The conservative perspective on Glenn Beck

I think you could make a strong argument that Glenn Beck is among the most famous Mormons in America, certainly at this point up there with Mitt Romney and Harry Reid.  His Fox news show is tearing up the 5 p.m. Eastern hour (not traditionally a good time slot), his radio show is among the top five (and perhaps top three) nationwide after Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.  And he’s written several books that have done quite well.

The Bloggernacle has already passed judgement on Glenn Beck, and, in short, we hate him.  See here for one example and here for another.  See the links and comments on T&S and BCC for practically daily examples.

I’m not interested in this becoming another post where everybody points out how much they hate Glenn Beck.  That has already been done.  Repeatedly.  Instead, my question is:  can and should Mormon intellectuals find anything redeeming in his hysterical, populist style?  Can we acknowledge the value of his muck-raking journalism, which has gone out of style with other media?  How about his defense of the Constitution and his promotion of non-partisan politics (he is not a Republican, by the way, but calls himself an independent leaning toward libertarian)?

NOTE TO COMMENTERS:  If you want your comment to stay on this post, you will refrain from comments telling us all how much you hate Glenn Beck.  We already know most Mormons on the Bloggernacle hate Glenn Beck.  Your opinion has been noted.  We get it.  You hate Glenn Beck.  If, however, you have something substantive to add, your comment may remain at the discretion of the person who wrote this post.  Them’s the rules, if you don’t like them, go read something else.

So, now that we all understand the rules, let’s consider this article.  The article points out that there is an ongoing debate among conservatives as to whether we should embrace Beck or not.  The point is that he is highly unpopular among conservatives.  It is worth pointing out that I have heard “traditional” conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others express that they hate him just as much as your average liberal at FMH.  So, hating Glenn Beck is an area of rare bipartisan agreement.

Let me also point out that I find his style off-putting.  He is very loose with facts and figures.  I don’t like the writing at the chalk board.  I don’t like how often he puts “air quotation marks” around his statements.  I don’t like his promotion of Cleon Skausen, whose rantings on politics are about 50 years out of date.

BUT, and here’s the rub.  Glenn Beck is doing some excellent work that nobody else in the media is doing.  Van Jones had no place in an Obama administration — or any administration — and I’m glad to see him go.  The NEA’s promotion of the president is definitely inappropriate.  Overall, I think the Sept. 12 marches and the tea parties are good things, although I agree that there are some occasional crazies who make anti-tax, pro-Constitution protesters look bad.  But hopefully thinking people can agree that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” as the left used to say during the Bush years.

As a former journalist, I take very seriously the role of the media in challenging those in power, whether it be a Democratic or Republican administration (or even, on a local level, the mayor or city manager).  For those who think the media has always had a liberal bias, I have news for you:  go back and read the coverage of the Clinton administration.  The mainstream media really took it to the Clintons, and it was a good thing, because it helped President Clinton become a better president over time.  I welcomed the fair coverage that challenged Pres. Bush as well.

But virtually all of the challenging of Pres. Obama — or a large percentage of it — is coming from one news organization, Fox, and that’s not a good thing for anybody.  Much of the media has abdicated its responsibility to challenge the powerful, and that has opened up an opportunity for people like Glenn Beck.

So I praise Glenn Beck in this small area — he is an old-fashioned, muck-raking journalist bringing up uncomfortable questions and challenging those in power.  For those who wondered, yes, he did criticize Pres. Bush — often.  Did he criticize him as much as Pres. Obama?  No, not nearly as much.  But he has determined that he disagrees with Pres. Obama more than Pres. Bush.  But please, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that Beck is some kind of Republican flak.  You are sorely mistaken.  Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity?  Definitely Republican flaks.  Glenn Beck?  No way.

I’d like to close this post by reminding people of Glenn Beck’s tribute to President Gordon B. Hinckley.  Please view this video.  By all accounts, Glenn Beck is a loyal Church member who is trying to do his best to represent the Church in a positive way.  I disagree with Harry Reid politically just about as much as I can, but I still would welcome him with open arms if he were to walk into my ward one day.  The same applies to Glenn Beck.  I hope you would have the same attitude.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

125 thoughts on “The conservative perspective on Glenn Beck

  1. To me, the issue is the message vs. the messenger.

    As you said about tax and constitutional protesters — sometimes the crazies get in the way of the message. I’ll admit, I don’t listen to Glenn Beck live — ever. Virtually the only thing I hear/see from him is YouTube videos sent to me by other people.

    But, I find myself agreeing with the words he says, but hating the way he says them. Does that make sense? I mean, dial it down about 8 notches and I could probably deal with him. But, he’s jut “too much crazy” for me. (Sorry about the Beck-is air quotes.) 🙂

  2. Come on Geoff. Didn’t you know that Glenn would be leading the Elders of Israel to save the constitution when it’s hanging by a thread?

    Seriously now. Glenn has carved himself out a niche that no one could/would fill, and people resonate with his talk/rhetoric. His admonitions to get back to founding principles rubs people wrongly, for whatever reason, but I find it refreshing. He is going to upset anyone who identifies with the progressive philosophy, because everything he says goes against that. But I think he adds a value to the discussion, even if you don’t like what he says.

  3. Michael, personally I like Glenn a lot more on the radio than on TV. I think I just don’t like his style, as you say. Fletcher, your point is valid: Glenn is filling a niche that nobody else does.

