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January 22, 2014

Glenn Beck: Hey Sorry I Broke The Country and Stuff

Just kidding. He's introspective and self-critical here (something our legendarily deep-thinking President appears to be incapable of) and throws, I think, too much blame on himself.

Then again, I didn't watch him much when he was in his Wild Man of TV period.

I did see him do one thing on FoxNews I really did not like. He was doing that chalkboard thing. On the chalkboard he had a map of the world. I believe the immediate topic was the unrest in Libya (which would eventually wind up being Qaddaffi's downfall).

The thing he did which I did not like is pure fearmongering without any suggested pathway through the Valley of Death. He portrayed Islam as single-mindedly seeking to impose a global caliphate on the world. Okay, there's some truth in that (at least as far as jihadi Islamist extremists).

But, on the other hand, he also railed against tinpot tyrants like Qaddaffi.

What I took away from his chalkboard lecture was that anything we did was doomed, futile, stupid, and advanced one dangerous enemy or the other.

By offering nothing more in this than fear, he just seemed to be stoking a fearful reaction in the audience. There wasn't a call, for example, to support Qaddaffi (on the odious, but sometimes true, premise that a monster we control is better than a monster we don't). There was no call to help depose him.

There was no call for anything, except to be fearful of, well, everything.

I don't think that was what Glenn Beck always did -- in fact, that sort of thing always seemed a bit out of character for him, because his general persona is one of good-humor and hopefulness. I think he does have a tendency towards Connect-the-Dot Conspiracy-Type stuff, but, you know, so does 20% of the general population and 30% of the politically-minded subpopulation.

90% of any political chatter really consists of connecting the dots between this and that. Below I got a post out of connecting Obama's "Fulfill Your Dreams" invocation to Chotiner's observations on Obama's babytalk. My point is just that dot-connecting is what politically-minded people do, day in, day out.

But I think it can be taken a bit too far. Only a genius with a Leafy Brain like Keith Olbermann can really see the lines.

But perhaps he feels guilty about Connecting the Dots of Conspiracy and Doom a few too many times, with too emotional a pitch.

He says this:

“I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language,” he said. “I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.”

I didn’t realize how really fragile the people were, I thought we were kind of more in it together,” he added. “Now I look back and I realize if we could have talked about the uniting principles a little more instead of the problems, I think I would look back on it a little more fondly. But that’s only my role.”

What does he mean by this? I could guess, but I'd probably be pilloried for my answer. Oh well, I'll guess anyway: I think he means that when people are in a dark place -- as most of us here are, in this Age of Obama -- it takes relatively little to set them off, often in ways that are both politically counter-productive as well as psychologically self-damaging.

I don't like what I've come to think of as "The Henny-Penny Stuff." The shrieking stuff. Some stuff is genuinely shriek-worthy. But most stuff isn't. The country is in such baleful shape that anyone with any sense is always, as Obama might say, poised to shriek.

But not every incidence of a provocation should trip the shriek switch. It's not healthy for the spirit and it's not useful in political mobilization.

Or maybe it's just me who thinks this.

I have Googled for a few minutes now and I see no specific reference for what it is, exactly, he means. All I see is a multiplicity of quotations of the same lines I quote above.

If any of you saw the interview, and know what he meant, specifically, let me know.

Respectability... AllenG suggests this is all about attempting to get TimeWarner and ComCast to pick up his cable channel.

That does make sense. As I understand it, Beck is sitting on what I have heard called "a mountain of money."

It is therefore likely his ambition has grown: He doesn't want to be a "rodeo clown" anymore (as he once described himself). He wants to be a Player, and that requires a certain level of restraint.

And so he could be attempting to reassure the hard progressive dickbags he has to deal with that he's every bit as capable of restraining himself as is, say, Leafy Brained Keith Olbermann, and therefore his cable channel should be aired.

If that's his goal, well, I approve. The fact of the matter is that rodeo clowns are dime a dozen; there will always be a new rodeo clown. Should a Rodeo Clown slot open up, due to the last one retiring, or moving on, or denouncing all his old beliefs and founding a company called Media Matters, there will be a new Rodeo Clown filling the slot within days.

But Players are rarer, and much more important.

So if he's attempting to sand down some of his sharper edges in order to become a Player, well, that's almost certainly good for the cause, generally.

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posted by Ace at 04:05 PM

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