Glenn Beck’s 100-Year Plan

So we don’t have TV at home (although we did just get cool Netflix streaming movies via our PS3), so I’ve been spared the endless procession of talking heads that makes up out political commentary for most of my time.

But I do watch TV when I travel, and on one trip to the East Coast I did catch a bit of Glenn Beck. I’d turned off the volume to make a call, and left it off while I worked a bit. Beck came on with the volume still off, and I had this visceral negative reaction to him without knowing who he was or what he was talking about. I watched for a bit, saw his logo and realized who he was, and still tried to figure out my reaction.

Totally unbidden, I remembered reading Heinlein’s ‘Future History’ as a kid, and the image of America as a Christian religious dictatorship that those stories carried.

I’ve listened to Beck since then, and what he says seems to be generic Fox talking head commentary, which doesn’t usually bother me (I’m friends with some of them!). But there’s still something about the guy that seriously creeps me out. And then today reading on Memeorandum that he’s putting together a 100-year plan, the hackles did rise.

Is this anyone else’s experience? Any idea what it is?
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26 thoughts on “Glenn Beck’s 100-Year Plan”

  1. Funny, I had the same reaction to him earlier this year when I saw him on the cafeteria television. My instant reaction was, “Who is this guy?”

    A few days later, I saw him interviewing Ann Coulter, and made a point to listen long enough to figure out who he was. “Oh,” I thought. “Yeah, makes sense.”

    I predict nothing much will come of the Hundred Year Plan, other than mockery. Maybe he should try for twenty Five Year Plans.

  2. Beck looks like he knows he’s putting us on . . . but is willing to run with it as far as we’ll let him. The look that can give you the creeps with the volume turned down is charicatured on “the cover”:http://www.glennbeck.com/ of his book “Arguing with Idiots.” Part Hogan’s Heroes, part The Great Dictator.

    It strikes me that the tag line on his website “The Fusion of Entertainment and Enlightenment” is meant to provide cover for the crazy things he says. If called out he can always say “It’s only entertainment, don’t take it so seriously.” What’s creepy is that people do take it seriously…and he wants them to.

    Beck seamlessly “weaves together”:http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/33275/ really scary, socialist, Democrats, destroy, paradigm shift, Rottweilers, and revolutionary Marxists without dropping a beat and without ever fully tying up the innuendos. The smile and syntax provide deniability if challenged.

    The picture of Beck with his strong back overlooking the White House and the serious caption: “I have stopped looking for a leader to show us the way out because I have come to realize that the only one who can truly save our country…is us”, drops the smiles and the playfulness.

    Michael Laskoff at the Huffington Post is egging Beck on to run for Governor of N.Y. But Albany’s not the capitol he seems to have in mind. If he does turn politician we’ll get to see just how large a following an extreme political agenda can garner at this time. He can be our very own Milosevic riding the fringe as far and as extreme as they can carry him. It’s another reason to hope for economic recovery.

  3. I get all my stuff from the Internet. I would suggest http://www.surfthechannel.com for films and TV shows.

    Your rarely see guys like Beck out of captivity and when you do it is when you see their journalism on supermarket checkout lines.

    I saw a clip of him explaining the communist plot hatched by Rockefeller when he decided to have Art Moderne murals and reliefs on Rockefeller Center to brainwash the masses.

    Pretty scary, huh?

    Do you think we will have a TV Party primary between Beck and Dobbs?

    Delusions of Grandeur are rampant.

  4. If called out he can always say “It’s only entertainment, don’t take it so seriously.” What’s creepy is that people do take it seriously…and he wants them to.

    So he’s Jon Stewart.

    the serious caption: “I have stopped looking for a leader to show us the way out because I have come to realize that the only one who can truly save our country…is us”, drops the smiles and the playfulness.

    Oh, he’s Barack Obama (“we are the ones we’ve been waiting for”).