  4. I personally see Beck as a painful episode in Mormon political history and thought, partly because he is promoting a farther right-wing stance among some Mormons and discouraging a balanced intellectual inquiry into politics among Mormons. In many ways I think some Mormons watch his program because he’s Mormon, or just of curiosity based on his Mormon background, or because most Mormons in the US are already Republican, and then some believe his political theories and some become regular viewers. To clarify, I am not saying Beck is exemplary of the Mormon political position, but I do see and know some LDS people who really like and believe his ideas, partly because they got hooked on following a Mormon figure on TV. The sad part is that Beck, and the two main counterparts of the Republican fear-mongering effort (Hanity and Limbaugh), are fomenting anger and rage against a difference in ideology. They are preaching violence. It looks very ridicoulous to an outsider, but many don’t see it that way. Also, sadly a majority of what they peddle is trash, but sadly some people still believe it, and its dragging down Mormon understanding of the political process. I am an academic, I grew up in Utah, but don’t live there now, and lots of my family still live in Utah and they enjoy Beck’s program. They often ask me if I have been watching Beck. It is painful for me to even hear this, because I find it sad that anyone believes Beck, enjoys his program, but especially family and Mormons in general. Beck is now the butt of jokes on Comedy Central and shows like The Daily Show, but some Mormons still continue to believe Beck’s words. I do hope Mormons sometime begin to follow the Jewish example and move toward adopting more progressive politics as advanced education within Mormonism has been encouraged in recent years. Thanks.

  5. Zach, I don’t see anything in your comment except “I hate Glenn Beck because he is a right-winger, and I wish other Mormons were as smart as I am so they could hate him also.” Your comment violates the purpose of this post, but it is also shows that you have not even listened to his show. Please read this:

    Glenn Beck, even by liberal standards, is not your standard “right-winger.” He’s just not, and your comment shows you know absolutely nothing about him except what you have read in left-wing media.

    As for “preaching violence,” I challenge you to provide one clear case of Beck, Hannity or Limbaugh “preaching violence.” I see lots of evidence of you personally “fomenting anger and rage against a difference in ideology” but I see no actual evidence in your comment that your supposed targets have ever done it.

  6. Just a warning: last chance, the next comment like Zach’s gets deleted so fast it will make your head spin. Don’t do it. If you’re going to come on this thread, have something substantive to add besides the typical “I’m so embarrassed Glenn Beck is a Mormon and other Mormons like him” cliche. If you want to make that kind of comment, there are plenty of other places to go to get your voice heard.

  7. Kaimi, I remember hearing about that. Wow, I don’t remember seeing a guest collapse before, but it’s probably happened a fair amount. Your old Sunday School teacher was fainting because he was contemplating the horrible prospect of $1 trillion debts as far as the eye can see, I’m sure.

    Here’s Beck’s description of what happened.

  8. I saw an interview with Beck afterwards on a show, where mentioned that he first heard Pres. Buckner say “I feel like I’m going to pass out” and he thought it was just a rhetorical flourish. Then he looked up and saw that it might be serious.

    Apparently, that episode of the show pulled in record ratings in re-runs because everyone wanted to see it.

  9. He is bombastic and over the top, but then again isn’t renting your coat and writing “In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children” and the writing a letter to your elected leaders threatening dire consequences if provisions weren’t sent to your army unit?

    I feel that he is providing an important role in today’s political discourse, in effect the process of re-centering the current political reality. People can move to the right of the center and say “well, at least I’m not as crazy as that Beck guy.” I feel he is going uncomfortably far to the right, but not too far. In effect balancing the forces on the left that are similarly going uncomfortably far for most people.

    However, I liked his show much more before the 2006 election. More jepretardy and mother/father of the year awards and less 9-12ing.

  10. I do not agree with a lot of what Beck says, but I think highly of him as a human being and I am glad we live in a country where he is free to speak things that I think are anathema. I do wish there were a famous Latter-day Saint on the other extreme end of the spectrum (I do not think Senator Reid counts as an extremist, at least outside of my ward and stake). Not because I agree with either extreme, but because I believe in robust debate–even when the robustness crosses lines that I think inappropriate.

  11. I think many, if not most, conservatives are distrustful of Beck for a wide variety of reasons – primarily because beyond his populism some see him as not having a defined set of view. i.e. he’s defined by a kind of wild eschatology.

    I can’t say much since I just don’t listen to nor watch him. The things I tend to see are the same things everyone else does – clips of more outrageous statements.

    All that said, ignoring the horrible state politics has entered into where we simply don’t work together towards a common goal, I think it is interesting that someone is worried about conspiracies. I just think that most of the conspiracies he sees aren’t the ones to be concerned about. But if he is a failed reader of the Book of Mormon – often becoming what he preaches against – it does illustrate a certain Mormon perspective on politics. I just wish we had a better practitioner of it.

  12. DavidH, Sen. Reid would be seen as less extreme if he were not the majority leader. I bet there is part of him that regrets having lobbied for that position. Clark, I agree on the conspiracy theory aspect of Glenn Beck’s ideology — in my mind, that is one of his worst tendencies. But that is a basic tenet of populism — there’s always a conspiracy by “them” somewhere.

  13. Early on in Rush Limbaugh’s career, he set the tone for his show that continues more or less to this day. His stated goal was to “demonstrate the absurd by being absurd,” and he did so with his various updates, song parodies, etc. Those who got it, had the opportunity to laugh while thinking about the underlying point. Those who didn’t get it, ranted about how hateful, racist, and divisive Rush was.

