Oh look, Glenn Beck said something outlandish to gain attention for himself.
“If you have a big government progressive, or a big government progressive in Obama… ask yourself this, Tea Party: is it about Obama’s race? Because that’s what it appears to be to me. If you’re against him but you’re for this guy [Gingrich], it must be about race. I mean, what else is it? It’s the policies that matter.”
Glenn Beck is like a lot of not very smart people who dabble in philosophy and history. He’s read a couple of Ronald Pestritto books and now he reduces everything to the same paradigm. Everyone who deviates slightly from Beck’s brand of conservatism is just a re-incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt.
Now is Beck completely off about Newt? No, as I’ve said before, Newt is a conservative technocrat, which is really no kind of conservative at all. But to state categorically that there is NO difference whatsoever between Obama and Newt, and to indicate that any conservative who supports the latter over the former is a racist, means that you should not be taken seriously.
And that leads me to a couple of general comments about conservative critics of Newt Gingrich. First, stop acting like the man is a closet Bolshevik. Many of you have made fine points about Gingrich’s less than conservative instincts. But not to content to make subtle points, you choose the headline grabbing THIS GOES TO 11 hyperbole that only weakens your argument. Second, if Newt is so terrible please indicate which of the other candidates you prefer. I can understand the establishment pundits looking to engage in intellectual jujitsu in order to weaken Gingrich in favor of Mittens, but what is the aim of conservative pundits? If you actively support Perry or Santorum or even Bachmann, fine. All of the above are certainly more conservative than Newt, and in the case of the guys named Rick are also much better candidates. But then you have to make the case for those candidates and not simply the case against Newt. Because if you’re not crazy about those candidates either, then you simply come off as a purist crank who won’t be content until the re-animated corpse of Ronald Reagan emerges as the front-runner.
I remain fairly ambivalent about Glenn Beck (an ambivalence that got me involved in a heated debate on this very site, but that’s another matter). His style, especially on television, just doesn’t appeal to me. He also seems to believe that having the dial turned to 11 is the only way to get his point across. That said, I am appreciative of his efforts to teach American history to his audience. He’s had some excellent academic guests like Ronald Pestritto on his show, and he has an appreciation of some of the nuances of American political thought that go over a lot of other heads.
Then I saw this, and I’m ready to grab the pitchforks. From the product description:
Adapting a selection of these essential essays—pseudonymously authored by the now well-documented triumvirate of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay—for a contemporary audience, Glenn Beck has had them reworked into “modern” English so as to be thoroughly accessible to anyone seeking a better understanding of the Founding Fathers’ intent and meaning when laying the groundwork of our government. Beck provides his own illuminating commentary and annotations and, for a number of the essays, has brought together the viewpoints of both liberal and conservative historians and scholars, making this a fair and insightful perspective on the historical works that remain the primary source for interpreting Constitutional law and the rights of American citizens.
So it’s the New American Bible for the Federalist Papers. I wonder if Bishop Trautman consulted on this project.
Just as the average person can probably handle such mysterious words as “ineffable,” I’m sure that most Americans can pretty much figure out what’s going on with the Federalist Papers without Glenn Beck re-translating it for us. Yes, there are no doubt some tricky words in the 500+ pages and 85 essays, but that’s what footnotes are for. Annotated versions of the Federalist Papers already exist, and those should suffice for Beck’s purposes. Besides, part of the joy of the Federalist Papers is reading Madison and Hamilton’s beautiful prose.
Jeff Goldstein elaborates further on why this is problematic.
On the one hand, we’re supposed to believe that anyone can read and understand the Constitution — meaning, we don’t need a special priesthood to interpret the thing (and of course, this is true, assuming a base level of reading comprehension and intelligence, and assuming one can get past the fact that the document itself is like, over a hundred years old!); and yet at the same time, the Federalist Papers, we’re to understand today, are so arcane and abstruse and unintelligible that they aren’t even being taught anymore — a problem happily solved by Beck’s latest offering, a book that rewrites the Federalist Papers using modern language, which can be yours for only however many dollars (through the website, blah blah blah).
