Glenn Beck seems to be feeling sorry for himself for having brought down a brickload of opprobrium -- and fleeing advertisers -- for having called President Obama a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people".
So he brought on the big guns to defend his teary-eyed self: Rush Limbaugh. No black hole emerged from the critical mass of so much wingnuttery on one program, but it did produce a yawning maw of first-tier fearmongering, colored with a garish streak of self-pity.
Beck started off the festivities with a brief reference to his, ah, persecution at hands of liberal blue meanies:
Beck: Oh sure, they're tearing me apart -- but none of the facts! Write what you learn on this show down. Write these questions down and demand answers.
Because it's not my America we're talking about here. It's all of ours -- left, right, Democrat, Republican -- all of our freedom of speech is on the ropes. And questioning your government is not only important, it is -- in a democratic republic, which I think we still have, it is required of you. Freedom of speech is under attack.
Then came on the Big Man himself, who declared Beck heroic for bearing up under siege from those liberal meanies, who want to "silence" right-wing talkers like themselves:
Limbaugh: This whole administration is as radical and far left as any that the country has ever had. And what they're trying to do here to communications is simply stifle dissenting voices. They're trying to wipe out any opposition. If you look at Barack Obama and his track record as a politician, it is to clear the playing field. He doesn't even like debating his opponents. He just wants to get rid of them.
Thus inspired to new depths, Beck then unleashes one of his patented paranoid fantasies about how somebody from the right is going to do something ugly and give the Obamabots the excuse to "seize power overnight":
Beck: If you watch MSNBC, I contend that you will see the future. Because they are laying the ground for a horrible event that will be -- eh, what they're laying the ground for, anything from the right, they're -- some awful event -- and I fear this government, this administration, has so much framework already prepared that they will seize power overnight before anybody even gives it a second thought!
Hmmmm. Yeah, it'll be the fault of those darn liberals at MSNBC -- and not right-wing fearmongers like Beck and Limbaugh who are constantly frothing up mindless hysteria about Obama and the Democrats -- who will be responsible when some right-wing extremist blows up another federal building. Right.
Limbaugh, in response, saves the best for last:
Limbaugh: I'm really -- you know, we may be looking at Barack Obama destroying the Democrat Party. It's too soon to say that now, but we may be looking at that happen. There are reasons for optimism, but you are right, it is a dangerous time. It's the most dangerous time in my life for freedom and liberty in this country.
Beck: I will tell you, um, a lot of people would say, 'Well, that's Rush Limbaugh, he's, you know, this is hyperbole, etc. etc.' Would you agree with me, Rush, that this is not -- this is not conservatives or Republicans or independents talking about this, because they don't like Rush -- uh, they don't like, um, Barack Obama. These are Americans -- I'm an American, I'm speaking to you as an American -- this is bad for anyone unless you're in the power circle. You don't want to go down this road with what they're proposing with the FCC.
Limbaugh: No -- well, I don't want to go down the road with anything they're proposing on anything, Glenn. And it's -- but you ask an interesting question. You know, are people going to react to you or me, because, 'Well, that's hyperbole,' that's what these guys do.
I, uh, my first hour yesterday was chronicling how this man is systematically dismantling our ability to gather intelligence to protect ourselves against an attack. He is purposely using his Attorney General to make the United States the villain of the world.
And I'm gonna tell you, folks. From the bottom of my heart, I am uncomfortable thinking and saying these things about a man who's been elected president of the United States. It is terribly upsetting and disconcerting, and I wish I didn't think it, and I wish I didn't have to say it.
But, there's no way to sugar-coat it: This is not politics as usual. This is not left vs. right. This is not Republican vs. Democrat. This is statism, totalitarianism, versus freedom.
And if these people are allowed to go where they want to go unchecked, then some people, a lot of people -- I don't think half the country, but close -- will wake up one day and find, 'My God, what the hell happened?' Because this is not what they voted for, they had no intention of this. They thought they were getting something entirely different. And it is, uh, it's a responsibility that we all have, being honest and earnest, to inform people of what these possibilities are, because they are very real.
Sigh. Doesn't anyone else find it kind of peculiar that right-wingers -- and these two in particular -- not only avidly don the garb of victimhood after making light of actual victims on a professional and regular basis, but also are unable to actually name any "freedoms" that Obama is actually taking away?
In the two most common instances cited -- Beck's old fave, guns, and his current fave, the FCC and the "Fairness Doctrine" -- there have been no actual policy changes even submitted or discussed so far. In other words, they're scaring up boogie men out of thin air.
This includes the wailing and teeth-gnashing over the ostensible efforts to "silence" them. Just Lather. Rinse. Repeat:
This is a familiar refrain that comes up every time anyone raises a socially damning issue like this one: We're trying to oppress them, to silence their voices, by pointing out how morally and ethically bankrupt they are.
Actually, we're just pointing out how bankrupt they are. No one here has said anything about silencing their voices -- we just want them to face up to the consequences of their irresponsible rhetoric. It's called culpability: They obviously are not criminally culpable, nor likely even civilly culpable. But they are morally and ethically culpable.
We do have serious differences of opinion here. We strongly believe that there's a clear, common-sense connection between the paranoiac fearmongering that has passed for right-wing rhetoric since well before Obama's election (and has become acute since) and violence like that in Pittsburgh, or in Knoxville: horrifying tragedies, in which the sources of the criminal's unambiguous motives are that very same hysterical fearmongering -- whether it's about the evil socialists, stinking immigrants, or conspiring gun-grabbers who've taken over the country since Election Day.
... The point is not to silence the people saying these things, but to point out how grotesquely irresponsible they are -- in the hopes that they will cease doing so, and start acting responsibly. It's their choice to use irresponsible rhetoric. It's not just our choice but our duty, as responsible citizens, to stand up and speak out about it.
And make no mistake: Rhetoric that whips up irrational fears among the public, that demonizes and dehumanizes and scapegoats -- that's irresponsible rhetoric. And we are calling the American Right on it.