Certainly, such factually-dyslexic conservative hype merchants as Republican Party leaders Sarah Palin and Limbaugh, along with others such as O'Reilly, and Hannity, talk a lot of the same hot-button conservative smack heard from Beck, but unlike Beck, with many of the others, somehow one gets the feeling that there is a certain degree of pretense involved. Learned revolutionaries, they are not, but, sheer ignorance plays only a bit part in their strident promotion of many of the more outre aspects of conservative ideals. What they are is market-driven. They know just how far to rock the boat and to what level of extreme should be avoided to prevent its capsizing and jeopardizing the conservative "brand" as a whole.
Thus, the bottom line motivation for the brassy fervor with which they brandish their conservative cred is the seemingly limitless potential for personal enrichment. Most of those who inhabit the conservative realm -- from slick, culturally-focused "new media" conservatives to the traditional, fiscally-driven rabble-rousers of the old school -- realize that the fires of right-wing identity politics pay the bills, but they also understand that those fires need to be properly fanned.
Therefore, it would hardly surprise me to learn that all of the Limbaughs and O'Reillys out there stumping the conservative grind privately consider Glenn Beck to be a tad unsettling if only for the fact that he may be just delusional enough to actually begin to believe a lot of the twisted psycho-linguistics that engulf his "teachings." They may well view him from within the prism of his openly-acknowledged suicidal tendencies; as a vainglorious time bomb; a jittery, insecure, pompous powder keg of a figure in search of some form of martyrdom -- either political or clinical -- who therefore needs to be kept at arm's length of that fire. They might be unsure about whether Beck's tumultuous, tear-provoking morality and his whole fetish for the Constitution shtick is just artlessly purposeful affectation; but they have to know that a major slice of the angst is real. Real enough to render Beck subject to the delusion that any social upheaval originating from his crusade to "take back America" and "restore" its honor is justified by the squint-eyes gleam produced by the unvarnished morality of his cause.
If so, Beck's steadily-mushrooming megalomania could spoil it for all those who shill the mainstream conservative line if he winds up essentially hijacking the ideological gravy train on which professional conservatives now comfortably ride. Die-hard curators of mainstream conservative dogma might view the premise of Beck's fringe demagoguery as a dangerous, philosophically reckless ends justifies the means formulation. The problem however, is that this potential danger holds little sway among Beck's dauntingly, starry-eyed disciples; including those who may have bore witness to their savior's prior admissions of personal struggles against "demons" of moral ambiguity.
"We all have our inner demons," Beck acknowledged in 2006. "I for one; I can't speak for you, but I'm on the verge of a moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show,"
Apparently, Beck's American Gothic persona of a faith-enshrouded homespun defender of American cultural fundamentalism aligns well with the psyche of the kind of Americans who look at President Obama and see a dead ringer for someone like jailed former Liberian President Charles Taylor, a scoundrel who'd earn a spot on anyone's short list of the corrupt, illegitimate, often anti-American Third World strongmen. Therefore of course they are aghast; left with rationalizing that the electorate's choice for president in 2008 was less an expression of the will of the people as it was an unpatriotic affront to the honor of this great nation. For them, it will take someone like Glenn Beck to restore that honor. And given the bizarre nature of his current and past behavior, it may be easy to conclude that Beck has always sensed -- or perhaps maybe even needed to believe -- that he was right all along; that out of all others, he is indeed "The One;" the charismatic most worthy of the righteous hallelujahs of the entire conservative base. From that perspective, it seems safe to assume that the thousands upon thousands whom Beck found not only willing, but anxious to abide his demand for a pilgrimage to the National Mall became his affirmation of this sense.
Consequently, as evidenced by the clamorous wake-up call linked to his success in drawing so many from across the country to his Restoring Honor rally -- an event that has been described as "a tent revival crossed with a pep rally intertwined with a history lecture married to a U.S.O. telethon" -- it's hard to deny that today, Glenn Beck is nothing short of America's foremost male demagogue (we all know who owns that distinction from among the opposite sex). It's difficult to imagine any of Beck's high profile counterparts like Limbaugh, O'Reilly, or Sean Hannity drawing that many people to a political rally in Washington D.C. on a late-summer weekend even if they pulled a Beck move by promoting it as a largely religious event.