    Glenn Beck has adopted this style to get his point across. He often tells his listeners and viewers (maybe, I don’t watch his show anymore), that he is a “rodeo clown” but that he just wants to talk about these issues on his mind. Like Rush before, those who get it can laugh while thinking about the underlying point. Those who don’t get it, call him a racist and say he is fomenting violence, but ignore, at their peril, the underlying point, just like the liberals did 20 years ago when Rush was starting out.

    Just like Rush’s audience, Beck’s listeners aren’t homogeneous. Many don’t agree with him. Then why do they listen to him? Because he makes them think about issues from a different perspective, certainly a perspective not covered in the old guard media (see, e.g., ACORN, Van Jones, the illegal NEA call).

    And, yes, he’s passionate. So what? To paraphrase President Clinton’s political architect, James Carville, “It’s theatre, stupid!” Nobody would listen if he sounded like a BBC newsreader, would they?

  14. @Danno Ferrin
    I’m probably going to hell for it, but Moron Trivia is one of my favorites. For those who don’t know, he calls up two convenience stores in cities that represent the Monday Night Football teams, and has them go head to head in a trivia contest. Not only are the answers some people come up with facepalm ridiculous, but Beck’s responses are priceless comebacks.

  15. Hmm, I don’t know that Limbaugh hates Beck. He appeared on Beck’s show, and does mention him from time to time on his show in a respectful manner. I can’t imagine Hannity saying that either, being his Fox compatriot. Where did you hear these comments, out of curiosity?

  16. I watch him every month or so. I find his style a bit over the top — he’s very high energy, like many alcoholics I’ve known. I disagree with not a few of his points, and his idea that “party doesn’t matter” is popular but stupid. I like that he agrees that he’s a goof who doesn’t know anything. And I love his conversion story — the real one, not the truncated one that the Stossell interview showed. I find myself wanting to repeat “The only way this works is if I really love you, and you really love me” in classes at Church all the time.

    I don’t give a flying fig about Cleon Skousen or his quotes. I like the 9-12 idea — there’s nothing wrong with the idea that we can be unified by the idea of what draws us together more than we are separated by the things we disagree about. If we can respect diversity and embrace other cultures that differ from ours in major ways, can’t we find a way to respect and embrace people we disagree with about politics? If we can’t do that, I don’t see us being able to build Zion.

    I do think it’s important to not take Glenn more seriously than he takes himself — and he really, really doesn’t take himself seriously. He’s sincere in what he says, but he’s not 100% certain that he’s right about everything. Don’t let his flashy and loud get in the way of seeing a basically good guy who’s trying the best he can to reach people and make things better. If you don’t want to watch him all that often, fine, but don’t think that the excerpts circulated by people who don’t like him give you the inside track to his soul.

  17. I listened to Limbaugh a lot 18 or 20 years ago (not since), and even though I didn’t at all like his “talent on loan from God” arrogance, or his specific politics, I did very much appreciate one thing about him: Unlike other commentators, he didn’t just whine or complain. He whined or complained, *and then* he proposed a solution. I may not have liked the proposed solution, but at least we then had something to think about and argue over.

    I don’t really think Glenn Beck proposes solutions in quite the same way, but I think talk radio has moved on a long way from when I used to listen regularly — I think maybe political discourse has become telescoped, so that his listeners hear implied solutions that blow right past me. (To illustrate what I mean, think about old black and white movies where you watched a character walk across a room, pick up a phone and dial, and then cut to where the camera followed another character as he walked across the room and picked up the telephone and answered. It was as if audiences couldn’t fill in the gaps to realize that one character was calling the other without all that detail. But movies now are so telescoped that the barest sign of someone reaching for a cell phone is all we need to know that a call was made and a message delivered. I’m wondering if people don’t fill in the gaps in Beck’s stunts the same way.)

    I don’t think very many people enjoy wallowing in nothing but complaints for very long. Beck has such a following that I have to suspect there is more to his bombast than I’m hearing. I admit that I don’t hear anything but the bombast, and that makes it impossible for me to evaluate his message seriously. But evidently not everyone has that trouble. I have to believe (“have to” in the sense that if I don’t, I’ll go crazy) that people are basically good and reasonably functional, so Beck must have some real value.

    As for his moving to my ward, I would have no trouble raising my hand to welcome him. He’d just better accept, though, that in SS *I* have the floor and he doesn’t. 🙂

  18. Geoff B.

    I am indeed sorry you didn’t see my post as responding to your question. And I do apologize if the post sounded like a negative take on Beck, though that was not my intention. But I respectfully disagree with you and think you overlooked the meaning behind my post.

    As you suggested, I also read that new blurb. It seems that reporter saw that Glenn is not aligned entirely with the Republican GOP and has some of his own beliefs, and perhaps the author saw Beck as original. That was indeed interesting. But do I see his own beliefs impacting Mormons, yes. Are some Mormons following his ideas vs. the mainstream Republican GOP, I don’t know, but its possible there is an amalgamation of ideas. I would see that as important from a intellectual perspective, but still troubling. Past posts on the archipelago have made the case that Beck is a new harbinger for Mormon Millennialism, which I could agree since he seems rather millennial at times. I would see this idea of his reaching some Mormons, though not intellectuals. I regularly see my friends on Facebook who often refer or take a pole that supports the idea that Obama is a monster is destroying America. So Mormons are responding to the message of these Beckian figures.

    Then you asked the following question: “Can and should Mormon intellectuals find anything redeeming in his hysterical, populist style? Can we acknowledge the value of his muck-raking journalism?” Its hard to answer that outright because what do you mean by ‘redeeming’ and what do you mean by ‘value’? Depending upon what you mean, I simply stated that Mormon intellectuals see him as problem both to American political thought an to Mormon political thought. LDS intellectuals perhaps don’t see his message as healthy for Mormonism. From another perspective, historically speaking, years from now people could write a study on his behavior and try to see if Beck had an influence. I could see that as ‘valuable’, but only in the sense that we can examine his presence and message to the Mormon audience.

