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Prediction: Glenn Beck To Run For Public Office

Reported by Guest Blogger - April 27, 2010 -

Guest blogged by Aunty Em

I’m calling it early and getting it out of the way. Remember: you read it here; the first of the Left Wing Punditocracy to announce that Glenn Beck, radio host and tee vee tea bagger; creator of 100 Year Plans, Refounder of Refounders; Misinformer of the Year (2009); the Original Nine Twelver; The Crying Comedian; and just plain dad; will run for public office in the fullness of time. He may not announce in time for 2010. He may not even come out before 2012. But, make no mistake, Beck will run for public office sooner or later. It’s the only logical conclusion based on where his shows have been going lately.

There was a time this author thought Beck was angling to start a new religion or cult. His recent Re-education Seminars came off more like a Billy Graham Old Timey Revival Meetin’, than a Tea Baggin’ Festival. Even as late as last week, it almost looked like The Profit Prophet was still pushing the idea that he is the Anointed One.

Thankfully Bob Cesca, over at the HuffPo, listens to his radio show so I don’t have to. After catching his act, Cesca called Beck a “Televangelist Con Man Selling God’s Plan for America.”

Right off the bat, there's the very recognizable televangelist delivery. You'll notice the characteristic melodrama and pathos -- the theatrical tone of voice. The pregnant pauses, the slight quiver in the voice and, as I mentioned, the artificially-enhanced resonance. These are all acting techniques we recognize from infamous televangelists like Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson -- not to mention the even more nefarious Benny Hinn faith healer school of persuasive speaking and gimmickry. ">Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart -- not to mention the even more nefarious Benny Hinn faith healer school of persuasive speaking and gimmickry.

David Edwards and Muriel Kane, at Raw Story, are on the same track* with their article Glenn Beck the Prophet: ‘God is giving me a plan.’ Quoting Keith Olbermann quoting Beck they say:

Beck recently told his audience about a conversation he had with his co-host, Pat Gray. "I said, 'I can feel it coming," Beck began. "It's darkness, and I can just feel it coming.' And I al-- I started to say -- I said, 'The problem is, is that--' and I stopped, because I don't want to utter something like this without really thinking it through. But I was about to say, 'the problem is, is that God is giving a plan, I think, to me that is not really a plan.'"

"Okay, so the plan isn't really a plan," Olbermann remarked after showing this clip.

"Does it at least tell us where to go and who to follow?'

"The plan that He would have me articulate, I think, to you," Beck continued, "is get behind Me -- and I don't mean 'me,' I mean Him. Get behind Me. Stand behind Me."

If this does not make you think of Dan Aykroyd's deadpan, “We’re on a mission from God,” then you’re not the Pop Culturist I need from my readership.

Yet, I think these learned columnists are all on the wrong track*. If The Beckinator were to try and start a new religion, or perform a hostile takeover on an existing religion, there would be derisive laughter all around. From the moment of the announcement there would be comparisons to Jim Jones and drinking the teabags, or something like that. The Revival Meetings, already oddly named, would start leaning more towards snake-handling than Constitutional literalism.

Or, maybe the fingers would point more towards Utah and Joseph Smith, Jr., or Brigham Young? If history teaches us anything, it’s that kind of thing can lead to massacres in mountain meadows.

So, religion? No. I really don’t think Beck dares go there. However, what about Politics? It’s really the only logical next step. And, we may as well take a look at our history to see what lessons it has for our future.

It’s always a fun game to find the demagogues in history that most closely resembles our Tee Vee Host Ben Gleck. Beck rejects comparisons to Father Charles Coughlin because Coughlin believed in Social Justice and Beck does not. But demagogue is as demagogue does. In all but ideology, let’s say then, they’re EXACTLY alike. However, Coughlin, being a priest, doesn’t really fit the “running for office” analogy, no matter how much Beck imitates him.

Then where should we look for our historical political demagoguery? No further than Louisiana and no farther back than the 1920s. Beck keeps reminding us how wonderful that time was, when Progressives were not in control and people were building hovels called Hoovervilles all across the nation. But the ‘20s also brought us Huey Long. More and more Beck seems to be emulating Long’s fiery rhetoric, even though Long never went in for the eliminationist thangie. If he keeps imitating Long, I believe Beck could ride a teabag right into a statehouse. While he doesn’t yet qualify, due to residency requirements, Arizona just might have the Right Kind of Crazy™ to propel The Beckinator into office.