  5. Is it that he continuously maintains, like Limbaugh, the whiny wounded tone and posture of “oppressed white working-class guy put upon by liberals in the evil elitist media” when, as nearly as I can tell, like Rush, he’s never done much of any work other than in the media as a “personality”, and is now knocking back an income with several digits more than is paid to, say, pediatric neurosurgeons, (to pull out a pretty high stress, pretty high responsibility, pretty moral kind job off the top of my head) to say nothing of the POTUS?

  6. Bgates, your perception is Beck is shooting for humor and satire? It seems more like anger and incitement to me. Do you have an example in mind?

  7. Mark at #7

    In regard to the Jon Stewart/Glen Beck comparison, note Stewart’s comment to Tucker Carlson:

    “But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don’t ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we’re in bad shape, fellows.

    . . .

    You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.”

  8. your perception is Beck is shooting for humor and satire?

    Not in the sense I think you mean, but if he were using the pretense of being an entertainer to get cover to say outrageous stuff that would be out-of-bounds for a straight newsman, he’d be doing the same thing Jon Stewart does.

    It seems more like anger and incitement to me.

    Like when Stewart whined that Tucker Carlson was “hurting America”?

    Except that Stewart’s program is on COMEDY Central and Beck’s is on Fox NEWS, so it’s pretty clear which one wants to be taken seriously and which one doesn’t.

    I’m afraid it’s not clear to everybody. Anita Dunn, former White House Communications Director, praised the “fact-checking investigative journalism” of Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.

  9. Is it that he continuously maintains…the whiny wounded tone and posture of “oppressed guy put upon by the evil elitists” when, as nearly as I can tell, he’s never done much of any work other than as a “personality”, and is now knocking back an income with several digits more than is paid to, say, pediatric neurosurgeons, (to pull out a pretty high stress, pretty high responsibility, pretty moral kind job off the top of my head)

    Oh, so he’s Michael Moore.

  10. bgates, at #10:

    1. I don’t think Moore’s knocking down $20 million plus this year.
    2. Moore at least worked in print journalism (leftist print journalism though it may have been) Beck started out as a “morning zoo” DJ and personality. Moore may get a certain Schadenfreude from “gotcha”-ing execs, but as far as I know, hasn’t really thought that on-air jokes about someone’s “miscarriage”:http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/22/glenn_beck_two/print.html were good material.

  11. Mark – a twinkie? Oh my lands and stars, he is funny.

    My point is that anything you guys complain about Beck doing, people on the left do more. Using a facade of entertainment to get plausible deniability for outrageous statements? Stewart and Colbert do it more than Beck. A multimillionaire pretending to be a working stiff? Moore does it more than Beck.

    Of course Jon Stewart wants to be taken seriously. He’s a political partisan. There’s no shortage of targets for him among the Democrats, but he pulls his punches, because politics is more important to him than humor.

    “Moore at least worked in print journalism” – so? Congrats on finding something reprehensible Beck did. Now think real hard and I’ll bet you can come up with something Moore did you think was repugnant too. (How about lamenting that the 9/11 bombers didn’t target Bush voters?)

  12. I don’t think Moore’s knocking down $20 million plus this year.

    Going by the rules you guys are promulgating, I assume this joke of a point means you don’t want to be taken seriously.

  13. Guys, no one is getting here to anything about Beck himself; this is all generic “right commentator/left commentator stuff and as such is kinda dull…we’ve had this argument a million times and it always comes down to “we rule, you drool.”

    So let’s try and focus back on beck, please?

    Marc

  14. AL, you can’t have very high hopes for a thread when you start with, “Beck is teh suxxor, amirite?”

    I’ve seen the show a few times, and never until I found out I wasn’t supposed to because he’s on the administration’s enemies list. I’ve never liked tv news, so I don’t think I could be a regular viewer. But no, I don’t want to join your 2 minute hate, thanks.

  15. LOL – OK, I’m obviously not being clear, Beck _says_ things that people I like say (even though I may disagree with them) – but something about _him_ creeps me out. Do others see the same thing, and if so, what is it?