    As for value in muck-racking journalism, penned by whoever, that would be awful if Mormons found value in it. And as for his message being redeeming, that would also be similar. I think the idea of finding value in the muck, in fearmongering, should be wholly un-Mormon, since an aspect of Mormonism is to find truth, apply it, and live by it.

  19. Zach, thank you for taking the time to respond. I don’t think you understand what muckraking journalism is. Take a look at this Wikipedia entry:

    In short, muckraking journalism is a good thing in that it exposes corruption/abuses of power, etc. Think of Upton Sinclair exposing the meat packers in the novel “The Jungle” or “The Grapes of Wrath” and Steinbeck’s exposure of the abuses of the Okies. So, the whole idea of journalism, which culminated with “All the President’s Men,” is for journalists to be the Fourth Estate that represents the people and exposes greed, corruption, etc in government. My contention is that most of the media has basically given up on exposing negative things about the Obama administration because they favor the Obama administration. My point is that this is a negative thing — both for the Republic and for Obama himself. Presidents NEED to be criticized so they don’t gain too much power. Such criticism was essential for Clinton and helped him become a better president.

    As for your contention that “LDS intellectuals perhaps don’t see his message as healthy for Mormonism,” I have no idea what you mean by that because he doesn’t talk about Mormonism very much at all.

  20. Jana, there was a time about six months ago when most of Beck’s fellow radio hosts were piling on him. I got the feeling they didn’t like him much. I can’t recall the exact issue, sorry. It is probably fair to say that I may have exaggerated by saying they “hate” him. Thanks for the correction.

  21. I watch his program pretty often – I too think that his style is over the top and a little annoying sometimes, but I hear about things that I don’t see anywhere else. Nobody else is talking about the corruption in both parties that is so destructive – only by talking about it is there a chance to change it.

  22. Geoff, I’m somewhat of a talk radio insider and I can vouch for the fact that Beck is disliked intensely by some of his fellow talkers, Mark Levin in particular.

    Hannity ain’t too big a fan either, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Until a few months ago Hannity was the big Righty over at Fox (I don’t consider O’Reilly a righty- too wishy washy). Enter Beck, whose ratings already rival Hannity’s, even with the crap time slot. Beck on the cover of Time, not Hannity. Beck in the news, not Hannity. Beck breaking all these stories, not Hannity. Hannity is both scared and jealous, and while the two are congenial, tension is high in Foxland

    If Rush dislikes Beck, he hides it well. I know less about that relationship, but methinks Rush sees a little of himself in Beck, and that endears him. Even if his top legal contributer, Mark Levin (to whom Rush refers to as ‘F. Lee Levin’), hates Beck’s guts.

    I’ve met Glenn Beck a time or two, and while I don’t agree with everything he says, I found him to be an honest, sincere man. The bloggernacle may not think he’s good for Mormonism, but I know his testimony has been good for at least a few struggling Mormons, some of whom are disagree with his politics.

  23. Geoff, I think you missed my point. I was praising him for adopting a recognition that there are conspiracies. Just that I think he’s incompetent at how he looks for them. He seeks after the master criminal type conspiracy where everyone is on message and so ridiculously competent it’s not funny. And how he puts the pieces together is ludicrous. So he’s the Book of Mormon through a fun house mirror. But, what is praiseworthy is recognizing there are problems and double workings. It’s just that I think such things are rarely organized akin to a bad James Bond movie. Whereas Beck does. (And his reasoning is just horrible)

    But to give a real example of a real conspiracy, think the way racist thinking permeated our land. There are real conspiracies. They just don’t need a top down approach.

  24. To add, I should caveat my comments. I don’t listen that often and he may get into the more defensive types of “bottom up” conspiracies. As I said the clips I hear reminds me of 9/11 conspiracies or the like too much.

  25. I’m neutral on Beck. I listen to him on occasion, but more often than not, I enjoy listening to music at work. He does raise some valid points and I find myself agreeing with some of what he says. Haven’t watched his TV show yet.

  26. I like Glenn Beck. I’m not a fan of the dopey props or the histrionics, and he comes on at a time when I can rarely watch, so maybe if I saw him more I would be more weary of what he’s doing.

    And I dislike that he’s weak on sourcing some of his “facts” so it’s not possible to rely on a fair amount of what he says. He’s got enough money now that I wish he would employ top-notch fact checkers and be more careful.

    However, his main points are important and he’s given me more hope than anyone in the media that everyone isn’t going to merely sleepwalk into the darkness of a government run on principles of demagoguery and dissembling. He comes nearer than anyone else on television to expressing my angst at Washington. I do not think it can be reformed at this point.

    I don’t like the turn media coverage of politics has taken, with evangelical crusaders replacing objective reporters. I think its going to get intense and I don’t think anyone is going to like it. I wish the liberal media had responded to the rise of talk radio and Fox News by focusing on gathering news and presenting it accurately. They would have “won.” Only they had the resources to do that well.

    However, that’s not what they did. Given their ideological limitations, maybe they couldn’t have done it. So here we are.

  27. Christopher, that’s a fair question. All I’ve seen of Keith Olbermann are the crazy youtube clips when he says rude and outrageous things. Doesn’t he have the “worst person in the world” thing where he takes on conservatives? In any case, if you can point to me a time when Olbermann broke a legitimate story that nobody else was covering, then I’ll grant you that he’s doing some good, ground-breaking journalistic work. I’m unaware of Olbermann breaking any stories, and my impression is that the left mostly likes him because he says nasty things about conservatives, but I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if you can give me some examples.

