The Glenn Beck Supremacy

You know, ever since last spring, when Glenn Beck aired his comments about “preparing for anarchy in America,” there’s been something extraordinarily accurate about his commentaries on the Obama administration. The Van Jones resignation certainly cemented Beck’s status as the premier commentator on the contemporary right. Indeed, just last week I argued that “Beck has emerged as the cable TV’s Rush Limbaugh.”

Well, my remarks might have been clairvoyant (or someone’s reading my blog!). The Beck-Rush comparison’s picking up steam. For example, there’s a good buzz today over Time‘s new piece: “Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?” And here’s a key passage:

Beck is 45, tireless, funny, self-deprecating, a recovering alcoholic, a convert to Mormonism, a libertarian and living with ADHD. He is a gifted storyteller with a knack for stitching seemingly unrelated data points into possible conspiracies – if he believed in conspiracies, which he doesn’t, necessarily; he’s just asking questions. He’s just sayin’. In cheerful days of yore, he was a terrific host of a morning-zoo show on an FM Top 40 station. But these aren’t cheerful times. For conservatives, these are times of economic uncertainty and political weakness, and Beck has emerged as a virtuoso on the strings of their discontent. Rush Limbaugh, with his supreme self-confidence, holding forth with “half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair,” found his place as the triumphant champion of the Age of Reagan. Macho Sean Hannity captured the cocky vibe of the early Bush years, dunking the feckless liberal Alan Colmes for nightly swirlies on the Fox News Channel. Both men remain media dynamos, but it is Beck – nervous, beset, desperate – who now channels the mood of many on the right. “I’m afraid,” he has said more than once in recent months. “You should be afraid too.”

The piece describes Becks’ schtick as a combination of “entertainment and enlightenment.” And the article is surprisingly sympathetic, if not fawning. Mostly, though, it’s condescending toward conservative-libertarianism. Beck taps into real anxieties. And as these anxieties are dovetailing with truly monumental policy impacts, advocates of Beck’s scenarios are excoriated as “fringe elements” and “racists.”

What’s amazing, and this is why the Time story is significant, is how quickly Beck and others on the right – like Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit (who is cited in the article) – have had a dramatic effect on politics at the highest levels. This stuff is almost like All the President’s Men without Deep Throat. If President Obama were in turn to be impeached – not a far-fetched scenario, given the Bill Clinton presidency – commentators will no doubt “pin the blame” on “fear-mongerers” like Beck. Natually, Beck and others will be demonized for their “hatred,” while the legacy media gives a pass to the administration’s corrupt communist ties. This creates a classic feedback loop. When the press white-washes real scandals and Democratic malfeasance, the Beck-heads become even more feverishly delirious.

Anyway, Beck’s only going up right now, and note how Politico‘s Michael Calderone’s picking up on my theme of Beck’s new supremacy above. See, “Glenn Beck vs. Rush Limbaugh.”

More at Memeorandum.

Cross-posted at American Power.

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