Apparently the blogosphere is alight with the fires of the armies lining up to fight the next Battle for Conservative Purity. The subject this time is Glenn Beck, the guy who has never, ever claimed to be either a conservative or a Republican, but whose popuarity among both is undeniable. Really, the subject tends to bore me. Beck is doing good work in the trenches, on Van Jones and the ACORN scandal especially, and I’m inclined to let him continue that good work. Yes, he will occasionally go over the edge, like when he recently said in an interview that John McCain would have been a worse President for America than Barack Obama has been to this point.
His over the edge statements, though, are almost completely self-refuting. Of course John McCain wouldn’t have been worse than the guy we have now, but that’s not because he would have been good at all (in fact, he would have stunk worse than a two day-old dead skunk in high summer) but because Barack Obama is so incredibly bad. So Beck has a bit of a point, but you can’t quite see it through the hyperbole, which doesn’t mean he’s a whackadoodle. It just means he occasionally slathers on the hype more than he should.
Name me one entertainer who hasn’t gone over the top before.
Beck is taking heat from the folks I’ve started to think of as “Thurston Howell Conservatives” — you know the folks who think that you can’t speak intelligently about conservative values unless you graduated from Harvard and can beat the ghosts of Bill Buckley and Barry Goldwater in a round of Conservative Jeopardy — and from the usual suspects on the left. Those suspects include Time Magazine, who apparently have a contractual obligation with Satan to run down a conservative leader in a cover story every few months in exchange for the few subscribers they have. Their story on Beck is a jumping-off point for Stacy McCain’s column at the American Spectator. Here’s an excerpt:
Von Drehle’s invocation of “the paranoid style,” a trope that Hofstadter derived from Theodor Adorno’s “authoritarian personality,” is intended to clearly signal the reader that Beck is a kook, a conspiracy theorist, a demagogue pandering to the dangerous emotions of the ignorant mob.
You know. Nudge, nudge. Like Barry Goldwater.
That this is a very familiar sort of smear tactic does not prevent Von Drehle’s clever work from alarming Peter Wehner, a former Bush administration official who bluntly pronounced Beck “Harmful for the Conservative Movement” and proceeded to declare: “Beck seems to be a roiling mix of fear, resentment, and anger — the antithesis of Ronald Reagan.”
That Reagan was himself smeared by the journalistic predecessors of Von Drehle is evidently beyond Wehner’s scope of knowledge. If Americans had gotten their opinions of Reagan from liberal writers, the Gipper never would have been president and the victims of Soviet tyranny would still fill the gulags.
Good stuff, that. Read the whole thing.
And listen to Glenn Beck. You don’t want to miss the next outbreak of crazy, do you?