There really isn't more shameless a huckster working the snake-oil circuits of cable punditry these days than Glenn Beck. He embodies the worst of right-wing talking-head traits: obsessively wrong, compulsively stupid, reflexively mendacious, and always, always, shamelessly opportunistic.
He never misses a trick. Especially the 9/11 tragedy. He's managed to turn it into a big annual right-wing nutfest, particularly with this year's debut of the 9/12 teabaggers protest, a project Beck launched some six months ago.
On Friday, he devoted a long monologue to weeping, once again, before his national audience, and gnashing his teeth and doing that Glenn Beck schtick.
Not, mind you, in memory of the victims.
No, what ticks Glenn off is that we haven't built a new building to replace it yet.
Moreover, he manages to lay the blame for the delays -- which are in fact less than meets the eye* -- not on the usual kinds of delays that happen with massive construction projects, but on liberals in Congress and political correctness, or something like that.
Beck: I believe the only reason we haven't built it isn't because of Americans. It's because we are being held back. And who is holding us back? Politicians! Special interest groups! Political correctness! You name it. Everybody but you!
Beck doesn't bother to explain what the hell he means because, with his audience, it doesn't matter. They could care less about facts, it's the gut reaction that counts on Planet Beck. Besides, he's quickly off paranoiding out over the "1 World Trade Center" name ("One ... World. Ohhh. Isn't that great?") anyway.
Likewise, Beck's attempt to make 9/12 into a day of right-wing protest is just so much right-wing agitprop. Remember the mission statement at the project's website:
The 912 project is designed to bring us all back to the place we were on Sept. 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with red states, blue states or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created.
Yep. Because cheap symbolism and fake sentimentalism are the real glue that binds hucksters like Glenn Beck to our national hindquarters.
This isn't the first time Beck has abducted 9/11 and its aftermath for his own personal use. Remember the time he tearily praised one of the 9/11 widows who had passed away in a plane crash.
Of course, all this is in stark contrast to what he said abut these same families in 2005:
Beck: You know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9/11 victims' families. It took me about a year. Um, and I had such compassion for them and I really, you know, I wanted to help them, and I was behind -- let's give them money, let's get them started, and all of this stuff. And I really didn't -- all the 3,000 victims' families, I don't hate all of them, I hate about, probably about ten of them. But when I see 9/11 victim family, you know, on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh, shut up.' I'm so sick of them. Because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them. And again, it's only about ten.
In fact, Beck likes using 9/11 as his own political prop so well, he'd apparently love to have another one.
At least, that's what we had to conclude from the time Beck had on Michael Scheuer, who announced that our only hope was to suffer another big terrorist attack:
Scheuer: The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States. Because it's going to take a grass-roots, bottom-up pressure. Because these politicians prize their office, prize the praise of the media and the Europeans. It's an absurd situation again. Only Osama can execute an attack which will force Americans to demand that their government protect them effectively, consistently, and with as much violence as necessary.
Did Beck respond as any decent human being would: "What??!!! Are you out of your mind??!! How could you hope for that??!!"
Er, no. Here's what Beck actually said:
Beck: Which is why, I was thinking this weekend, if I were him, that would be the last thing I would do right now.
Oooh, that's a heavy thinker there. Not to mention disgusting manipulator.
*FWIW, the facts about 1 World Trade Center are: It is in fact being built according to plan, and while beset by the usual construction delays, is on schedule.
Comparisons to the Empire State Building are especially inapt, considering that it isn't even close to either this size or this kind of structure, and pales comparatively as an engineering feat.
The building is already some 185 feet high -- though only 105 of those are showing, since the first phase of the construction entailed some eighty feet of structure below street level.
But the project has reached a slow-motion phase in which twenty-four massive columns weighing 70 tons each -- made singly at a factory in Luxembourg, the only one of its size capable of such a feat -- but forming the foundation for the very sort of structure that is as impervious to attack as the one Glenn Beck fantasizes he would build if he were dictator of the world. It's a critical step, but one that doesn't show a lot of progress up top.
Still, once these columns are in place, then much of the skyscraper-building work can proceed apace. Indeed, by this time next year, there probably will be a reasonably high-rising skeletal structure -- for which, no doubt, Beck will take credit.
All this underscores how, for guys like Beck who probably never put in an honest day's hard labor in their lives, the hard work of building a worthy replacement for the Twin Towers isn't something you can just wave your arms about and wish it could be done like the old days. It's hard work and difficult, and Beck's dissing of the strides made so far only underscores how little respect he has for the people doing the work.