Monday, August 30, 2010
The main impression I got from the snippets of the Glenn Beckistan Rally at the Memorial to Some President on the Mall was that this man is incredibly soft and pasty-white.
Nothing he said made the least bit of sense, and from the commentary of the chatterati about it, it didn't matter. No one was paying attention anyway.
The attendees were having themselves a fine little get-together on a hot and humid summer's day, and no one -- but no one -- was going to interfere with their pleasure. Can't argue with that. Nor can you work up too much OUTRAGE!!!!!
™ over it.
Just another summer "news" filler.
But the warnings continue, as they should. This man is a prime, grade-A, number one demagogue who's been playing the road show circuit for quite some time. Most of the criticism of him that's appeared in the media, new and old, is of his truly appalling (what I've seen of it) television show -- a show that consists primarily of incoherent rants, nonsense and gibberish. With illustrations. But he has a radio show and a road show too, and he's been taking his show on the road for over a year. Hardly anyone talks about that part of his entertainment empire.
The personal appearances are where he makes the direct connection with the People, and that's apparently where his power lies. Beck does have power over his Masses, so they say, in that he is able to assemble sizable crowds wherever he goes, and he is able to manage them successfully to 1) give money; 2) believe what he says. Even if they don't understand a word of it.
His speechifying is literally incomprehensible to a radical secularist like me, and they say it is because he talks in a "code" that is only understandable by the Adept -- primarily those steeped in Christian Reconstructionism and general Authoritarianism. That may be, I don't know. What he sounds like is a drunk or drug addict (apparently he has been both) who is still high or on a bender. Cf: the gibberish out of George W. Bush's mouth. Only by comparison, Bush made sense, at least sometimes.
On a related note, when I was on the road a lot, I would listen to Limbaugh in the mornings. I was well aware of when he fell into the Oxycontin habit, for he became completely incoherent, his monologues making no sense at all, simply words strung together with Emphasis, as if they had any meaning, and as he got more and more into his drug of choice, not only was he making no sense at all, but he was losing his hearing, and so he was unable to hear either himself or anyone else, and it was almost like he was constantly whining or crying on the air. It was bizarre as hell, and it went on for a year or more.
No one noticed. That's not to say "no one at all." What it does say is that a very strict Code of Silence surrounded his on-air deterioration such that none of his media colleagues ever said a word about it, ever pointed out what complete nonsense he was spouting, ever publicly hinted there was something "wrong", not until the penultimate moment before he went into rehab. Apparently, too, his vaunted listeners -- all those millions, who are, by the way, far fewer than the number touted, not 20 million a week by a long shot, closer to 10 or 12 -- didn't notice. They just went along for the ride, and it wasn't his babbling nonsense that eventually clued them that maybe something was "wrong," it was his constant whining and crying because he couldn't hear.
Something like that episode is going on with this soft, pasty demagogue in his many appearances over the last couple of years. Beck's overt madness has made Bill O'Reilly look sane by comparison; that's scary enough all by itself.
But as Digby pointed out, he Speaks in Tongue, babbling in a language only certain Initiates and Those Chosen can "understand." And as he goes around the country doing this shtick, over and over and over, he seems to bring more and more lunacy out of his followers, while attracting more and more of the merely curious to check it out.
Crazy, perhaps. I wouldn't have any way of knowing what his true psychology is, because so much of what he does is show-biz hucksterism. It's an act. He's putting on a show for the Rubes, with the intention of picking their pockets. This is as obvious as sin.
And in that context, he is nothing more than yet another predator in our midst. Yet another religious predator as he is now propounding the theory that he is Chosen By God to Lead His Flock, yadda, yadda. Sure he was. Given that he is a convert to Mormonism, this is a very odd position for him to take. Yes, of course, Mormons "witness" to Gentiles, but they are typically modest about it, and they typically don't prattle on about being God's Chosen -- well, not unless they're Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, etc., in other words in charge of the Mormon Church itself. And I haven't seen any signs that the current Presidency thereof is yielding to the likes of Glenn Beck. Besides, his ecumenical "ministry" is not even remotely in line with Mormonism as Received From Above. It's little more than bastardized Social Darwinism dolled up in Moralism and Misquoted Scripture.
Not only is he Pillsbury soft and pasty white and he cries a lot -- which is appealing on an instinctive level, (white) babies, don'tchaknow -- he has been able to demonstrate significant levels of managing the masses, which the turn out in DC the other day amply showed. Crowd estimates fell short of the 100,000 - 300,000 that was being touted. Between 75,000 and 85,000 is said to be the most likely number based on pictures like this:
which shows a substantial but surprisingly sparse crowd in many areas. What time were the pictures taken? Time of day has some influence on attendance, and as there appear to be slight shadows from the east, I'd say it was before 11am. But I don't know.
And there was the CBS estimate of 87,000 based on those pictures. It's far less than the number "expected," but for those who watch for these kinds of things, getting a crowd of over 20,000 is considered adequate to demonstrate managing the masses sufficiently to be taken seriously. It was part of Obama's audition process for the Presidency as well.
The curious thing for me is where we go from here. Glenn Beck will be happy to pick the pockets of his followers until Doomsday, a destiny he -- and they -- appear to devoutly wish. OK, then. Have at it.
Healthy ecosystems require predators of a certain sort, and in some sense, the kind of predation Beck does is harmless enough. What's dangerous is letting him run wild, or what's even worse, form a pack of predators with others of his ilk, and doing that seemed to be a part of what he was doing the other day in DC. He had Sarah Palin, Arch She-Predator, and a whole passel of Ministers of the Lord (predators all). And plenty of yelping from would-be running dogs. This was the Display from the podium.
Go watch "Triumph of the Will" again; you will see something of the same thing. Or observe Stalin's rallies in Red Square.
Ultimately, it's a recipe for disaster.