  28. The example that comes to mind is Olbermann breaking the news last year that Phil Gramm (who was John McCain’s national campaign co-chair) was a registered lobbyist for the Swiss Bank and thus had much to gain from the advise he was giving McCain on how to handle the banking crisis.

    Truth be told, I don’t think Olbermann “breaks” too many stories. But neither does Beck. He certainly did not “break” the Van Jones story. What Olbermann and Beck both do is publicize such stories/scandals in a loud, shrill manner that is intended for entertainment and to rally the grassroots.

    My point was that Olbermann pretty much matches up with Beck in every other respect. He doesn’t identify as a Democrat (“I am not a liberal. I am an American” he’ll repeat from time to time), but clearly leans to the far left of the spectrum. He’s called out liberals and democrats before (including a scathing critique of President Obama a couple of months ago). He has other pundits on the left who don’t like him and regularly criticize him for making the left look bad. Just look at your last comment, and substitute “Glenn Beck” for “Keith Olbermann”:

    “All I’ve seen of [Glenn Beck] are the crazy youtube clips when he says rude and outrageous things. … my impression is that the [right] mostly likes him because he says nasty things about liberals.”

    Isn’t that the attitude of the liberal folks around the bloggernacle that you called out in your post?

  29. I found this post to be a refreshing change of pace as to how Glenn is normally treated in these parts. I have listened to Glenn’s radio show quite a bit over the last year, and the one thing that I would add to the thread is that he doesn’t talk about being LDS overtly too regularly, but he does often discuss the atonement and its effects in his life. He is not shy when discussing what a horrible guy he was prior to quitting drinking and subsequently finding the church. I have often been moved by his testimony expressed in small ways. Would that we could all be as good at bearing our testimonies in normal conversation without being overbearing. Despite differences people of good will may have with his political views, I would disagree vehemently with anyone who would make the argument that he isn’t sincere in his religious beliefs.

    (As for Senator Reid, I live in southern Nevada. When I first moved here, I asked my bishop whether Reid was an active member of the Church. His response was that he understood that Reid did attend church regularly, but that he got REALLY active every six years or so, and in multiple wards each week.)

  30. @Christopher I think that’s where we’re headed–more crusaders probably getting more shrill, like Olberman and Beck, who appear quite similar at a sufficiently superficial level. They are not articulating visions of the same world though. It will be hard to find what the facts really are. So many people will just believe what they want to believe, and they will move the world a bit nearer to what they really want.

  31. Christopher, #34, I still don’t get the point of your comment. I didn’t “call out” liberals on Glenn Beck at all. I acknowledged that they hate him, offered my own (many) criticisms and offered two positive points about Beck 1)that he breaks some stories and is an old-fashioned muck-raking journalist, and that is refreshing and 2)that he has a nice testimony. I also pointed out that many conservatives don’t like Beck and it is a mistake to see him as a typical right-wing conservative, because he is not, he is a populist, sometimes enjoyed by the right and sometimes not.

    If you want to point out that Olbermann is similar to Beck but on the liberal side, great. Personally, I’m not interested in watching Olbermann because I don’t agree with him on very many issues, and from what I’ve seen I don’t like his style. But if you like him, more power to you.

  32. Whoa. Geoff, you’ve misread my comment. I wasn’t trying to suggest this post was intended to call out liberals, though I see how my last comment could be read that way. My point was just to try and delve a little deeper into your defense of Beck here. You say you like Beck because he digs up dirt on those in power and exposes it, though in a bombastic fashion. I point out that Olbermann does the same. You reply that if I can provide examples then you might be willing to admit he fills the same function for the left that Beck does for the right. I provide examples and suggest further how the two are alike. You reply by inferring that I love Olbermann, but that you don’t like him and I can’t make you. Your response belies your claim that you like Beck because he is a muckraking journalist who calls out those in power because you don’t deem Olbermann, who performs the exact same function for the left, worth your time. So does that mean you like Beck because he digs up dirt on politicians you don’t like? If you were sincere in your praise for good, ol’ fashioned muckraking journalists, it seems you’d give Olbermann his due, too.

    For the record, I don’t watch Olbermann much. Like Beck, I find his style off putting. Where you got the idea that I like him is beyond me, since I didn’t advocate on his behalf at all, and instead merely commented on the function he serves in comparison to Beck.

  33. OK, now I see the point of your comment. Sorry I missed it. If Olbermann truly is digging up dirt on those in power and exposing corruption (although I’d bet you’d admit he not doing that to the Obama administration), then I would have the same praise for him that I do for Beck. I’ll go a step further: I don’t like Ralph Nader or IF Stone’s politics, but I agree their work is important in our democracy. A lot of really, truly great work has been done by leftist journalists/muckrakers trying to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. My point is that here we have a right-wing (kind of) journalist who is doing the same thing, and we should acknowledge that.

  34. Glenn Beck is not the first LDS muck-raking journalist – Jack Anderson was, although in the pre-television era, Beck’s histrionics would never have been part of his presentation.

    If we relied on folks visiting or other Breitbart websites, the Van Jones, NEA, or ACORN stories would have remained buried. Glenn’s theatrics, facts hidden by the MSM, and conspiracy theories (as much as we might find them distasteful) bring record numbers of viewers to his 5 p.m. show, which the MSM (three weeks later) can’t ignore.

