District of Corruption

Glenn Beck: The Lunatic Shill

Richard Spencer’s discussion of the neoconservative gestalt popping out of Glenn Beck’s program puts a number of things in perspective. For several years now I’ve been hearing Beck’s tirades courtesy of my wife, who tunes in on his attacks on the Obama administration. While listening to Beck in recent months, while trying to work on the internet, I found myself heartily agreeing with his characterization of Woodrow Wilson as “undoubtedly our worst president.” I also thought that the briefs Beck presented against Wilson and FDR as the creators of morphing managerial states and as bellicose inciters of hate against “undemocratic” minorities showed some independent judgment. In fact I began to wonder how a network as thoroughly controlled as FOX by neocon money and GOP influence could allow this alcoholic-turned-Mormon to go on railing against their authorized heroes. Surely Kristol, Krauthammer, Barnes, O’Reilly, Hannity, etc. could not agree with what he was saying, beyond his ritualistic invectives against Democratic spending habits!

But Richard explains quite convincingly how Beck is on the same page with his sponsors. It is not by accident that he brings on to his program almost exclusively neoconservative guests, like the pseudo-historian and passionate advocate of anti-discrimination legislation, Jonah Goldberg. Beck’s neoconservative pals provide the proper context for his remarks, which are typically aimed at safe targets. These include spendthrift Democrats and long-dead Progressives, who supposedly paved the way for the current Democratic administration.

Beck never points out that both national parties happily accept a government vastly larger and more intrusive than any regime that the Progressives advocated. The GOP, moreover, assisted the Democrats in creating such an expanding welfare-therapeutic state. It is also painfully obvious that the Republicans are not likely to cut this bloated bureaucracy in any critical way, judging by their past performance in national politics. I’d be delighted to know exactly what Beck and Goldberg plan to abolish or rescind in their war against our “fascistic” legacy. How about the Civil Rights Act or the American with Disabilities Act? Perhaps Beck and Goldberg would like to dismantle the Department of Education or put on the road to extinction the ADA? If they are for such daring endeavors, it would come as a total surprise.

Richard is also on to something in noticing the exuberant groveling before minorities to which Beck has grown accustomed. Whether making fictitious discoveries about black founders and black civic leaders in the early American Republic or celebrating Martin Luther King as the fount of American religious wisdom, one can count on Beck imitating a second-rate professor of black studies. Made-up black achievements flow from his lips, like the cascading Niagra River as it reaches the falls.

Although such performances may make Beck feel virtuous, they are inexpressibly infantile. Does Beck honestly believe that his confabulations would cause blacks to vote Republican? The GOP has been losing the black vote steadily since it embarked on its groveling campaign. If Beck’s noise has any value, it might be to reassure his neocon patrons that he shares their unqualified support for the civil rights revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. This revolution, taken together with its feminist, Latino, and gay legal repercussions, did far more to put the government on our backs than anything that Teddy Roosevelt or Martin Heidegger (who is another one of Beck’s villains) might have done. One might hope that a supposed advocate of small, decentralized government would address these transformations of the 1960s.

A promise: I shall gladly revise my negative judgment, which Richard helped confirm, if and when Beck brings on his program members of the non-authorized Right. It will not do simply to invite on more screamers against Obama’s inflationary policies or the discoverers of long-hidden links between Progressives and Democrats (but not between Progressives and Republicans). Unless Beck starts engaging “sensitive” issues, of the kind that Rand Paul recently broached, it will be clear that he is nothing more than what I think he is, a particularly hysterical shill for the usual suspects.