vision of a Euro-Socialistic model.

Beck exposes the agenda of “re-distribution” of wealth that is the core belief of this administration and he uses their OWN WORDS in his argument.

He has fostered many Americans to READ more about our history and slough off the revisionism we were sold during our “education” in the school system.

What is so nefarious about that CK? I know more about our founders and our Constitution that I ever have since I have been reading the books Beck has featured on his show.

Progressing towards what? Are you blind CK?

Progressing towards unconstitutional mandates that force a citizen to buy a “qualified” product from a private insurance company.

Progressing towards bigger and bigger government and government intervention in one’s private affairs.

Progressing towards the demonization of citizens simply protesting against their government’s policies.

Get a clue CK

Opposite Day on May 3, 2010 at 2:35 PM

as I heard Beck saying the other day before I had a chance to switch him off after Cavuto

Uhm, I think there’s your problem right there.

Maybe someone wishing to have “clarity of mind, seriousness of purpose, and honesty should be willing” to fully listen to those they criticize, and not just demonize based on an already formed bias or a snippet of information.

Even Paul Ryan said you GOT IT WRONG when you pegged him as a progressive.

Ryan has more in common with Beck than he does with you.

My question is: Do you recognize your bias, or are you too blinded by either jealousy or hatred to see it?

MississippiMom on May 3, 2010 at 3:02 PM

So while the ardor of cable viewers for the Beck show may have fallen off a bit, he’s still a potent marketing force. Even with smaller ratings numbers, he’s still the second-highest-rated cable news host, behind only his Fox colleague Bill O’Reilly. And Beck’s year-to-year drop since April 2009 was more modest than others — 7 percent among total viewers and 6 percent in the age 25-54 demographic (the viewership advertisers most covet).

By comparison, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann saw a ratings drop of 13 percent overall and 30 percent in the 25-54 demographic over the same period, and CNN’s prime-time hosts have taken an even steeper fall, down 40 percent overall from a year ago.

A little snippet at the end of the link you posted showing Beck’s ratings drop.

Is this a habit you have of not using full context?

Or perhaps, are you purposefully trying to manipulate facts in order to fit the story to your preconceived bias?

MississippiMom on May 3, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Do you actually have anything in common with Hot Air posters?

Esthier on May 3, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Pablo, how about the crap Beck was spewing about the presidents’ address to schoolchildren being the beginning of a planned campaign by the White House to brainwash the kids?

audiculous on May 3, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Crap? I dunno. I don’t get it.

Mmm mmm mmm….

Pablo on May 3, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Pablo, old bean, not only do you get it, you might well be full of fecular fun

audiculous on May 4, 2010 at 4:17 PM

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