Which is why, despite the many high profile rallies and events at which Beck was either the headliner or in some other significant way involved, his Restoring Honor gig has to be seen as his true coming out party. It's obvious that the addiction to adulation is a significant passageway in the maze of conflicting issues -- for example, the idea of a Mormon deigning to lead a vast brigade consisting largely of Christian nationalists -- which must be navigated to finally reach the unadulterated core of Glenn Beck. If so, the sheer numbers of people who showed up -- crowd estimates ranged from a seemingly low 87,000 to Beck's own estimate of 500,000 -- is sufficient to provide Beck a major adulatory rush. But like all addicts, that rush is only a temporary fix. Knowing this provides encouragement to anyone who has predicted that Beck's head will one day explode in a Howard Beale-like meltdown, to just sit back and wait for signs of the inevitable. As it turned out, Beck compulsions prevented him from waiting for his cue. The first discordant note in that familiar chorus of narcissistic behaviors often exhibited by those sucked into the mythology of their own deceitfully contrived imagery was in fact, delivered before the rally even had a chance to conclude.
"I went to the National Archives," claimed Beck at one point, "and I held the first inaugural address written in his own hand by George Washington."
As many now know, that claim by Beck is as authentic as O'Reilly's earth-shattering brain-fart about winning a Peabody Award or Fox News Channel's annoyingly diffident "fair and balanced" swagger. As it turns out, Beck did in fact, manage to access a tour of the Archives during which he was able to view the artifact. But it's been well-reported that Archive policy prohibits public handling of historical documents including Washington's Inaugural Address, a policy that was not waived on Beck's behalf.
Tear-jerk conservative - I do whatever the little voices tell me to do
Just what, one might ask, would drive such a demonstratively pious provocateur of "restoring honor" to spit out such a bald-faced lie before thousands of presumably Internet-savvy disciples? But it wouldn't take long to figure out that the answer most likely relates to Beck's exploitation of what is perhaps the first principle in any book of rules for anybody wishing to finesse the sale of anything; to understand the nature of your followers. Beck is not only mindful of his disciples' dim awareness of the fact that truth is not a word to be viewed as an automatic synonym for fact, but is himself astutely aware of their willingness to subjugate their own independent thought. He is beguilingly savvy to their eagerness to accept the statements of their saviors as unquestionably true and therefore factual regardless of what might be later uncovered on the Web. But in this case, what really spiked the numbers on the Bald-Face-Lie-o-Meter's reading of Beck's doozy was that it came in conjunction with his incessant urging -- on the same platform --to politicians to "just tell the truth."
Beck's "look-you-dead-in-your-eyes" audaciousness of his claim indicates that if perception truly is reality, then it is not just Beck's followers who are in need of a perception overhaul. The delusional fraudulence that steeps Beck's concept of who he is -- which feeds his preoccupation with engendering a sanctified view of his role in delivering America from its enemies within -- would indicate that in his mind, any statement Beck makes, including the obvious lies, have their origin in God's honest truth. After all, it was Beck himself who tearfully fretted: "I'm turning into a freakin' televangelist" during a fit of pathos-saturated histrionics on his television show a while back.
Going for the gold
The $2 million that Fox News Channel paid Beck to host his television show provided a relatively insignificant supplement to the reported $32 million he earned in total last year. His five year, $50 million contract for his radio show, for example, garnered Beck an additional $10 million last year. The rest was generated via publishing deals ($13 million); web-based ventures ($4 million); and tours and speaking engagements ($3 million). His annual salary for his radio program roughly mirrors his ratings numbers within that segment of the media. At roughly 9 million listeners per week, Beck's radio show currently holds steady as the third highest rated talk show in America; only Rush's (15 million weekly) and Hannity's (14 million weekly) radio shows' ratings are higher.