Well, kiddies, that certainly didn’t take long: less than 48 hours after getting mega-new and mega-old media coverage of his own, personal Washington, DC rally to “reclaim” the civil rights movement during which he gave a speech noting how we must try to get poison out of American life, talk show money machine and aspiring America moral leader Glenn Beck has blasted President Barack Obama’s religion.
Now, let me get this straight:
Is THIS the kind of thing Martin Luther King, Jr. would have endorsed or enabled?
Even a head of cabbage in the produce department of Von’s supermarket on Adams Avenue in San Diego would shake its head and say “no.” And the jalepeno pepper next to him would shake its head and say: “Yo tambien…”
Read this post run here yesterday in which CNN’s John Avlon and yours truly were skeptical about the “new” Glenn Beck who was calling America back to principles, and unity and spirituality.
How unifying and spiritual — and how like the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr — is this?
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck voiced sharper criticism of President Obama’s religious beliefs on Sunday than he and other speakers offered from the podium of the rally Beck organized at the Lincoln Memorial a day earlier.
During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” which was filmed after Saturday’s rally, Beck claimed that Obama “is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor-and-victim.”
“People aren’t recognizing his version of Christianity,” Beck added.
So, specifically, what is Obama’s “version of Christianity?”
And now does this mean that Beck has appointed himself the validator of what is “real” Christianity or not?
Does the Pope know this yet? Perhaps the Pope can arrange an audience in Beck’s studio to find out if he lives up to Beck’s standards.
Beck’s attacks represent a continuing attempt to characterize Obama as a radical, an approach that has prompted anxiety among some Republicans, who worry that Beck’s rhetoric could backfire. The White House has all but ignored his accusations, but some Democrats have pointed to the Fox News host to portray Republicans as extreme and out of touch.
The bottom line? Only a partisan and fan of talk radio could possibly argue that Beck in any way represents anything but a centimeter of a thimbleful of what MLK represented, or is someone who is trying to bring this country divided partially by talk show polemics together.
A nice rally.
Nice stories about it.
Nice live TV coverage, sound bites and video embeds.
Interesting blog posts (including on TMV and this one).
But Beck is Beck.
Is (you get the idea…)..
And those who attended and spoke were merely extras in a movie in a set backdrop he created.
Life — and talk show and partisan demonization — go on.
Which brings to mind a certain quote from the great comedian W. C. Fields.
(See the graphic above.)
UPDATE: Here’s part of New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica’s column today on the rally, Beck’s new aspiring status, and his speech:
Wow. You rarely hear language this rousing outside of tight races for student council president.
But this is the speech about God and country that Beck says so moved him – when he was lying on the floor writing it – that he broke down in tears. Over his own words. Then Mrs. Beck got on the floor next to her husband, Beck told Chris Wallace on Sunday, and asked him what was wrong. And he said, “No, it’s what’s right.” Good times at the Beck house!
Only this wasn’t about religion on Saturday in Washington, as much as Beck aspires to be the Elmer Gantry of the Tea Party movement, with God as much his co-star Saturday as Sarah Palin.
You go back and watch his speech, and watch Palin’s, and realize this was just another made-for-TV event, a reality show masquerading as a momentous political happening. And church service: If I’m this close to God, the other side must be lined up with the Devil.
Beck hates it when people compare him to Father Charles Coughlin, the radio wingnut of the 1930s. He talks about how vastly different their politics are, and he’s right about that. But Beck is the new Coughlin in so many other ways, starting with this one: confusing the size of his crowds and the size of his audience with an actual political movement.
So did Coughlin, whose career ended badly, the way Beck’s someday will. The Michigan clergyman finally became so delusional he thought he could run a North Dakota congressman, William Lemke, for President. This was in 1936, on Coughlin’s own Union Party ticket. Coughlin had a vast radio audience in a smaller America, and predicted that Lemke would get 9 million votes. He got 900,000.
Coughlin was another showman who thought he was something more. And a champion of the little people, the way Beck says he is. Not to mention being real good with God. Yeah. That’s what they all say.
You can follow blog commentary on Beck’s comments HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.