Obama: The people at Beck’s rally are filled with anxiety

Seven minutes with The One on Glenn Beck’s rally, the Ground Zero mosque, and the endless conspiracizing about his faith and birthplace. (Wisely, he passed on Carville’s advice on what to say about that last subject.) Something for everyone here. For Birthers, agony when Williams declines to press him on the location of the holy grail, a.k.a. his long-form birth certificate. For mosque supporters/opponents, confusion when he suggests that he supports Park51 being built where it is (since we’d let a church or synagogue be built there), then hedges once again by emphasizing that he’s not endorsing any particular project. And for political junkies, shock when a question about Glenn Beck’s religious rally on the Mall leads him to repeat his single biggest mistake of the 2008 campaign. Here’s the money quote, which comes at the very end of the clip. Isn’t this his infamous bitter/clinger theory of small-town values voters dressed up in slightly more politic language?

I — I do think that it’s important for us to recognize that right now, the country’s going through a very difficult time, as a consequence of years of neglect in a whole range of areas. Our schools not working the way they need to, so we’ve slipped in terms of the number of college graduates, you know?

A financial system that was not, you know, operating in a way that maintained integrity and assured that the people who were investing or who were buying a home or were using a credit card weren’t getting in some way cheated. We had a health care system that was broken and that was bankrupting families and businesses. All those issues are big, tough, difficult issues. And those are just our domestic issues. That’s before we get to policy issues in two wars. And a continuing battle against terrorists who want to do us harm.

So, given all those anxieties — and given the fact that, you know, in none of these situations are you going to be fix things overnight. It’s not surprising that somebody like a Mr. Beck is able to stir up a certain portion of the country. That’s been true throughout our history. What I’m focused on is making sure that the decisions we’re making now are going to be be not good for the nightly news. Not good even necessarily for the next election. But are good for the next generation. And I’m very confident that those decisions are the ones that we’ve made.

He says he didn’t watch the rally so he may be under the impression that it was a three-hour “the socialists are coming!” Obama bash-fest. Not so; Weigel is closer to the mark in describing it as “the world’s largest megachurch.” I don’t know what The One was thinking, but dismissing what ended up being a big revival meeting as a byproduct of economic anxiety is not the way to ingratiate oneself with religious voters. And I’m not sure how to take the bit about America producing fewer college grads than it used to. Is he suggesting that that’s one of the things Beck’s audience is worried about? Or is he suggesting that it’s because they themselves are ill-educated that they follow Beck at all?

Update: I changed the headline to emphasize his comments about the rally instead of the Birther thing, which is actually tangential to the post.

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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on April 01, 2023