Beck will, of course, deny any resemblance to Huey Long like he’s denied a “separated at birth” resemblance to Coughlin. And, politically, he’d be right. The Kingfish rode in on a wave of Populist anger demanding Social Justice. Long was a big supporter of FDR’s policies and often went much further in his “share the wealth” rhetoric. But that’s where the dissimilarities stop. If Beck ever runs for office, he’s given himself a big head start, because he’s following the Huey Long model of political demagoguery to a T.

If one takes a look at Beck’s projects over time, and cuts through all the verbiage, you’ll see a nascent political platform forming. What is the Nine Twelve Project? The Nine Principles and Twelve Secret Herbs and Spices are simply a moralistic personal code to live by—that you also demand everyone else live by.

The Revival Re-education Meetings are nothing more than training his political adherents in his political orthodoxy that the Constitution is divinely inspired and, therefore, immutable and must be taken literally.

And, let’s not forget the fact that Teabag Beck is the voice of Teabaggers across the nation, who are angry at something and Beck gives them something to be angry about. Every day. For four hours a day, or more.

Just last week Beck finally released “The Plan,” now being monetized at a web site and bookstore near you. Again, if you cut through the verbiage, and thoroughly discredited ideas, what you have is a political platform, even if that structure is so shaky it won’t last 100 years. It’s Social Darwinism at work, the same forces which worked against the poor and middle class back in ‘the 20s.

If we are looking to the time of Hoovervilles and Huey Long for lessons from history, there’s another example that’s just staring us in the face. The formless anger displayed at Teabag rallies these days is much like the populist rage in Louisiana in the ‘20s and the Weimar Republic between the wars. All it takes is one clever demagogue, like a Beck or a Schicklgruber, to focus that anger into a political movement, not unlike the Teabagger rallies.

In fact, last week, thin-skinned Beck spent most of his time and energy devoted to protecting the angry rhetoric at the Teabagging Festivals, but defending himself against Joe Klein’s assertion that Beck was rubbing up against sedition. Of course, non-journalist Beck misquoted Klein to say that he had been called seditious. Then Beck played the actual clip that disproved what he just said. See? Only a politician could lie with such impunity.

Want more proof Beck is running for public office and is just one step away from kissing babies? All last week, the opening monologue was presented by a Beck character that previously we’ve only seen infrequently, yet there he was on display 5 days in a row. He’s the kinder, gentler Beck starting his show beside his fake old timey tee vee, speaking in a soft rational-sounding voice—even if not everything that comes out is 100% rational.

“I want to bring you the news of the day, but I don’t want to bring you the news of the day.”

He’s just the reluctant canary in a coalmine.

On Monday (4/19/10), Beck told a bizarre story about asking his children, “Do you trust your dad?” And, because they do, his audience is supposed to. I don’t know his kids. They may just be gullible, like his audience.

With no self-awareness, his voice now dripping with hurt and pathos, Beck said, “[I’m] not trying to be divisive.”

When he pleads, “Let’s have that conversation,” in the first segment, how many connect that to his calling the Obama administration Marxists and Nazis in the following segments? That tends to be a conversation ender. As we have repeatedly noted, the “Nationalist Socialist Party” was not a left wing party, despite the coincidence of the word “socialist” in the title. Nah, comparing progressives to Nazis - that's not divisive at all.

Back to my ultimate prediction: If Beck is able to find a catchy slogan in the next few years—one that trips off the tongue as easily as “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too”—you’ll see Beck running for public office faster than you can say “voter registration.” It won’t be soon enough for me. It’s called Progressivism for a reason. Once elected to office we’ll see how quickly Beck’s political platform falls apart under the reality of thinking Americans, who will say “didn’t we leave the poor out to starve back in the ‘20s?”

With all my love,

Aunty Em

*Beck has a one track mind. Never one to throw away a perfectly good drawing on a perfectly good chalkboard, he returned to the train analogy he’s presented previously to remind us why America is on the wrong track. I think he needs to ramp this up to HO scale before he actually claims he’s got the trains running on time.