Allow me to set the record straight right off the bat. Glenn Beck is, at times, absolutely nuts. The segment with the eyes, the segment about the FEMA camps with the Nazi video backdrops, the crying. Those were completely crazy. But damnit if they weren't entertaining. Glenn Beck in general is just flat-out entertaining. And given that his ratings are challenging entrenched Fox News stars like O'Reilly and Hannity, I'm not the only one who thinks so. I don't actually even watch his show that much, but it's popular enough that I'm familiar with his segments via online postings of Youtube clips almost every day, and I catch it every now and then. I've even posted a couple times around his clips myself, including what I consider to be a fantastic video about the inflationary tactics of the Federal Reserve, and another great discussion that Beck had with Ron Paul about where the G20 was going to go from a monetary standpoint. The latter was over a month in advance of multiple major countries pitching a worldwide fiat currency, just as they had discussed.
Unfortunately, Beck's aforementioned crazier segments are what are garnering all the attention. The Left is setting him up as the poster child for the insane, militant Right, by focusing on his comparison of the FEMA camps to what happened in Nazi Germany, not to mention his discussion with Chuck Norris about joining him in Texas should Texas choose to secede from the country. These are easy pickings for the likes of, well, just about anyone. What I find disturbing, however, is not so much the Left's attacking and ridiculing of Beck. Beck, essentially, is the Right's answer to Keith Olbermann, after all. The Right has had years now to ridicule Olbermann and his inane buffoonery, all the while scratching its collective head as to how in the hell anyone on the Left could possible find him even remotely watchable. Now the Right has Beck, and the Left has the opportunity to revel in the same kind of finger pointing and ridicule. What I find disturbing, then, is that so many key members of the Right, reporters and bloggers alike, seem to be horrified by the turn that is taking place with Beck seemingly at the helm.
Both Rick Moran, and Charles at Little Green Footballs cite an article by Michael Cohen at Politico entitled "Extremist Rhetoric Wont' Rebuild GOP" in their respective lamentings over the populist surge of support for Glenn Beck that is currently taking place. Moran, in his usually fantastic style, wonders where he stands in the conservative movement as he recognizes the reality of the fact that the Left's populist outrage over the past eight years has infected the Right as well:
By listening or watching Beck, people know that like minded patriots are experiencing the same fears and frustrations that they are, making those who tune in part of a community. We saw this exact same phenomena during the Bush years with the left and the widespread belief in a draft; in “another 9/11″ in order to cancel the election of both 2006 and 2008; in the almost weekly “We’re going to invade Iran” rumors; and, of course, the usual black helicopter and FEMA camp nonsense. Hofstadter was right. The “First Party System” - where the party out of power believes the other party will destroy the country - is alive and well in America.Interestingly, Moran also finds himself out of sorts with the populism surrounding other high level spokepeople for the Right, with whom he lumps Beck:
I am losing contact with those conservatives who find Beck anything more than a clown - and an irrational one at that. Same goes for those who worship at the altar of Rush, Hannity, Coulter, and the whole cotton candy conservative crowd. I can’t take those people seriously. The fact that they are popular mystifies me. Our heroes 20 years ago were Reagan, Buckley, Fitzpatrick, Kirk, Goldwater, Anderson, and others who didn’t see conservatism as a meal ticket but as something to think about, to write about and contemplate man’s place in the world and his relationship to government and God.Stuff like this is why Rick Moran is one of the best. But I find it strange that he would find himself unable to take Beck, Rush, Hannity or Coulter seriously. Beck has been a little crazy at times, to be sure, and Coulter is as antagonistic as it gets. But they are both people that are cogent in their arguments, and intelligent in debating the issues at hand, even if they are showpeople about it. I'll admit I don't much enjoy Hannity as there's too much stringent religion in him for my liking. I wonder if perhaps Moran has listened to Rush lately, though, as I think he's been fantastic in attempting to re-clarify what Conservatism is supposed to be, while dodging the notion that he should be considered the "leader of the Republican Party." I think Rush, in particular, has been trying to guide people back to recognizing Conservatism as exactly what Moran envisioned it to be when looking up to the likes of Reagan and Goldwater.
But the topic here isn't Rush, it's Beck, or, more importantly, the perception that there is a swelling of crazy people on the Right that are following him. Charles at LGF summed up his feelings about Beck fairly succinctly:
This turn toward the extreme right on the part of Fox News is troubling, and will achieve nothing in the long run except further marginalization of the GOP—unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.The problem with this viewpoint, however is that it is a man burying his head in his hands in embarrassment over the mocking, pointed finger of ridicule of the Left. This viewpoint assumes that Beck is the leader of a populist swell of people searching for a voice promoting Liberty, Freedom, Small Government and the values of our Founding Fathers. Glenn Beck, however, is no more the leader of a populist movement on the Right, than Keith Olbermann was the leader of a populist movement on the Left over the past eight years.
Glenn Beck is a television star. He may throw some things out there that many people consider crazy or stupid from time to time, but that's his job. He needs to get ratings, and he gets them. To assume that people are latching on to some of his more outlandish segments as gospel is to insult the intelligence of the general populace of the Right overall. Conservatives and Libertarians love Freedom. Conservatives and Libertarians love Liberty. Conservatives and Libertarians want Small Government. Glenn Beck is delivering a message of all three in an easily accessbile format, and therefore he is popular.
Michael Cohen's article, which both Charles and Rick Moran leaned on, provides the important message:
Republicans need to make a decision: Are they going to cater to the paranoid fears of self-styled “truth tellers” like Beck, or are they going to present a substantive policy alternative to Democratic rule? For the good of the party, and the country, let’s hope it’s the latter.Because Beck is popular, does not mean that he is popular as a crank, or as a paranoid "truth teller." Those of us that are of a Right leaning need to recognize this, and need to explain this to the mockers on the Left. We understand he's way out there from time to time, but it's the core message that's important. And that core message, for the good of the country, and for the good of the Republican Party, is very simple:
Freedom is Popular.
Liberty is Popular.
These ideas are neither Extreme, or Radical.