Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Kathleen Parker has a point about Glenn Beck, though she doesn't examine all the implications:

... Beck's "Restoring Honor" gathering on the Mall was right out of the Alcoholics Anonymous playbook. It was a 12-step program distilled to a few key words....

Saturday's Beckapalooza was yet another step in Beck's own personal journey of recovery....

Beck's history of alcoholism and addiction is familiar to any who follow him. He has made no secret of his past....

Any cursory search of Beck quotes also reveals the language of the addict:

-- "It is still morning in America. It just happens to be kind of a head-pounding, hung-over, vomiting-for-four-hours kind of morning in America."

-- "I have not heard people in the Republican Party yet admit that they have a problem."

... Taking others along for the ride, a.k.a. evangelism, is also part of the cure. The healed often cannot remain healed without helping others find their way....

I agree that substance-abuse recovery is an important metaphor for Beck. I agree that it's a source of quite a bit of his imagery.

But when he calls on America, or the Republican Party, to sober up, when he implicitly includes his own followers in this demand for morning-after responsibility, what exactly are the people he's talking to going to give up? For that matter, what exactly is he planning to give up?

Wealth? Beck's not giving that up. He made $32 million in 2009 and nearly that much the year before -- and, of course, the politicians to whom he gives aid and comfort all want to make sure his taxes remain as low as they've been since the Bush tax cuts kicked in.

Beck's followers demand "limited government" -- but don't you dare lay a finger on their Social Security and Medicare. Beck seems to be cool with that level of hypocrisy.

I suppose you could argue that Beck is demanding fiscal sobriety of whoever wins the upcoming midterms, but show of hands: if the Republicans take one or both houses of Congress and grab a little more pork for themselves in between efforts to shut down the governmwent, who here thinks Beck will be as upset as he's been in the past about, say, Van Jones or Cass Sunstein? Who thinks he's going to turn against the White House after 2013 if deficits are run up by his pal President Palin? Anyone?

Beck was a substance abuser -- but his core message is that we're the people who need to get clean. Not his followers. And certainly not himself.

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