“My role, as I see it, is to wake America up to the backsliding of principles and values and most of all of God,” he said. “We are a country of God. As I look at the problems in our country, quite honestly, I think the hot breath of destruction is breathing on our necks and to fix it politically is a figure that I don’t see anywhere.” (Glenn Beck)
This week brought news of devastating floods, erupting volcanoes, a world economy in free fall, an alarming spike in Afghanistan violence, and, of course, Tiger Woods’ divorce. And yet, at week’s end, the news is dominated by coverage of a radio talk show host’s fan club rally in Washington. Of course it wasn’t just Glenn Beck that gathered a large crowd to the nation’s capital for a series of Tea Party meets Jesus events. It was also anti-abortionist Patrick Lee, self-parody Sarah Palin, homophobic uber-Zionist John Hagee, drunk driving St. Louis Cardinal’s manager Tony LaRussa, along with an assortment of Christo-fascists, conservative rabbi’s, and right wing sycophants (Or as George W. Bush would call them: “My base, heh, heh, heh.”) How big was this story? No fewer than 5 of the 15 most-emailed stories on the New York Times website were about Beck, the Tea Party, or both. The New York Times, not the Washington Times.
NBC estimated the crowd to be around a staggering 300,000. (Other estimates were as low as 85,000.) Hell, I’d be staggering too if I had to sit through the stultifying twaddle that roused the rabble at an event alternately billed as “America’s Divine Destiny” or”Restore Honor” rally. Highlights include Lee’s admonition that public prayer would make America a better place, black belt conservative hack Chuck Norris quoting from Ben Franklin , and war worshiping Palin saying things like “Say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet, and you can’t take that away from me.”
“I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans…I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are — were recipients of the judgment of God for that…There was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades…The Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment.”(Rev. John Hagee, 2005)
And, of course, there was Beck himself, mugging for the camera, unleashing his potent repertoire of facial tics, and conjuring up brilliant bon mots like “If you look at the Washington Monument, you might notice its scars. … a quarter of the way up it changes color. Look at it. Look at its scars. How did the scar get there? They stopped building it in the Civil War. And when the war was over, they began again. No one sees the scars of the Washington Memorial, the Washington Monument; we see what it stands for.”
You like that one? Well, there’s more where that came from, Buckie: “Something beyond imagination is happening. America today begins to turn back to God.”
And yes, the whole messianic megalomania of the event, the phony humbleness of Beck (who grossed $37 million last year), the huge turn out, and Palin’s smug, tired act do annoy the crap out of me. But, as you can tell from my opening paragraphs, it was the coverage of this thing that really grates. The increasingly insufferable Keith Olbermann of MSNBC absolutely couldn’t keep his mouth shut, providing literally hours of publicity to Beck and the rally over the past several weeks. CNN’s Sunday morning “Reliable Sources” show was devoted almost entirely to the event and featured this excruciatingly inane exchange between host Howard Kurtz and Democratic party hack Bill Press:
KURTZ: Bill Press, you have been crusading against this event for weeks. Most of the talk from Glenn Beck was about God and patriotism. What did he say, if anything, that you found troubling?
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, first of all, talking about God on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. By the way, whatever the numbers were —
KURTZ: Haven’t preachers done that?
PRESS: — 200,000, or whatever, I was there yesterday. I went down there. OK?
And I’ll tell you, I thought I was at a camp meeting, an old- fashioned religious camp meeting. I don’t think that’s appropriate on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. But two things.
KURTZ: Why is it not appropriate. Let’s stick with that. Why is it not appropriate?
PRESS: Because it is a sacred spot, number one. I don’t think it should be turned over to be a political or a religious rally. It was both, in my opinion. It was political. Not that he ever mentioned the word “Obama,” but you can’t bash Obama five days a week on the radio and television and then stand up on the Sabbath and be a non-political person.
Fox News, Beck’s spiritual home, actually covered the event less than either CNN or MSNBC
and didn’t even broadcast the first 2 hours of the rally. And post-mortem news coverage focused on the “message” Dems should be receiving about the crowd turnout, the religious psych-babble, and the anti-government tone of Operation Restore Honor. Yes, the fringe kook tea bag movement has officially entered the mainstream, with lots of help from NBC, CNN, the New York Times, Bill Press, Keith Olbermann, and the usual suspects. I guess that’s why they call it the Mainstream Media.