    By the way “” (I don’t like the name, either) has Glenn Beck re-runs posted within a few hours for those who can’t watch his 5 p.m. show.

  35. Instead of saying I love/hate Glenn Beck, I’ll say that I agree with him over 50% of the time on his concepts. He can be very entertaining, and he knows how to reach out to a group of people that feel government and the major media are ignoring.
    While I think he is sometimes over the top, I can’t help but think that no one else in the media was even looking at ACORN or Van Jones until Glenn Beck made it an issue. Standing alone on certain issues makes him stand out from the rest of the media crowd. And I think he sometimes gets over-emotional and loud, because no one else is bringing up the things that concern him. The squeaky wheel, and all that.

    I think he performs a service for us. We do well to listen to him, although not necessarily agree with all he says, simply because he is Mormon or is conservative, etc. But we should consider his ideas….

  36. Geoff, thanks for the thoughtful response. I appreciate the more generous (re)reading of my comments. Regarding whether Olbermann calls out the Obama administration … in general, you’re right. Olbermann has been one of Obama’s biggest cheerleaders. But he has, on two occasions within the last few months, directly called out the actions of Obama and his administration and offered a scathing critique of their refusal to prosecute DoJ officials for their involvement in torture, and for their continuation of Bush-era wiretapping. They used both as examples of Obama’s failure to live up to promises he made on the campaign trail.

    And while Beck certainly did critique Bush from time to time, I’m not sure what that proves. Everyone in the media (and in the country at large) critiqued Bush during the last couple years of his presidency. And Beck seems to have rather selective memory about his expressed attitude toward Bush the last few years. Just yesterday, he claimed that he stridently opposed the $700 billion bailout plan the Bush admin. pushed through, when in reality Beck claimed that not only was the bailout necessary, but that the $700 billion was not nearly enough. Now don’t get me wrong. My point isn’t to simply pile criticism on Beck here. We all regularly say stupid things that can be proven wrong. My point rather is to simply point out that suggestions that Beck criticized Bush all the time are often exaggerated.

  37. I think Sally said it well, above. Because Glenn is not beholden to any political party, he reports on things that most are afraid to, therefore, we hear stuff way before the mainstream media even hints about it. He has done much to arouse the so-called silent majority.

    As for his impact as a Mormon and Christian, I think he does a fine job. He repeatedly pleads with his audience to pray and get to know God and your purpose in life; He speaks of his conversion and being led by the Spirit in his decisions; He continually professes his love for his wife and children; He speaks of the peace that can be found within the walls of the temple; He speaks of spiritual and temporal preparedness for the rough times that are inevitably ahead.

    While it’s no General Conference talk each time he speaks, but for the 4 hours he broadcasts his voice across America each day, he aptly represents the views of many Christians and Mormons. For those naysayers, try speaking for that long each day and not have anything wrong inadvertently slip out – and then openly admit to your mistake when you are wrong.

  38. Christopher, I know a lot of us wish we had criticized Bush more during the last nine years. If you were to speak to Beck, he’d probably have the same attitude I have, which is, “wow, I didn’t realize how bad Bush was until he left office.” I recognize that people like you realized how bad Bush was when he was in office, although for different reasons. Many fiscal conservatives are coming to the realization that Bush was our worst enemy because he made deficit spending seem to be the normal practice. His worst mistake may have been to pursue the Iraq and Afghanistan wars without considering the cost. I also never thought I would miss the days of Clinton’s economic policies. Sigh.

    So, to sum up, point taken on Beck and Bush.

  39. Glad to see that I’m not the only person who remembers Jack Anderson. Beck is Jack Anderson with histrionics. Both of them are, in the end, probably healthy for a republic like ours, but there’s a lot of iron pyrite that gets thrown up along with the occasional gold nugget.

    The questions are, first can you can stand the landslide of fool’s gold while waiting for the rare real thing? And, can you stand to be anywhere close to the mine, or would you rather it was hidden somewhere in, say, the hollows of West Virginia?

  40. Wow–I really like you comment #45 Geoff; I don’t think I have heard ANY conservative say that they were wrong about Bush. I only hear a lot of accusations at the current administration and the hope that their audience won’t get too detailed about the Bush years. Nice to hear some reflection, rather than just recovering from it.

    On Glen Beck–I remain unconvinced that he is serving an “important” role. My concerns are with his style much more than his content. I really don’t care what he says (within the realm of truth) as long as he just isn’t a total ass about it. I can accommodate LOTS of political opinions and dissent, I really can. I just don’t like the associated theatre.

    on Feelings about him from others of his ilk–perhaps this is overly cynical, but I get the strong feeling that people in his field may not like him not because of ideology or methodology, but because he is cutting into their success. I imagine that there is just so much of the public who are a part of the target market, and just so much yelling an individual can take in a day, so if they devout an hour to GB, that might be an hour they don’t listen to Rush or Hannity. That is just a guess though–no data at all.

    Interesting discussion.

  41. @Geoff B.

    Geoff B.

    Ahhh, now I see. Thanks for the clarification. Although I didn’t really intend to respond since I realized I had misunderstood part of the post’s questions, and thus didn’t answer it well as result, some new ideas came to me after realizing what you were asking. I am replying here, and not at the bottom of the page, since I don’t know if others will really want to hear this or not, but I do have some things to say about this post and Mormonism in relation to politics, in response to your questions. I do hope you know what I say, I mean with respect and hope you’ll take it objectively, because I do enjoy intellectual conversations with people who have different views than me.