I agree with Jeff that this sends a very poorly thought out mixed message. In fact Beck is playing into the hands of those who criticize the concept of originalism. He’s conceding that the language of this era is difficult for people to comprehend, so the only way to make these writings more widely accessible is to completely re-write them. It is a contradiction that I doubt Beck has thoughtfully considered.
I’m on record as not being a member of the Glenn Beck fan club. I don’t like his overly emotive mannerisms, his politics, or his theology. I’d rather the president of my alma mater was more circumspect in praising him, and I’ve written to the university to that effect. At the same time, I’m somewhat fascinated by the accounts of his rally in DC this past weekend. For instance, here is David Weigel (erstwhile Washington Post reporter and Journolist member) reporting on the event:
“It’s about as angry as a Teletubbies episode….The Democrats who pre-butted Beck’s rally by predicting an overtly political hateananny were played for suckers. They didn’t pay attention to Beck’s “Founder Fridays” episodes on Fox, his high-selling speaking tour, or his schmaltzy children’s book The Christmas Sweater. It’s not his blackboard that makes him popular. It’s the total package he sells: membership in a corny, righteous, Mormonism-approved-by-John Hagee cultural family. The anger is what the media focus on, he says, joking several times about what “the press” will do to twist his words.
Beck’s rally ends just as he said it would—without incident, political or otherwise. He’s just taken the world’s most derided TV audience, put them in the National Mall, and presided over the world’s largest megachurch. “Bring out the bagpipes,” he says. Bagpipe players then walk onto his stage, and the sound of “Amazing Grace” fills the mall.
Rank and File Conservatives & The Conservative Intelligentsia United In Outrage Over Mosque Near Ground Zero, Not So With Same-Sex Marriage
The proposed mosque set to be built near Ground Zero, site of the September 11, 2001 attacks has brought a sweeping condemnation from both rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia. Now that President Barack Obama has weighed in the matter, seemingly supporting the effort, one can only imagine how this will be used in the fall elections. However, a rift has appeared to have been opened concerning the views of the rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia following the ruling of Judge Vaughn Walker over same-sex marriage. Many of the conservative intelligentsia, along with the establishment wing of the Republican Party has either been silent or voiced the view that the wished the whole gay marriage issue would simply go away. This has led to bewilderment from some conservative voices.
The best Catholic tie in with the efforts to build a mosque on Ground Zero came from the famed conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is Jewish. In his opposition to the mosque being built near Ground Zero, he correctly pointed out that Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns, who were living right next to Auschwitz, to move closer to a nearby town, since the site had become a rallying point for Jewish identity. Krauthammer correctly pointed out that Christians had been murdered there too and the nuns were doing the heroic deed of praying for the souls of those who were viciously murdered. However, Krauthammer pointed out that the late Polish pontiff felt that it created the wrong perception.
Salvete TAC readers!
Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:
1. On ABC’s “This Week” this past Sunday Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post accused Glenn Beck of “inciting the American people” to commit violence against Obama by talking about “people being slaughtered.”
Here is Glenn Beck’s response from last night:
I am allergic to political cable tv shows, talk radio, and nightly news. I cannot watch or listen to these programs for longer than fifteen minutes without subjecting anyone within earshot to a lengthy rant. And so I won’t pretend to be deeply familiar with Glenn Beck’s work. Instead, I’ll rely on Joe Carter at First Things:
There isn’t much I could add to the criticisms—from the left, right, and center—that have been made against him in the last few weeks. His recent comments have shown that he’s a naked opportunist who will say anything to get attention: If he’s on his television show on Fox he’ll pander to the audience by saying that President Obama is a racist who is ushering in an age of socialism, if not the apocalypse; then, when he is in front of Katie Couric and CBS News, he says that John McCain would have been worse for the country than Obama (which begs the question, “What exactly is worse than the socialist/communist/fascist apocalypse?”).