Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thoughts on Glenn Beck and "Restoring Honor"

Just got back to the house in DC from several hours on the Mall at the Glenn Beck camp revival known as "Restoring Honor." It was a bizarre experience. Quite aside from all else that's been said about it, the one thing that struck me was how amateurish and random the whole production was.

Like Glenn Beck himself, the event was a real hodgepodge of conflicting ideas and images that didn't really mesh naturally together. The main two elements were celebrations of religion and homages to the military. Mixed into this stew was an overlay of praise for MLK Jr. and calls for honoring our iconic national heroes -- Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln et al. Several of the speakers had some real difficulty staying coherent.

The audience's attention often lagged. The crowd showed the most enthusiasm for Palin and Beck, as should probably have been expected. It was an overtly political group -- Tea Party t-shirts, GOP buttons and stickers, various pieces of anti-Obama apparel -- and I think that many of them were looking for some more red meat from the speakers.

Editor emerita Emily Esfahani Smith and I roamed around for quite some time beforehand, taking pictures and talking to attendees. Many came from quite far away -- a ton of Alabamans, lots of Texas flags, lots of people from Missouri, Kansas, even further west. Quite a number of families, lots of vets, and a big share of retirees. People were tame and good-natured. They were also overwhelmingly white.

Beck was a total self-parody. Taking on the mien of an evangelist minister, he whipped himself into a self-righteous frenzy, often seeming like he was on the verge of tears. His rhetoric wonderfully mirrored that other paragon of ego, Barack Obama. Several times, Beck uttered direct paraphrases of "we are the ones we've been waiting for." It was fatuous, but doubtless completely sincere. He suggested throughout the event that God had instructed him and his PR team what they needed to do in order to pull off the "Restoring Honor" rally. He also credited "divine intervention" with supplying $600,000 in needed funding to save the event at the last minute. I'm sure.

The speaker who most managed to add a touch of class to the rally was baseball star Albert Pujols, who distinguished himself with a speech that was mercifully quick and (rare for the day) not exceedingly self-referential. Pujols offered his thanks for the opportunities he's had in his life, and then discussed his philanthropic work for Down's Syndrome children in his home country of the Dominican Republic. He told the crowd that "we should never forget where we come from."

Excepting Pujols, however, it was almost uniformly an exercise in demagoguery and outright silliness. Beck made hallowed national symbols -- the monuments, the Gettysburg Address -- feel like cheap devices for Beckophilia. His pleas for national unity and for lowering the political temperature in America rang hollow. This is the same man who has called President Obama a racist, and who has helped stir the pot of international controversy over what should be a neighborhood issue: Park51, aka the Ground Zero Mosque.

He's hardly the successor to MLK that he fancies himself as. Matter of fact, Beck is little more than a two-bit charlatan with an unfortunately large following. I wish there could have been a very different event today at the site of King's epic "I Have a Dream" speech. Instead, we got the self-infatuated celebration of a very small man.


Anonymous said...

Dear Charlie,
First, some house-keeping. I have left multiple messages for you on the Dartmouth Review voice mail, none of which have been returned. This was over a period of weeks during the spring of this year. Time to wander around the Beck Rally and make random mostly negative comments about it, but you don't seem to have time to return phone calls or respond to attempted e mails. Why would that be?
As far as Beck is concerned, maybe we can give him some credit for at least sticking to the Hippocratic Oath, "to help; or at least do no harm." What do you write about things that are well done, beautifully choreographed and presented, but wrong and destructive? Say, like most of what the official Republican Party has signed off on as far as government destructiveness of the United States, obstruction, intrusion and explosive bloat and all of what the Democratic party and its' allies promote everyday.
Beck is saying get out there and do something about what is wrong in your neighborhood and country. Go do something that is right, whatever that might be. I don't care for Beck as Beck because he is far too self absorbed but I commend him for standing up and exposing the origins and the historical results of the ideas that motivate the President and his administration. Anita Dunne is a communist, Van Jones is a communist, lots of others in the Obama administration are communists and socialists and Beck has told the story about them...not at his rally, but it is what he does and that is helpful and does no harm...or does it? "Tons of Alabamans" Yours is a poorly thought out, small picture
review with malice towards Beck and the people of the crowd that showed up.

Anonymous said...

