Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Glenn Beck, Performer and Provocateur

By Alan Caruba

I watched Glenn Beck mesmerize the audience at the CPAC meeting that had begun so well with serious conservative speakers such as former Vice President Dick Cheney. However, it ended as a libertarian fun fest and Beck strikes me as the clown prince of libertarianism.

I find it beneficial when a conservative can demonstrate a sense of humor as he or she discusses the great issues of our day, but I also find it uncomfortable when someone like Ann Coulter presents a “speech” that is more a series of one-liners than a coherent examination of current events.

Watching Coulter forever adjusting her long tresses behind one ear or the other makes me a little crazy because she does it non-stop. Like Beck, she constantly skates between being a serious commentator and a contestant in a state beauty contest.

Beck is, above all, a performer. He made his bones on talk radio, migrated for a while to CNN, and then to Fox News where he is enormously popular. His manner is that of the smart kid in high school who secretly wishes he was the captain of the football team, but has to settle for being able to keep the other kids laughing because he can devilishly imitate Mr. Brown, the math teacher, to perfection.

He’s all googly-eyes and deep sighs. He’s in near constant motion even when he is seated. Every time he starts to choke up and/or tear up, I want him to man up.

He tells us, too, that he was formerly an alcoholic, was once totally broke, and only attended one class for one semester of college. Give him credit for rising above all that, but remember, too, that his primary talent in life is to sit behind a radio microphone or stand in front of a television camera and “perform.”

His specialty these days is to expose the slimy characters surrounding President Obama and that is almost too easy to do. I give him credit for doing what the mainstream press has failed to do from the day Obama, an unknown Illinois Senator, announced he was running to be President after having barely begun his first term in office.

Talk about “audacity”! Obama had written two memoirs before the age of 45, nobody knew who he was and there was literally no paper trail to say where he was born, what schools he attended, etc! But he could deliver a heck of a speech.

Beck, too, is a skilled speaker. On a purely personal level, it gives me the creeps to hear his greeting at the beginning of each show, “Hello, America”, as if all of America was waiting for him to explain communism, capitalism, and the issues that many others are also explaining on air and in print.

His on-air personality is more akin to a tent-show evangelist skillfully working up the crowd to a frenzy so that they will find salvation. I have been to those tent revivals and they are great entertainment, but as a character in the movie, “Elmer Gantry”, says, “I have been saved many times” meaning he has relapsed and attended such meetings many times.

Beck’s followers get to attend five days a week with repeats on the weekends.

Who, though, am I to argue with the enormous popularity of Beck’s books or the sold-out performances of his shows? My problem is that the late great comedian, George Carlin, also sold out entire theatres and wrote a number of bestselling books. But Carlin never pretended to be anything other than a comedian.

Beck turned the final day of CPAC into an orgy of accusations in which Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, and everybody else were to blame for the terrible state of the nation. In this deeply conservative event, Beck determined that everyone was the problem. In that, he was and is deeply mistaken.

The nearly million people who showed up in Washington, D.C. on September 12, 2009 to protest Obamacare are not the problem. They were the cure. There are plans for another march on Washington and this time it will be to demand that Barack Hussein Obama quit. That’s right. They will demand he resign!

That is so quintessentially American you just want to cheer!

I only occasionally watch Glenn Beck these days. He's on during my dinner time.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


MJ said...

Beck is a very entertaining guy but his schtick has grown tiresome. I find myself watching less and less.

J. Montgomery said...

At least you give him credit for: "what the mainstream press has failed to do...". 20 years ago Geraldo or 60 minutes would be doing this kind of expose'em television. Now, it's only glenn that provides the depth that truth seekers are craving ... hannity, levine, rush all just skim the surface. GB researches and exposes for all to see.

Glenn does not pretend to be something that he is not.. the CPAC knew what they were getting and the he delivered it. I credit GB with kicking off the tea party movement which evolved out of his 912'ers claims. It's NO coincident that the tea parties were launched 3 months after he showed up on Fox.

WES said...

I watch Beck every day. I find that his show is one of the few,and many cases the only show, where corruption is being consistantly exposed.

His antics were at first very entertaining and I know they are a little childish and yes, they are getting old, but he does get the points across to millions that would never watch a dry and boring news show.

