Inevitable: NYT pans Glenn Beck's comedy tour

The Common Sense show was light on the histrionics and explicit doomsday talk that have attracted viewers to Mr. Beck’s Fox show and drawn condemnation from liberal commentators (though he did slip in a reference to thinking the unthinkable). There were no tears. Perhaps Mr. Beck dialed things back because the show is largely a promotional vehicle for his new book, “Glenn Beck’s Common Sense,” which he hawked from the stage and which was advertised relentlessly during that 15-minute break. There’s some cognitive dissonance there: one of his big applause lines, which is also one of his few clearly stated points, is “we need to stop spending.” On everything except Glenn Beck’s books and DVD’s, apparently…

One of Mr. Beck’s favorite rhetorical tactics is a combination of misdirection and guilt by association: he doesn’t say nasty things about ethnic minorities or homosexuals, but he will slip in a reference to how all our cars will soon be built by undocumented workers, and he will, in a long, lame anecdote about “liberal” artists and the Metropolitan Museum, switch into a high, lisping voice for just a second. Mr. Beck’s appeals to racial solidarity are delivered in the same winking way: speaking of the “grand, magnificent” founding fathers, he leans toward his visibly homogeneous Midwestern audience and says “and we’ve lost touch with how much like us they were.”

That comes in the show’s somewhat bizarre second half, a paean to, among other things, the spirit of ‘76, Paul Revere, Ronald Reagan and that great American Henry Ford. Mr. Beck manages at one point to link, in a deniable way, Woodrow Wilson and Joseph Goebbels, who, he says, learned everything he knew about propaganda from the United States. The Nazi propaganda minister might as well have learned it from Mr. Beck, who employs the word “they” like a club without ever saying who “they” are.