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September 23, 2009

The Last Word on Glenn Beck's Obama-Better-Than-McCain Comment

Doctor Zero nails it.

First of all, commenters who cautioned CBS is cutting this for maximum impact; you don't know the context were right. There wasn't any verbal context to save the remark. But there was a lot of non-verbal context. If you watch the clip in full, as Doc Zero says, it's pretty clear 1, Beck is just thinking of this statement even as he says it, 2, he's laughing as he realizes it's provocative and also, maybe, he's pretty unsure of it.

In other words, he's a guy paid to say whatever pops into his mind for three hours at a time, the more provocative, the better, and that's what he did here. A thought popped into his head; he said it.

It doesn't seem to me that this is a thought-out remark or a manifesto. It seems like an idle, interesting thought that drifted into his head, and, as people do, he said it.

Unless he comes out with a well-deliberated restatement and elaboration on the comment, it seems harmless enough. And it doesn't seem to have any larger meaning. People spout off; I sure do. And besides -- as commenters correctly noted -- this was something that was said in anger, frustration, and other states of agitation sixty-eight bazillion times by every other conservative on the planet.

I doubt you could fill a single-subject school notebook with the names of conservatives who didn't say this frustration and out of spite at one time or another. McCain was a lousy candidate, one of the worst we've ever fielded, and just about every conservative in America was befuddled at how, of all the flawed-but-attractive alternatives (including the almost-completely unflawed Fred Thompson) we ended up with perhaps the worst of all candidates.

As an aside, we were all (well, not all: Like eight people supported McCain) so upset by this bizarre state of affairs that we spent an entire month after the election blaming each other's stupidity for allowing this to happen.

So, again, in that context: No big deal. He tossed out an interesting idea. Interesting, primarily, because it was dumb. That is what people do, especially people paid to be interesting above all else. Interesting and dumb trumps boring and right.

Doc Zero also notes that Beck may just be doing the "hey I'm a centrist" act that O'Reilly does:

He might have been looking to stake out some unique, independent ground, in the manner of his Fox associate Bill O’Reilly, who awakens every morning to discover the center of the political universe is planted squarely between his toes.

Of course, O'Reilly seems to be somewhat more plausible on that, as it has dawned on many of us that yes, O'Reilly is playing the pander-about-how-wonderfully-independent-you-are game as usual, but seriously, he doesn't seem to be any kind of principled conservative. He's really a populist who's instincts put him on the left and right on different issues. He tends to be a social con, yes, but on economic issues and on global warming, he's often on the left, because his real politics is just about attacking "the fatcats" to "look out for the folks."

Anyway, Doc Zero then goes on to address Beck's point as if seriously intended (which he doubts), and demolishes it.

Yes, McCain was bad. Yes, McCain would have opposed conservatives on many issues. (I don't say "sell out" because -- give this to McCain -- it's not as if he really tried very hard to deceive us he was ever on his side.)

But just to name one issue, one huge issue: He doesn't care about or really understand economics, so he would not have embarked upon some grand scheme of remaking the country's economics; he would have pursued SOP establishment GOP "crisis economics" of a small (compared to Obama's) stimulus that was heavy on tax cuts and lighter on direct spending.

And he would not have funded every Democratic pet project in a massive trillion dollar bill.

McCain absolutely loathes pork. He talks about pork so much because it's an affront to his sense of integrity and it's one of the few things conservatives agree with him on. And he talks about it because, while he doesn't really understand economics, he grasps pork as a moral issue, an issue of personal honor, which is his primary prism through which he views the world.

So: Stimulus? No. Not like Obama. Sure, a stimulus -- the GOP was generally in favor of some stimulus; a stimulus is an example of "crisis economics," when all politicians succumb to the notion that whether they are helping things or not, they must be perceived as doing something, anything, to help. So absolutely, he would have supported some stimulus, as every other GOP candidate (except Ron -- I mean Doctor -- Paul) would have.

What he argued for on the Senate floor is pretty much what he would have championed. Something like $400 billion, with a bit less than half directed towards tax cuts, some aid to states, and some targeted spending.

Right there is he is different and is better than Obama. Even if you think that McCain's stimulus still would have been bad, you can't really argue it wouldn't have at least been better.

And on foreign policy? Ask Honduras, Afghanistan, Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the murdered protesters in Teheran about that.


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posted by Ace at 01:31 PM

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