Could Glenn Beck, another morally bankrupt non-prophet of the Right max out the conservative movement's remaining capital?
"I'm too stupid to self-edit. So I tell people exactly the way I feel." Glenn Beck
"If you take what I say as the gospel, you're an idiot." Glenn Beck
I haven't a clue as to whether or not "populist" conservative patriarchs like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly are thinking that maybe it's time they move over. But it wouldn't surprise me to find out that Father Charles Coughlin -- who's Jew-baiting, conspiracy-driven populism ruled radio airwaves during the 1930's, and P.T. Barnum, originator of the phrase: "There's a sucker born every minute" -- may be somewhere rolling over.
But regardless of the manner in which Coughlin and Barnum are spending their eternities in whatever region of the afterlife they now reside, what de facto Republican Party "boss" Limbaugh, Fox News' ever-vigilant "culture warrior," O'Reilly, and all the other big money shills of the establishment conservative movement still here on earth need to do is watch their backs. They face the growing prospect that the historical magnitude of their rabble-rousing legacies -- and perhaps more disastrous, the size of their bank accounts -- will soon be seriously diminished. What's worse, those professional legacies and that seemingly limitless earning potential could be undone by a recovering drug and alcohol addict turned garden-variety messianic, God-channeling political huckster.
In short; one of their own.
There are many reasons why the spiritually connective clarity and apocalypse now tonality to the alarm used by Glenn Beck to draw so much attention to himself should, at this point, be a source of concern, not only to Beck's detractors on the left, but also to the entire echo chamber of coin-operated right-wingers who over the years have made handsome livings as morally-disingenuous and philosophically-opportunistic "professional" conservatives.
Beck's seemingly preternatural ability to manipulate his own angst in a way simpatico with the anxiety being expressed by a large segment of a targeted political/social demographic has significantly energized the level of political activism on the Right which is expected to pay dividends in the mid-term elections. But the perhaps emotionally-unstable Beck's energy-producing formula also contains many politically explosively elements that could severely undermine what remains of the conservative movement's credibility if, along the way or at some future point, they foster significant social upheaval.
Moments of Glenn
In his book "Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance," Alexander Zaitchik spotlights some of the more ominous red flags that should serve as harbingers of the potential consequences of the Beck "doctrine" if you will an ideology that Zaitchik likens to "fascism on a picnic blanket."
"Flags, soldiers, and oaths to God, leader and country (dominate) Beck's rallies," Zaitchik wrote. "The Rally for America (held in 2003) featured speakers who made threats against the Left, echoing the threats of violence that are routinely heard on Beck's radio show. The events were a strange U.S. hybrid that combined Nurembergian expressions of power, blind allegiance to a divinely anointed leader, and TNN schmaltz."
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League last year pegged Beck as "the most important mainstream media figure who has repeatedly helped to stoke the fires of anti-government anger" and was critical of Beck for "promoting the idea that (President Barack Obama) is dangerous." Beck has put forth a seemingly endless array of turgid conspiracy theories (for example; liberals are conspiring to kill President Obama in order to take permanent control of the government) and his claims (since disavowed) of secret "FEMA concentration camps" had been frequently augmented by portentous warnings that America heads toward "socialism (and) totalitarianism beyond your wildest imagination."
But perhaps Beck's deepest moment of Glenn destiny-changer is The Plan, a presumptuous, chokingly hubristic, and supposedly God-sent 100-year codification of the "re-founding" of America and an outgrowth of an element of Christian existentialism that, over time, has steadily crept into Beck's message. It's an element which -- in the aftermath of his Restoring Honor rally in Washington, D.C. -- has probably now established a permanent threshold within the Beck doctrine's painfully convoluted philosophical mix .
In comments in a New York Times article published last year, respected conservative writer David Frum, opined that Beck's rise "is a product of the collapse of conservatism as an organized political force, and the rise of conservatism as an alienated cultural sensibility."
If Frum is correct, it would appear that the potential danger of Beck's promulgation of his doctrine's direful, potentially secessionist rhetoric to professional conservatives like Limbaugh and company, lies in the extent to which the fallout from any kind of major civil unrest resulting from this rhetoric can be tied to the broader conservative movement. The success of the Beck doctrine holds the potential for discrediting the public image of mainstream conservatism the same way the failure of the Bush doctrine de-legitimized much of what formed the basis of neo-conservative thought.
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.