While we’re on the subject of raving loons – I think everyone’s been very cruel over the past few weeks, mocking the output of Fox News’ Glenn Beck. They’ve been making fun of the deranged outpourings on his twitter feed and website:
I think you can sense the darkness, the sadness quite honestly that has been in me for the last couple of years and specifically in the last year. We are headed for real destruction, and I have been ‑‑ I feel like I have been a watchman on the tower just as much as you a re, and you know the frustration of just trying to wake your friends up and they won’t listen to you.
Where’s their compassion? It’s actually kind of sad. Have you ever read a more tragic, desperate cry for help? The man is obviously seriously ill, and the Fox network is just exploiting the crazy rather than getting him the help he’s clearly crying out for.
Of course, if Beck were just pointing out that the Republican and Democrat parties are corrupt, that the US version of “democracy” is a sham, and that the corporate lobbyists have an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of influence on government policy – well, he’d have a point. But, disingenuous “I go after the GOP too” claims aside, he doesn’t. He objects to the government providing healthcare to the poor (socialism! An end to freedom!) but he had no objection to the previous regime giving itself special powers to lock people up indefinitely without trial or to go through Americans’ mail without a warrant. He claims to object to the duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats but it’s not like he’s out there advocating for preferential voting and a third party.
There is of course a second possibility – that he’s not mad, just a shameless liar. That he’s not oblivious to the contradictions in the paranoid fantasies he relates – he just hopes his audience will be. A person can, after all, get quite rich by exploiting people’s fears – particularly in difficult economic times, where the real “elites” (hint: it’s not the poor people who want healthcare) have badly screwed the country and many are losing their homes and livelihoods. It wouldn’t take a genius to realise the profit in playing a game like Beck’s – and clearly his network does, whether he’s a fully-aware, perfectly sane co-schemer, or an oblivious loon they’re cynically exploiting.
One thing you’d have to say – if Glenn Beck is a rational man playing a crazy one, he’s doing a disturbingly good job of it.
UPDATE: Nasty sponsors.