Glenn Beck's paranoia is poisoning conservatism

The Republicans find themselves caught between two countervailing forces: the need to craft a policy agenda that appeals to middle-class Americans and the need to maintain the support of an angry base of voters that is alienated from, and suspicious of, the new president.

Beck, who with no sense of irony favorably compares himself to Howard Beale, is taking the latter course — with a vengeance. While Democrats have sought to tie Republicans to Rush Limbaugh, his attacks are tame compared with those of Beck, who spoke recently of creeping fascism as visuals of Nazi rallies played behind him. His occasionally unhinged attacks of strung-together nonsequiturs about the evils of Big Government provide little in the way of constructive solutions to the country’s vast problems. But this is also true of what we are hearing from Republican leaders…

If anything, catering to the far right risks becoming a millstone — a cheap way to score political points without having to do the critical spade work necessary to rebuild the party. As the GOP’s much-derided recent budget submission (which continues the party’s mantra of tax cuts, good; government spending, bad) demonstrates, there is still significant work to be done.