    After realizing what you were asking in the post, essentially, you wanted to know if Mormon intellectuals still found merit in Beck’s muckraking journalism (notwithstanding some angst people have for him), I was a bit disappointed again, perhaps for some reasons I mentioned in my original and first post. To begin, your question about Beck contained the hidden presumption that “Mormon intellectuals” watch Beck, and that you wanted to know if or if not Mormons could still find value or something redeeming in his work. First, I would humbly caution this path, because it presumes that Mormons are Republicans, and that Mormon intellectuals would be watching Beck (and that any intellectual would watch Beck). Importantly, not all (American) Mormons are Republican; Mormonism is not so homogenous (which so many Mormons struggle with—its like when a person stands in a Sunday Priesthood meeting and asks the audience to think back on their missions, though this person didn’t realize that not everyone in the audience went on a mission, and when my Utah family and friends send me racist Obama emails), especially when one starts talking about educated Mormons, or Mormons working in academia, or world Mormonism. (and especially when one talks about Mormons outside of the Rocky Mountain region). And, to be honest, I would humbly be very interested to know what your definition is for an intellectual, or perhaps a Mormon intellectual. That would perhaps be the most rewarding thing from this whole conversation, since I like to hear what others think about this.

    Perhaps if you wanted my definition of an intellectual, I would say one that has a good education, see’s above the intellectual plateaus found among the populous, has read and understood progressive history, literature, and philosophy, and other—a person that doesn’t read the Twilight books, but books by Tolstoy or something along those lines. And a person with an open mind; objective, and able to see and understand the other person’s view. And a person that is teachable. And though that’s not a perfect definition, and a simple and short one, I think that will do for how. Which brings me to my next point.

    I was also troubled, perhaps pained, to hear that “Mormon intellectuals” would be regularly watching Beck’s program. Not because I think an intellectual has to be non-Republican (though I think one could say the majority of university professors in the US are non-Republican, especially among the humanities disciplines, wherein I work—not to say that one has to be a professor to be an intellectual), but because apparently some Mormons consider Beck’s program to actually be a muckraking work. (yes, I have watch his program a few times, it was painful) While I surely don’t know all academics, nor have I talked politics with all my colleges and associates across the US and Europe, and there are likely to be assumptions to the rule, I have yet to meet a professor that thinks what Fox News is doing it muckraking; most see it as fear-mongering for political gain; spreading hate and lies to win the uneducated American’s vote. (with all due respect, though I realize that is a bit harsh) Its one thing to do investigative journalism, and to find flaws in a politician or program, but its another to spread half-truths, take things out of context, make up statistics on the spot, and a host of other flaws Beck and the Fox News crew has been doing. This was troubling because I would challenge the idea that a person is an intellectual if they regularly watch and enjoy Fox News. An intellectual would perhaps watch that various politically biased news medias if they wanted to find a middle ground (not that American news is any good anyhow), but most intellectuals struggle with even watching Fox News. I’ve tried to watch Beck, but he is so wrong on so many points, and not even political points, but on general knowledge.

    Thus, and in reply to the original question, I surely hope that a Mormon intellectual would not even believe the filth peddled on Beck’s program. Hopefully a Mormon would see the program for what it is, but that hasn’t seemed to have happened to many Mormons. Mormonism has being going through its Wissenschaft des Mormonens with the advent of Dialogue, the Journal of Mormon History, and other LDS intellectual outlets, but these ideas have yet to reach the wider Mormon audience. Even on the Mormon Archipelago, there is a wide range of bloggers and readers, some more intellectual than others, and some of the same old same old conservative orthodox Mormon blogs. I hope in time Mormonism follows the Jewish path in politics, but that’s just my opinion.

    But perhaps one more thing, I think we could ask some great questions about this topic, since I think many of your readers are Republican. Since you have mentioned many Mormons have expressed their dislike of Beck, I think some more revealing and objective questions about a different aspect could be asked. Such as; How has Glenn Beck and the journalism on Fox News impacted your feelings about the Republican Party and the Democratic Party? How much of their message do you agree with or not agree with and why? How Republican is Mormonism and is the Republican message becoming more attractive or less attractive to Mormons?

    Anyhow, thanks again Geoff. I do hope this conversation is ok and I have done my best to keep the topic on neutral grounds, though I do admit that some will surely not like what I have said. Thanks again for your patience with me and keep up the good work at the MS.

  42. Well I came late to the party here, but I’d like to thank Geoff for the opportunity to read a blog post on Beck that isn’t filled with histrionics and name calling. I didn’t think that was possible. 🙂

    I’ll start by saying I don’t like Glenn Beck. But I’ll save you all the frustrated diatribe I’ve subjected others to. Instead I’d like to bring up just a couple of things that haven’t been discussed so far in these comments.

    A number of people brought up Beck’s tactics of being “bombastic and over the top.” While I dislike that kind of so-called “journalism” I suppose I can let that slide. (For what it’s worth, I don’t like Olbermann’s over the top method’s either. I used to like him when he first started, but decidedly not since he’s gotten more extreme.) But I would like to point out that while Beck does on many occasions get things right and often “hits the nail on the head,” he also has said a number of things that are outright bald-face provable lies. And while he may consider himself a “rodeo clown” a very large number of people go to him for news and information. They consider him a valued and *trusted* news source. And those people are being told things that are untrue.

    But even that can be brushed under the rug if you have to. There are unfortunately dozens of other “news” shows that regularly include provable lies in their shows. Both on the right and the left. It’s actually a sad testament to the pathetic nature of our current journalistic mentality in today’s world. It really doesn’t matter if something’s true or not as long as you get a flash in the pan and it sells advertising.

