Sunday, September 27, 2009
Well, I was feelin' sad and feelin' blue,
I didn't know what in the world I was gonna do,
Them Communists they wus comin' around,
They wus in the air,
They wus on the ground.
They wouldn't gimme no peace. . .
Dylan was right. It really doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows. Apparently, TIME magazine beats the age-old weathervane any day. Because regardless of how you feel about him, the man gracing the cover of this week’s TIME is the embodiment of America’s current temperament— divisive, paranoid and extremely pissed off.
Like him or hate him, one thing is for sure: Glenn Beck certainly has a point of view. And anyone who has listened to Beck’s syndicated radio show or watched his popular FOX news program knows he isn’t afraid to share it.
Steeped in a reverential respect for the past and the lessons history teaches us about the perils of present day America, Beck’s ‘historical’ hysterics have become a staple of his daily diatribes.
It probably wasn’t the intent of the editors of TIME magazine to embark on a journalistic jihad like the one instigated by Edward R. Morrow in the mid-50s when the fabled newsman went head-to-head with a certain sanctimonious junior senator from the state of Wisconsin. But intended or not, there is certainly a correlation connecting that self-promoting politician of a bygone era and this present day, ever-pontificating pundit.
And while the notoriously rabid Red-baiter wasn’t always the most forthcoming with the names of those who he claimed were out to destroy America, Glenn Beck doesn’t suffer from that same affliction. Glenn Beck’s “enemies of the state” list seems to be constantly growing, and Beck isn’t afraid to call them out.
Just three weeks ago, Beck claimed his first victory in his ongoing battle to purge the White House of ‘unsavory characters’ when he forced green jobs czar, Van Jones, to resign after branding the Obama confidante a communist and a radical.
This past week, Beck further perfected the art of demagoguery when he used his bully pulpit to oust Yosi Sergant from his position as Communications Director of the National Endowment for the Arts. Again, Beck led the charge after learning that Sergant hosted a conference call in which the four core areas of the Obama recovery program—health care, energy, environment and educational review—were allegedly promoted to a select group of liberal-learning artists. The presumption, and the central tenet of Beck's tirade, was that supporting the “Obama Agenda” through hip, urbane art would result in a big, fat check from the federal government.
The NEA has long been a target of the Right. And Beck’s indictment of Sergant’s involvement in the conference call certainly pulled no punches. And while Beck masterfully tapped into the growing sense of paranoia that is permeating this country, the fact that he actually raised several good points only made the story more menacing. A few of the more salient—
• From the moment the story broke, the White House claimed it had limited knowledge of Sergant’s call. Yet Buffy Wicks, a ranking office in the White House Office of Public Engagement, was actually on the call. So much for plausible deniability.
• Shortly after Sergant tendered his resignation, it was revealed that the White House had actually scheduled a second conference call with a different arts group. So much for Sergant’s claim that his actions were unilateral and without approval.
• In a last-ditch effort to distance himself from the call, Sergant briefly claimed a third party by the name of the Corporation for National Service sent out the invitation. Yet when Michael Skolnick, the organization’s political director, has gone on the record that both the White House and the NEA asked him to bring the artist community together. So much for Sergant’s claim the NEA was merely a conduit for the call, rather than the impetus behind it.
Exhibit A: Yosi Sargent's 'call' to action [click to enlarge]
And lest it be overlooked, a principal factor in Sergant even getting the NEA job in the first place is due to the fact that he persuaded Shepard Fairey to create the iconic Obama HOPE poster during the 2008 campaign— precisely the type of artist-political agenda alliance he was allegedly promoting on the call in question.
Considering the fact Yosi Sargent resigned just over a week after Beck’s allegation that the administration was using the NEA to effectively blackmail the artistic community into promoting the Obama agenda, there’s no question Beck struck a chord in a country already wracked with suspicion and mistrust.
The fact the best the White House could come up with in response to that charge was, “We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood or troubled other participants. [A]nd we will take all steps necessary to ensure that there is no further cause for questions or concerns about that commitment,” hardly assuaged that suspicion.
In baseball vernacular, Glenn Beck is batting a thousand. When it comes to his pitch to the American people that there are certain people in the government determined to destroy our way of life, he is two for two. But Beck best be careful.
In his preface to breaking the Yosi Sargent story, Beck alluded to his penchant for the past. But as any student of history will tell you, the past has a tendency to repeat itself.
And despite his success—or perhaps because if it—Glenn Beck is very close to assuming the mantle of another self-righteous demigod culled from one of America’s darkest chapters in American history...
Well, I fin'ly started thinkin' straight When I run outa things to investigate. Couldn't imagine doin' anything else, So now I'm sittin' home investigatin' myself! Hope I don't find out anything . . . hmm, great God!