Your knowledge of the Ground Zero Mosque as an issue is off the rails. The reason the Mosque has gotten as far as it has is through national government interference. The State Department is paying for both the Imam Rauf and his wife to travel to the mideast to raise funds for the Mosque. The "developer" has had lots of run-ins with the judicial system and was a waiter just a few years ago. He has no visible means of support and the "project" has $18,000 dollars in funding for an over $100 million project. The Imam and the developer misrepresented their case to the New York City board, saying that they owned the entire property they were going to develop when they owned less than half of it and no one on the board either checked or perhaps wanted to check. It is obvious that Mayor Bloomberg, who bought himself a third term by changing the term limit rules for himself, favors the building. It is obvious that the people of New York and the nation are against it and with the powers that be, both national and local officials supporting it and looking the other way when the developers lie about it and pushing the project and funding it that it IS NOT A LOCAL ISSUE. It would be a good idea if you knew what you were writing about now and then.

Anonymous said...

Beck and the others are entertainers first. To the extent that they are political, they are after the low IQ vote. It's enough to make old-time Republicans vote for Democrats. But they know that.

Anonymous said...

Beck and the others are consistent in their philosophical approach. That makes them generally either consistently right or wrong, entertainers that are wrong get low ratings and go off of the air. That would be Air America and all of those losers and the entire staffs of MSNBC and CNN. Entertainers who are right get great big ratings and get rich, now who would that be? Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, O'Reilly, Ingraham, Levin, Savage, Boortz, etc. etc. etc. and they write books that are number one best sellers. Low IQ people are always reading books aren't they, that's how they got so dumb. The Annenberg School of Communication at Penn did a study on Rush Limbaughs audience and found it was the richest, most educated, most informed of any news audience in the country. Low IQ compared to what? Old-time Republicans like the ones who voted for Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan? Or old-time Republicans like the ones who voted for the Bushes, Nixon, Ford and Bob Dole? The Democrats are going to take a historic pasting two months from tomorrow. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

1) Charles's post is entirely correct. Until the ideological haze on the Right coalesces into something coherent beyond vague religious slogans and a hypocritical commitment to "fiscal conservatism", the Democrats will, unfortunately, carry everywhere but the deepest of the Deep South. America can't get back to its nonexistent "Christian roots", can it?

2) I can't believe that the people who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque are the same ones thumping their Constitutions in lieu of Bibles. Yeah, let's bring a million futile lawsuits against Obamacare based on a narrow reading of the Commerce Clause (not that either an average Beck fan or a US Democratic Senator knows anything about the many SCOTUS cases delineating the powers of the Commerce Clause, but that's another story)... but NO WAY can we have Muslims have a community center blocks away from the WTC site! The actual text of the Constitution be damned, Muslims' freedom of religion is second to that of REAL AMERICANS! Morons.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats are going to wonder if they still have a party on November 2. They are running full speed into a historic loss which will be repeated in 2012 and 2016 at which point the party will officially cease to exist. No party that can nominate Barack Obama for President, the furthest left Senator in history, 26 senators to the left of Teddy Kennedy, three to the left of the avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, two to the left of his Vice President, speaking of morons, Joe Biden and one spot to the left of Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, can continue as a major party after being exposed as the full blown American Nightmare Party.

Anonymous said...

A narrow reading of the Commerce Clause is that it wasn't meant to force people to buy things that the government demands that you buy? Give me all of the citations of cases where the Federal government forced people to buy things under penalty of law? And you are calling others morons?

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Anonymous said...

Have the writers at the Dartmouth Review just gone off of their feed? All touchy-feely diversity, sustainable, civil trash? There is a completely different take on Beck's gathering at National Review online...maybe Charlie and Emeritus were too busy being distressed by the origins of the crowd to notice what was really going on. Could it be? After reading the National Review piece, it seems more than likely.

Anonymous said...

"Tame, white people." What is this? Beck let out his zoo onto the Mall? "Tame, white people." Animal terminology used on regular American people. I'd say this characterization is racist.

Anonymous said...

Oh that Glenn Beck and his yahoos of unwashed America!!! And these courageous Dartmouth Review editors in chief actually rabbled among the rousers and pious and tame white people. It was just too far a climb down from their Ivy League perches, they puked their guts out from the altitude change but came back to the House in DC to report the wacky goings on to those who were panting in anticipation of their incomprehension of the gathering. Well who could understand a few hundred thousand Americans getting together with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin anyway. P Diddy, maybe, these two jokers, no, sorry. It may be years before Charlie understands that Americans, real ones, actually believe in honor, country, faith and doing right, or maybe not at all. He and Emeritus have been taught that they are in the ruling class and everyone else.....isn't.

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