It was Palin who, earlier this month came to the financially-shrewd decision to juice up the engines of her own personal September 11 gravy train when she urged Beck to co-headline an event in Alaska "commemorating" the 9/11 attacks. In addition to her work with fear and ignorance, Palin obviously knows a thing or two about ideology-marketing; after all, immediately after resigning as governor of Alaska in July 2009, she reportedly began pulling in an average of $1.5 million per month through her pageant-like promotion of conservative causes. And she was right on the money in trotting Beck out to Alaska. As it turned out, they managed to convince about 4000 devotees to join them in "mark"-eting the nine-year anniversary of the attacks at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage -- at a cost of anywhere between $74 to $225 a pop. As a bonus, their disciples were provided the opportunity to be hit up for an extra few dollars in exchange for an autograph or mug shot with their beloved leaders. Let's see, 4,000 folks times the low end ticket price raises nearly a third of a million dollars alone. Not too shabby. Just prior to the event however, the Beck camp was forced to issue a belated response to questions regarding the direction of the proceeds. The response asserted that Beck "had always intended to donate the speaking fee" to an Alaska veteran's group and also noted that Palin never intended "to receive a fee" for participating in the event.
All good intentions aside, that response nevertheless falls short of actually providing a direct answer to the question of into whose pockets the proceeds will ultimately end. It also provides no insight into Beck's interest in headlining an event "honoring" 9/11 in light of the sickening contempt he expressed just last year for the victims' families.
"You know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9/11 victims' families," Beck divulged during a September 9, 2009 broadcast of his television show. "Took me about a year. And when I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, "Oh shut up!' I'm so sick of them because they are always complaining."
I'm sure that even now, Beck hears the little voices: "Praise the Lord and break out the anti-psychotics!"
One could spend a lifetime attempting to fathom the achy Weltschmerz which seemingly runs amok within the tragic-comedic personality of Glenn Beck; to unlock the door to the innermost workings of someone for whom physical reality doesn't quite satiate the mind's demands; and to comprehend the seemingly epic struggle taking place between his id and super-ego with a depth of clarity that wards off any possibility of shock or surprise at the darker aspects of his behavior. But it takes little more than a quick glance back in history, and it can all be deciphered within a far shorter period of time. Indeed, Beck's no original. American culture has spawned well beyond her share of Fr. Coughlins; Huey Longs; Rev. Jim Bakkers; and other populist charlatans. In the course of this, she has offered a series of uniquely red-white-and blue anecdotes in support of the axiom about economic hard times bringing out a society's criminals, con-artists, and charlatans.
Certainly Beck is of this unprincipled mold; or perhaps, more specifically, of the mold of Marjoe Gortner, an evangelical whose Wikipedia entry reads in part as follows: Gortner rose to fame in the late 1940s as a child preacher, but he had simply been trained to do this by his parents and he had no personal faith. He was able to perform "miracles" and received large amounts of money in donations. After suffering a crisis of conscience, he invited a film crew to accompany him on a final preaching tour. The resulting film, "Marjoe," mixes footage of revival meetings with Gortner's explanations of how evangelists manipulate their audiences. It won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, but was never screened in the southern United States due to fears that it would cause outrage in the Bible Belt.
I'd venture to guess that both financially-motivated "professional" conservatives as well as the movement's legitimate establishment figures now concerned about the potential for long-term damage to their brand would welcome a similar "crisis of conscience" by Beck. They'd love for Beck to disown -- for the good of the cause --the extreme aspects of his strident pursuit of exaltation at any cost. But at least for now, that hope would seem scarcely more than a rapidly evaporating pipe dream.
Already, there are early signs of politically fratricidal behavior within a Republican Party now under the near complete control of the fringe element of its base. Over the past several months a cluster of establishment Republican conservatives have either been purged from, or voted out of the GOP and replaced by far-right candidates backed by local tea party groups. To mainstream conservatives, this should amount to a troubling indication of how deeply the far-right has penetrated this country's overall conservative base in large part, due to the success of Limbaugh, Palin, and perhaps most of all, Beck.
The 1st century poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) once wrote: "Time will bring to light whatever is hidden; it will cover and conceal what is now shining in splendor." Whether the collapse of the conservative movement comes to pass as a consequence of its current moth-like attraction to the perceived "shining splendor" of the Glenn Beck doctrine is something that only time will tell. However, based upon the precariousness of human nature, this possibility, if not already a foregone conclusion, should be considered too strong to ignore. If so, those with a tangible stake in the matter -- America's currency-chasing professional conservatives and the movement's true keepers of the flame -- need to step to the defense of mainstream conservatism and regain control of its image; an image that each day seems to move further toward what Zaitchik calls Beck's "common nonsense."
"I know that many in this country think that I'm a fear monger," Beck has stated. "It is not a label that I think applies. I do talk about frightening things. But I don't think the man who saw the iceberg as the Titanic was about to hit it and said, "It's an iceberg,' was a fear monger. He was warning people on the ship."
Ironically, to the conservative movement, it is Beck himself who may well turn out to be the embodiment of that iceberg.
One thing that is for sure is that time will tell. As Zaitchik pointed out in a piece in The New Republic: "There was one message that the (Restoring America rally's) emotional emcee managed to get across with unmistakable clarity: Glenn Beck is still a major force to be reckoned with, and has every intention of staying one."
Which is great news to all of those who've gained benefit from the more fear-inducing manifestations of Glenn Beck's fraud complex -- especially the fraud himself.