Glenn Beck's Amazing Circular Dog Whistle
Every day, Glenn Beck gets a little more shrill and a little more weird. Yesterday, his show was interrupted for President Obama's statement on Libya, which gave him even more grist for his mill. But don't write him off as a lunatic. He is one of the most calculating and dangerous blowhards ever to grace our airwaves.
This clip comes shortly after President Obama's statement on Libya. No matter whether one is conservative or liberal, Libya is a complicated situation with many ramifications. It's true that we want to be on the side of the true proponents of a democracy there, and everyone agrees that Qaddafi is an evil despot who is not going to go without leaving death, destruction and havoc in his wake.
But if you're Glenn Beck, you somehow twist this up in order to make President Obama look like a subversive rebel with a deep love of revolution. He rants about how the administration has not made public statements about Iran or Libya and those brave young fighters for democracy. He holds those freedom fighters up as heroes and martyrs, then turns right around and damns protesters in Wisconsin as agitators out to wreck the country.
The only way to go there is if you understand Beck's perspective as a raging American exceptionalist who applauds freedom fighters in other countries while believing this country is perfectly fine with the oligarchs in charge.
Here's a transcript of his little rant:
He might be busy, his wife just hired a personal shopper. [evidently referring to Michelle Obama...] What are these people thinking?
Back to the rebellious kids, I guess. What's happening in Wisconsin. It's just those kids and workers, just like you. Obama was worried about the assault on the unions immediately, but not about the hippie dope radicals who are having Woodstock in the capitol, whose MO is to bring down the US AND the free market.
There are reports now of vandalism in the Wisconsin capitol and it is spreading. Is there nothing sacred?
Who are we? The world has to know what America stands for and who we are and that they can count on American principles and values. We don't know them ourselves.
We've destroyed our relationships with Great Britain and Egypt. We did that a long time ago. Now we learn that the last telephone call President Obama had with the Saudi Arabians ended in a huge disagreement. You can attack a warship and not worry about it because we're not going to do anything. Iran can send warships for the first time through the Suez Canal and the President says zero.
Who are our friends? Who are our enemies? By the way we walk, I can't tell.
We have a president who apparently loves instability and revolution. And that is the antithesis of those two words: Social Security.
Yes, Beck actually managed to tie the term (but not with the same meaning) Social Security to instability in the Middle East. He ranted like this for the entire show. But here's why he matters. He plays to the timid older people who are frightened by any change, much less the kinds of sea change we're seeing in the world right now. When he talks about revolution spreading from Egypt to Europe to this country and conflates the protests in Wisconsin with the revolution in Libya, he's appealing to the people who are terrified that a nuclear holocaust is right around the corner.
He thrives on this stuff, and so do they. It's part and parcel of the larger strategy to erode confidence and emphasize chaos in order to impose authoritarian-style politics in this country. Beck is an expert at it, and as weird and whacko as he may seem to anyone who bothers to read a newspaper, he's also singing to the hearts of the silent fearful ones.