The Wages of Beck
There are many on the right who make the argument that clowns like Glenn Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, and their ilk are, if not entertaining and usually right about Obama and the liberals, basically harmless. “No one believes they are ‘leaders” of the conservative movement,” goes part of the argument. The left wants to choose our leaders for us and define them while the MSM takes every nutty thing they say out of context. Besides, they “tell it like it is” about Obama — something the gutless GOP refuses to do.
There’s more along these lines but the gist is simple; these Cotton Candy Conservatives “tell the truth” about Obama and the liberals which is why the left is frantic to portray them as unbalanced lunatics, unhinged from objective reality, and dangerous to boot. If they weren’t effective, the left wouldn’t care about them.
As is common with the temper of the times, liberals do indeed exaggerate some of what these nincompoops utter on a daily basis. But to be honest, it’s a target rich environment. I’ve tried this myself so I know it can be done: I challenge anyone (with a reasonable hold on the real world) to click on Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Glenn Beck, Randy Savage, or a half dozen other talk show hosts anywhere in the middle of their programs – it doesn’t matter – and not be blown away by the rank stupidity, the exaggeration, the hyperbole, the laughable idiocy of what they are talking about.
These people couldn’t find reality if it were stapled to their ass.
They are so far removed from reasonable, logical analysis that it begs the question: If Obama and the liberals are as bad, as unholy, as evil as they say, what are they doing sitting in a sound studio spouting about it? If the United States of America is truly in as much danger as Beck and his buds tell us every day, why not “water the tree of liberty” with a little blood? Where’s the revolution, guys? And you call yourselves “patriots?” Your nation is slipping into socialism and all you can do is rant about it?
Get off you fat butt Rush, pick up a gun, and help save us from this fate! C’mon, Glenn! You gathered a couple of hundred thousand citizens to engage in a little spiritual renewal. Why not send out a call for a real march on Washington – armed to the teeth and ready for bear.
“Don’t retreat, reload” indeed. What a load of crap. It appears you would much rather perform the latter rather than the former. Those Founders you talk about incessantly “pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to give us a nation of liberty. What have you pledged except an increase in ad rates for your programs due to the phenomenal success you have in scaring the crap out of the bullet-headed cretins who listen every day to your unbalanced rants?
I’m calling you out for your cowardice. If things are truly as bad as you all say — if we are all doomed to a socialist/Marxist hell with government putting their foot on our necks, snatching our freedom from us, what in the name of our sainted ancestors are you doing sitting on the sidelines? The colonies went to war against the most powerful army and navy the world had seen to that point with a lot less provocation than you screech at your listeners every day, and the best you can do is ask people to get involved in a tea party?
If Obama is truly “trying to destroy America” you’re just going to sit there and do nothing while he does it? If you don’t have the stones to fight, why not use your celebrity and notoriety to call for revolution?
This is the exact same argument I used when loony lefties were screaming about “Bush the dictator.” If you truly believed that Bush was out to “shred the constitution,” what kind of American are you that you’d sit passively and do nothing to prevent it? The same over the top divorced from reality rhetoric, hyperbole, exaggerated warnings of danger, was coming from the left during the 8 years of the Bush administration that we now see transferred to the right with only changes in the principle’s names to differentiate this idiocy from what transpired previously.
More importantly, what are the real world consequences of this flight from objective reality? We get chilling crap like this:
A constituent at a town hall for Georgia Rep. Paul Broun drew laughter on Tuesday when asked, “Who is going to shoot Obama?” and the Republican didn’t come anywhere near condemning the question in his response.
“The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president,” Broun said, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. “We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president … who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
The congressmen is also a couple of shakes short of a finished martini:
Last month, Broun live-tweeted Obama’s State of the Union address and drew criticism for one in particular. “Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution,” he wrote. “You believe in socialism.”
On the day after the speech, Broun told CBS News, “I stick by that tweet.”
“Everything he does is bigger government, more central control from Washington, D.C. That’s not what our founding fathers envisioned the government to be,” he said. “Mr. Obama believes in a big central government, where the federal government controls everything in our lives. That’s socialism. And so I stick by that tweet.”
You go ahead and “stick by that tweet,” Mr. Broun. It is a nice segue into explaining the danger that Beck et.al. represent to the republic generally, and conservatism particularly.
The nitwit who asked who was going to shoot Obama is only carrying the message being imparted by the Cotton Candy Conservatives to its logical extreme; things are so bad with the people in power that we must kill them or we are lost. It’s true that none of the talk show hosts or conservative celebrities have advocated committing acts of violence directly. They don’t have to. By painting such a bleak, hopeless, frightening picture of the near future under Obama and the Democrats, their listeners are programmed to feel helpless and small. The psychological impact is predictable. When the actions of Obama and the liberals are placed in such apocalyptic terms, the extreme solution begins to sound eminently practical and reasonable. Why not kill the bastard? If it will save America, that’s a small price to pay.
Peter Wehner on Beck specifically, but what he writes could apply to any of them:
It’s hard to tell how much of what Beck says is sincere and how much is for show. Whatever the case, and even taking into account the entire MSNBC lineup, Glenn Beck has become the most disturbing personality on cable television. One cannot watch him for any length of time without being struck by his affinity for conspiracies and for portraying himself as the great decoder of events. Political movements are not just wrong; they are infiltrated by a web of malevolent forces. Others see the shadows on the wall; Beck alone sees the men casting them. The danger when one paints the world in such conspiratorial terms is that it devalues the rational side of politics. It encourages a cast of mind that looks to expose enemies rather than to engage in arguments. Few things, after all, are as they appear.
Beyond that, of course, is the sense of impending doom, of the coming Apocalypse, of our world being on the edge of calamity. If taken seriously, this has the effect of creating fear, hopelessness, and feelings of helplessness.
It’s not the Cotton Candy Conservative’s “eliminationist rhetoric,” or goo-goo brained conspiracy mongering that’s a threat. It’s that people take their flights of fancy seriously enough that the fantastical can appear real; that what strikes normal people as balderdash is taken to heart by millions and millions of otherwise sane individuals.
That fellow who wondered who would shoot Obama is probably a nice guy, someone you’d never suspect of harboring such thoughts if you bumped into him at a party or other social situation. It’s that his view of objective reality has been so warped by the Becks of the world that they are willing to believe almost anything bad about anybody he is told to hate.
Asking a majority of conservatives to marginalize or denounce these purveyors of faux nightmares is futile. For many, it is a question of looking at the results of Obama’s policies and asking the simple minded question, “What else could it be but that he wants to destroy the country?” In other words, it’s not Obama’s wrongheaded policies that are the problem, but rather his obvious evil intent to inflict the results of those policies on the rest of us. From there, it’s a short distance to believing that the deliberate destruction of our economy and country have a dark and evil purpose; the president is a Marxist, or socialist, or a Mooooslim, and the horrible results we see of his policies are part of a nefarious plan to subjugate all of us.
For others, however, Beck and his cohorts cannot be denounced because they further careers, rouse the right to give money, volunteer for campaigns, and most importantly, vote. That ‘s why so many GOP congressmen and senators refuse to say the Birthers are a bunch of loons, or that Limbaugh is a blowhard. The Cotton Candy Conservatives are just too valuable to the establishment to push too far away.
I don’t know what can be done. But I know that in perilous times, it doesn’t help conservatism to have such high profile fantasists purporting to give a conservative take on the world around them – especially when what they are promoting is a world view at odds with reality.