“I Have a Big, Fat Mouth”

Published: September 8, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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That’s how Glenn Beck described himself on Fox and Friends (Aug. 29) in his kind-of, sort-of take-back of calling President Obama “a racist,” with “a deep-seated hatred for white people,” on that same program last year.

Beck’s trenchant self-analysis comes more than a year later and a day after his evangelistic “Restoring Honor” revival on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When Glenn Beck speaks I’m never quite sure whether I’m attending Beck University (don’t laugh, it actually exists) or the Church of Beck.

Meanwhile, back to the apologia – “It shouldn’t have been said, it was poorly said, I have a big fat mouth sometimes and I say things … and that’s not the way people should behave and it was not accurate.”

But no sooner did Beck confess the size of his oral cavity than he inserted both his feet. “I don’t want to retract — I want to amend. I think it’s much more of a theological question. … I didn’t understand really [Obama’s] theological viewpoints come from liberation theology; that’s what I think at the gut level I was sensing and I miscast it as racism.”

Liberation theology?

Sounds like someone’s been doing a little light reading on Wikipedia: “Liberation theology… has been described by proponents as ‘an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor’s suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor,’ and by detractors as Christianity perverted by Marxism and Communism.”

Glenn Beck is a man who stands in a TV studio five days a week frequently in front of outsized images of Samuel Adams, Jefferson and Franklin with the emblematic words, Faith, Hope and Charity – three words to which Beck both literally and figuratively turns his back.

There is so much wrong with self-styled “authority” Glenn Beck that I hardly know where to begin. But let me try.

Notice I don’t call him “pundit,” because the only expertise Mr. Beck brings to any conservative dialog is his skill to malign, misinform, distort, spin, and blow-out-of-any-reasonable-proportion anything approaching a serious analysis of the issues facing the country through fear, lies and his own sheer pomposity. He’s particularly skilled at sobbing on cue while wrapping himself in an assortment of populist words which morph into a grandiose conclusion that bears no resemblance to anything that makes sense.

One minute he’s Glenn Beck, man of the people: “There was a time,” he writes in Glenn Beck’s Common Sense (2009), “when our political leaders cited their leadership, temperament, experience, judgment, character, and merit in order to gain the trust and support of a skeptical electorate. Today they purchase votes and campaign cash by boasting about the pork they’ve secured for their pet projects or the billions they’ve passed along to their powerful political allies.”

And the next minute, “Barack Obama… chose to use his name Barack for a reason – to identify, not with America – you don’t take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what, your heritage? … [or] maybe… your father in Kenya, who is a radical?” (Feb. 4, 2010)

Or this: “You have three people in the White House that are in love with eugenics or whatever it is you would call it today… Please dear God…ask yourself this one question: Do you trust these people enough to give them control over who lives and who dies? Because that’s what health care is when you have no other choice but to go to the state.” (Aug. 6, 2009)

That’s Beck comparing health care reform to Nazi eugenics.

Speaking of God, last April on his radio program, Beck recited his illuminated trip to the Vatican. “I was in the Vatican, and I was surprised that the individual I was speaking to knew who I was. And they said: ‘Of course we know who you are. What you’re doing is wildly important. We’re entering a period of great darkness, and if good people don’t stand up, we could enter a period unlike we have seen in a very long time.’”

Of course, Beck never makes clear exactly who in the Vatican he spoke to, but the inference is that it is some “official” voice from on high.

What does seem clear to me is Beck’s uncanny resemblance to delusional anchorman Howard Beale from the movie Network who is given to his own “divine” illuminations.

“Why me?” Beale asks during one of his conversations with the Almighty.

“Because you’re on television, dummy!” comes the response.

(Note: After writing this and looking for a Beale-like quote I found this admission from Beck: “I am like Howard Beale. When he came out of the rain and he was like, none of this makes any sense. I am that guy.”)

Sense or nonsense, the reality is that Beck is neither preacher nor teacher. He’s become a second-rate, tent-show revivalist; a later day Elmer Gantry whose mission is to throw out the facts and throw in equal parts fear, demagoguery and Gantry-like insincerity.

In a final Beale gospel, Network’s raving prophet reveals the truth about TV hucksterism.

“You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning,” Beale screams, “you’re beginning to believe that the tube is reality… You do whatever the tube tells you: you dress like the tube, you eat like the tube… you even think like the tube… In God’s name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion.”

The gospel according to Beck:

“Get back on our knees and pray.” (Aug. 12, 2010)

“The government wants to control every little bit of your life.” (June 12, 2009)

“Be an evangelist for the cause of America.” (Mar. 25, 2010)

“Get your neighbors head out of the sand, as well.” (Aug. 26, 2010)

“Use Twitter, use Facebook.” (Apr. 23, 2010)

“Join the Tea Party, and… call Goldline.”  (Aug. 25, 2010)

Can I have an AMEN?


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