There would be no 9/12'ers or any Tea party movement if it wasn't for Beck. It was he who encouraged his millions of watchers and radio listeners to organize and start little meetings and suggested the principles on which it should all be based.

Beck is not running for President, nor would he. As Rush is fond of saying when people suggested he run, "He couldn't stand the pay cut.

His speeches are both entertaining and informative and let's face it, he has a near perfect track record of being right.

TexasFred said...

Alan, all I can say is AMEN Brother...

I have felt that Beck was a few sandwiches shy of a picnic on several occasions...

When he is ON, he is really ON, when he's off he's like someone suffering ADHD that's off his meds...

Carolyn said...

Hi Mr. Caruba. I don't have cable so I don't get any TV other than local stuff (I rarely watch tv anyway) but I do like to listen to Beck on the radio. Yes, he is hyperbolic a lot of the time, but he does bring up good points that Hannity and others don't touch on. I also like listening because of the humor. I, being Canadian, love humor, and yes, even the sick twisted kind. I am finding that I have to laugh more at the craziness of our government and politics or I'd go mad. I was always one to latch onto the things that I believe in, and take the rest with a grain of salt. Rush is my favorite, and Levin, but again, I never really thought of any of these men as anything but entertaining with some (in the case of Levin- lots) of common sense thrown in. Thank you Mr. Caruba, for more common sense to come to every day! God Bless!

Alan Caruba said...

Carolyn, I like Rush, too, but can only take about 15-20 minutes at the beginning of his show.

As for TV, I mostly read at night if I am not too tired.

Mijadedios said...

you couldn't have said it better. I fell under the Beck spell for a time. But I'm in recovery now--from his 'Crazytown USA' talk and all the rest of it. He'd get me so aggitated and freaked out.On top that he'd be on such an emotional roller coaster all the time.I came to realize that as a Christian he berated Christian callers,belittled their 'prayers' for him as an admitted Mormon, and he lacked all of the fruits of the Spirit in Gal.5. Conversely I actually prayed about whether or not I should stop listening to him. It was an obsession. Three hours of his radio show, and an hour on tv.I paid heed to him more than my own God! My faith confirmed to me that Beck has nothing to offer by way of salvation and also by way of his SupraPatriotism that is really a constant bait and switch for his next show-concert-book-rally-or whatever gimmick he can come with. So, I took the plunge and detoxed for a month.When I heard him again he sounded like a crazy person which confirmed my reasons for quitting him! Anyone up for a Support group on those who've survived his irrationality! Nah, there are too many Glenn Beck worshipers right now. I'll be waiting...thanks for the article!

Mijadedios said...

oh and Wes...You can find the same and MORE information on your own. GB is not really 'fresh' and new. There are many patriots out there who do their own honest research and are willing to put their stuff on the line for truth. GB, with all his fin.resources should have access to more info (and he probably does) but he won't tell because he's on MSM-he's being told what to say don't ever doubt that. Shalom

Ron H. said...

I agree with Wes. Yes, Beck is a clown, but he is right about many things. He exposes a lot of corruption, and isn't afraid to call people out for lying. In today's show he pointed out a flagrant Obama lie about his association with Acorn. Aren't video and the internet great? very little stays hidden anymore.

In any case, anyone who advocates a return to the Constitution and small government can't be all bad.

bobredpath said...

Where else can you get in-depth information about the people with whom Obama has surrounded himself? Beck has provided a great service by exposing the likes of Van Jones, Cass Sunstein, and the rest of O's hidden inner circle. And who else is connecting the dots about the direction O is taking this country - that is, straight into the ground at supersonic speed. Entertaining shtick? Sometimes silly, sometimes over-the-top? Of course! That's what keeps people watching. He's a constitutionalist, and points out how very far we have strayed from the constitution that was enacted 225+ years ago. People aren't getting this kind of information in the government's Progressive school system (by design!), so I think this is a great way to get the message out. Also, my Progressive friends and relatives absolutely hate him, but can never point out where he's wrong in what he presents. That tells me Beck is on the right track!!

ytba said...

Alan is not alone in thinking Beck is a clown, and an apparently dangerous one, as well.