March 18, 2009

OK, we already knew that Glenn Beck is an ignoramus about economics. Last night, in a brief guest appearance on Bill O'Reilly's show, Beck let slip that he's an ignoramus about political ideologies.

Now, we've been saying for a long time that Beck is a right-wing populist; lately, a number of other observers have reached the same conclusion.

So Beck has been making special note of being called a populist, and in his guest appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, he talked about it:

Beck: The second thing is, is that -- you know, I was called -- who was it that called me today, "a populist"? I'm not a populist! I've been saying this stuff when it was unpopular! I've got news for you: It's still pretty unpopular!

O'Reilly, who is not an ignoramus, corrected him: Populism indeed is politics built on appeals to "the people," or more precisely, "a political strategy, in which a personalistic leader seeks or exercises government power based on direct, unmediated, uninstitutionalized support from large numbers of mostly unorganized followers." However, O'Reilly is quite incorrect when he says that being a populist means "you're not an ideologue": populists often are often highly ideological, but that ideology varies according to the precise brand of populism you're playing.

In any event, populism has nothing to do with being "popular." We know that Glenn's very popular right now, but really, that's not what we're talking about, big guy.

So he's an ignoramus on both economics and political ideology. Ignorance, obviously, is no barrier for Glenn Beck when it comes to opening his yaw and emitting gaseous nostrums.

After all, this is the same guy who's been complaining that Obama is a "socialist" and a "communist" and that we're destroying America in the process. Like he has any conception what those terms mean, either.

Indeed, it makes me wonder: Beck has had on his friend Jonah Goldberg several times and has openly plumped Goldberg's Liberal Fascism as a book that everyone should read.

The major wheel of Goldberg's thesis in that book, however, is his contention that because fascism is a species of populism, it is thus by nature inherently a left-wing creature. He spends a great deal of time connecting fascism up with populism, particularly progressive populism.

Of course, as I've pointed out several times, it's a completely bogus thesis, since right-wing populism has been around almost as long as populism itself (the most obvious pre-fascist examples being Bacon's Rebellion, the Know-Nothings, and the Ku Klux Klan).

Indeed, Goldberg so completely screws up the meaning that I suppose it would be possible for someone to have read his book and still not understand what the hell a populist actually is.

Exhibit A: His buddy Beck.

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