    Marc

  16. Mark, if you can’t see the difference between a political satirist on a comedy network and a political commentator on a news network

    The similarities between Beck and Stewart include that they’re both political partisans who comment on the events of the day using humor to try to get a large friendly audience to agree with their interpretation of the world.

    The major difference you’ve mentioned so far is that one works for an organization that has the word “Comedy” – excuse me, “COMEDY” in its name.

  17. AL, are you creeped out in the same way by anybody else? (Somebody apolitical would be helpful, since you seem convinced it’s not the politics that are the primary source of the creepiness.)

  18. I’ve not watched more than clips of him, but what I have seen suggests to me that, like Limbaugh, it’s his mannerisms are a purposefully subversive gag that his audience gets and that his critics don’t.

    Put simply, the left has a stereotype of the right-wing demagogue commentator, and they really have a burr up their ass about it.

    Beck, and the sort of people who listen to Beck, believe (and are quite likely correct) that no matter how reasonably they put forth any arguments, the left will always portray them as wingnut populist demagogue fascists.

    Their reaction is to play the part. Mug for the camera, and rub it in people’s faces. To the hilt.Play the role, lampoon the meme by feeding it, and then laugh their asses off at the scared-at-their-behavior, earnest and ever so serious lefties sputtering incoherently at them.

    It’s like hippies and squares with the roles reversed from the Sixties.

  19. _So he’s Jon Stewart_

    Except that Stewart’s program is on COMEDY Central and Beck’s is on Fox NEWS, so it’s pretty clear which one wants to be taken seriously and which one doesn’t.

  20. bgates,

    I’m not sure what your point is here. Anita Dunn’s ironic point that Fox News is less trustworthy than an admittedly fake-news show hardly demonstrates that the admittedly fake news show is trying to be taken seriously. When she mentioned that the Daily Show is on Comedy Central, I don’t think she was plugging the show. I think she was emphasizing the absurdity that a satire of a news show is able to catch a purportedly “real” news show making stuff up.

    Steward often mocks real news shows — especially Fox — simply by showing what they broadcast. He’s not pretending to be an entertainer. He _is_ an entertainer. He’s pretending to be news anchor. Everybody understands that. Dunn understands that. That’s the joke. As Murray in 1,000 Clowns said, you missed the funny part.

  21. _Is it the one that booked the former President of Pakistan as a guest?_

    Yes, Jon Stewart is the guy who had Musharraf on his show and promptly offered him a twinkie, making it pretty clear that getting laughs is his number one priority.

  22. bgates,

    I’m not complaining about Beck, and there may indeed be people on the left who do what he does. Jon Stewart just isn’t one of them. (Keith Olberman may be Beck’s equivalent.) But if you can’t see the difference between a political satirist on a comedy network and a political commentator on a news network (and it seems that you can’t) there’s little point in going any further down this particular road with you.

  23. Not really – again I don;t watch a lot of TV, so don’t have broad experience with the various personalities/ But Olberman just seems like a smug asshole, O”Reilly like a blowhard, etc. etc.

    Marc

  24. AL, my guess is that what is creepy about Beck is that he uses the mannerisms, modulations and inflections of a televangelist. At times, in such exaggerated forms as to seem like a parody. He tries to work on an emotional level but the empathy seems faked or false or just not quite hitting the right note. The bizarre pauses, the scrunched face, the appearance of spontaneity that is clearly choreographed, rather like the feigned grief of a funeral parlor director.

    Also, there’s a little of Floyd the Barber from Andy Griffith in him. I remember once, a long time ago, a comedian used to joke that if there were every any kids missing in Mayberry, it’d be wise to look in the basement of Floyd’s house. Note: I’m not suggesting Beck’s a child molester. It’s just the odd manner he has that reminds me of Floyd the barber. It’s an exaggerated calmness at certain moments that strikes a false note.

    I guess it’s just palpable phoniness.

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