Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Glenn Beck And The Politics Of Ridicule

Now that the commentariat has had the chance to chew over Glenn Beck’s vanity rally in DC this past Saturday, I thought I would throw in my two cents’ worth. It is little known – in fact, only I and my bewildered son are aware – that I am the preeminent Beck scholar in Milwaukee and, probably, the nation.

As much as I can stand it, I have listened to part of his radio show in the morning and watched part of his TV show at night almost every day for a year now (a period of time coinciding with the deterioration of this blog – coincidence? I think not.). I have him all figured out, which I plan to display fully in my new book coming out this fall – Glenn Beck: How Stupid Does He Think You Are? To no one’s surprise, the answer is: Very. And his lazy sheep-like listeners and Fox News zombies have not disappointed him.

The fact that Beck got a piddling 100,000 people to show up in Washington after a year of promoting his 8/28 event means nothing except to reflect his (and Sarah Palin’s) star quality among the Angry White Tea Party set. In fact, all of the astro-turf tea party events are structured around the appearance of some media star or other – it’s part of the directions the professionals at FreedomWorks put out for a successful event. In Milwaukee, a thousand people might show up to gawk at a putrid scumbag like Michelle Malkin. Maybe Milwaukee/Madison radio wingnut Vicki McKenna could get 200 to an event all by herself. Without a featured speaker with the star power created by talk-radio and Fox news, tea party “rallies” would consist of ten people with flags sticking out of their hats standing around, howling at their imaginary socialist moon.

Beck’s usual shtick on TV is to entertain his fearful white-victim audience by trying to convince them that President Obama is a Manchurian candidate, serving as a front for supposedly evil strawmen like UW professor Joel Rogers (of all people), William Ayers and all manner of supposed revolutionary, living and dead. In the weeks leading up to 8/28, he spent an incredible amount of time telling poor, dumb America that Obama’s ascendency was the fruition of a Weather Underground handbook written in 1969.

He pretends that the “proof” for his hysterical smears are outlined on the chalkboards that litter his TV sound stage, where Obama’s face is always seen in the company of dark figures and “scary” organizations like the Apollo Alliance and the Tides Foundation. He leads with his conclusions and never explains how he gets there, leaving the chalkboards as the indictments that are never read. You would think the chalkboards – or at least the substance of them – would be posted on his website so you could check out the details for yourself, since he never bothers to fully explain any of it. You would be wrong. But that’s the way smears work – allusion without proof; the illusion of substance without fact.

But, make no mistake – Beck wants you to be afraid. Very afraid. The 8/28 event was presented by him as the “last exit” off the freeway to whatever Obama Hell he pretends awaits us. “What else do your neighbors need to know?” he pleads to his audience of barricaded shut-ins. Can you imagine even one of his listeners going to the strangers next door and imploring them to “get” what Beck is selling? Beck is also after the children, the most unfortunate of which are herded into his studio every Friday to get a “history” lesson about the Founding Fathers by Beck and David Barton, a phony “historian” and actual preacher who promotes the lie that the Founders were all evangelical Christians.

As 8/28 approached, Beck – perhaps realizing that just having a giant anti-Obama tea party wasn’t going to cut it – lurched into a religious mode, attacking those of every faith who believe in the worthy concept of “social justice”. Beck urged churchgoers to confront their pastors to see if they were promoting such evil thoughts and, if so, to dump that church. He even deigned to pass judgement on Obama’s faith, saying this Sunday during his heavy-petting session with Fox News whore Chris Wallace that Obama’s reasonable belief in “collective salvation” was a “perversion” of Christianity. That’s pretty funny coming from a Mormon who believes in magic underpants and the divinity of historic grifter Joseph Smith.

On the radio, Beck is another kind of animal altogether. Before reimagining himself as a political and religious leader, Beck presided over various Zoo-Crew-type morning radio shows around the country. His radio show still has that kind of vibe – with he and his sidekicks guffawing and feigning concern over the imaginary demons of the Obama era. Even more than the TV show – where Beck is shown standing to the side of a monitor showing Obama speaking, smirking and laughing – the radio show is thick with ridicule of anything and everything Obama.

That’s the thing about the right-wing message machine – for all their talk about Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and the threat it poses to our very existence, it is they that use the percepts of it better and more consistently than anyone else. Alinsky called ridicule the “most potent weapon”, and the right has used it to make you think such substantial people as Al Gore, Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are just big jokes.

But I digress. In the end, Beck’s rally on 8/28 was a dud. Hedging his bets at the last minute, he pulled his punches and wimped out to a vague religious message that was nothing new. Not content to wrap himself up in the flag, he wrapped himself in the Shroud of Turin. In the end, he was exposed; as phony as the shroud itself.


Anonymous said...

wow you fucking luny tunes, 1,000,000+ people showed up in DC documented FACT, keep ignoring the tea party as it runs over your bewildered head jackass, as Barrett, Feingold and control of congress is ended by incoming repubulican rule come November. Tic Tock, asshole loser

Mike Plaisted said...

Great comment. Please write more.