    But what eats at me more than what I’ve mentioned previously is the nature of how Beck pulls at the fears of people. For very valid (and some not so valid) reasons, a lot of people are afraid, distrustful and nervous of how their lives have changed in the last ten or so years. There are dozens of reasons for this: a blowback from Watergate, Clinton’s idiotic dalliances, 9/11, Bush’s blunders, wars, the economic meltdown, loss of jobs, etc. People are scared. I know I have been on occasion.

    But instead of helping people to understand their fears, instead of helping them know that some of their fears are false, instead of helping to heal the nation that has become so dangerously fractured, Beck and others like him (Olbermann included) have sowed the anger and the fear into a fever pitch. They are using the fear to plant into far too many people a feeling of “us vs. them.” The “real” Americans (on both sides) are in a war against the Socialists or the Nazis or the Racists or the Bigots. Far, far too much on the airwaves and the Internet scream out against “THEM.” Both sides have web sites that are nothing more than political punching bags for the other side. They raise themselves to a fever pitch and scream out at the injustice and evil that is embodied by “Them.” They bring weapons to political protests, they get into fights with the other camp, they kill activists against abortion, they kill guards in the Holocaust museum. They scream “you lie” to the President and then the other side screams “he lied” on TV. No one escapes from this, it’s in our face every day and the only result is to make even those who are not active in politics take sides and pick fights. Even our LDS blogs are generally affected by this division. And as a slightly left-leaning Centrist Mormon, I’ve felt it in church far too often. The nation is becoming more and more divided each day this goes on. I’ve heard many people in other countries who are surprised and appalled by our country’s lack of simple common civility between different opinions.

    Regrettably, Glenn Beck and others are reveling in this. They are thriving on this extremism. It’s what has made Beck so popular and rich.

    Well, “them” is us. “Them” are our brothers and sisters even though the extremists might not like their point of view. And more importantly, this diatribe we are subjected to is a polar opposite to what the Gospel teaches us. What is happening to “love one another?” I don’t remember a stipulation about love one another except if he or she is a Democrat or Republican. Extremism of *any* kind is not the Lord’s way. His way lies along the concepts of patience, love and understanding. As in trying to understand the other’s point of view. We might disagree with him or her, but that doesn’t give us a reason to call them a Racist or a Nazi to their face. Instead we need to welcome them in and learn from them and have them learn from us. No, it doesn’t always work out the way you want, but trying to come to terms and attempting to understand each other is much, much better than the alternative.

    And this is why I don’t like Glenn Beck. He probably isn’t an extremist himself, but he is using the extremist’s vocabulary and passion to fuel the fires of antagonism and division. And this is not, in my personal view, what a good upstanding practicing member of the Church of JESUS CHRIST should be doing. As a public figure who belongs to the true church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he has an obligation to his faith to promote it, as do we all. And to promote it he should be teaching others not to be antagonistic against their brothers and sisters, but to be understanding and loving towards them. To attempt to heal other’s problems. To bring people together instead of helping to break the nation apart.

    In addition, I’ve never met Glenn Beck in person but I’ve read that many people think he is very personable and likable. And apparently he is active in church and does a great deal of good for other people with donations and other charitable actions. This is highly commendable and he should be praised for it. But that doesn’t condone the fact that he is doing the quite the opposite of charitable work in his day-job.

  43. #13 Comparing Beck with Captain Moroni is something I will have to cite again I am sure.

    Geoff, just a couple points:

    Sinclair and Steinbeck are giant literary figures (both won the Pulitzer Prize and Steinbeck the Nobel) and I would not call them muckrakers, though I see what you are try to say. Most importantly, Sinclair and Steinbeck are leftists and therefore I am horrified that they would be compared to Beck. Both are involved in some for of social criticism for sure. Maybe Beck is like a Molly Ivins.

    I would not mind going to Church with Beck and I bet he would be fun at ward parties. I do not think he is embarrassing to the Church, at least no more than any number of things from our history. Within Mormon culure, Beck represents the E. T. Benson and Cleon Skousen segment of our culture. I do not agree with a bit of it, but it is a huge part of our culture. I would be offended, I guess, if I wasn’t have so much fun laughing at it. The views are in many ways creepy, but they are very fringe and I do not see them coming to power. The Constitution protects us against these type of factions. Thank goodness.

  44. Ardis, of all the things to dislike about Limbaugh I’m surprised that his acknowledgement of God as the source of his talent is the one that you mention. What is arrogant about saying your talent was loaned to you by God?!?

  45. Suppose Glenn Beck is right: Barack Obama is surrounding himself (at least his “czars”) with Socialists, Marxists, and Communists. He courts Castro and Chavez. Chavez has closed down the broadcast media and newspapers of his opposition. Obama caves in to Russia on missle defense. Obama not just sides with Chavez’s friend Zelaya, but is using all the economic and diplomatic sanctions he can to force Honduras’ Supreme Court and Congress to accept someone who flaunted their Constitution. Is a four-fold increase in the U.S. budget deficit a conscious attempt to de-rail U.S. economic power?

    Has the Church flourished in Cuba and Venezuela, and would it flourish in Honduras if a totalitarian government were established there? Is Free Agency, freedom of the press, and freedom of conscience important to the growth of the Church and turning people toward the Savior? I believe so.

  46. I don’t think I have heard ANY conservative say that they were wrong about Bush.

    Really? I hear it all the time.

    I think a fair case could be made that Bush destroyed the Republican party at least as bad as Nixon, if not worse.

    I do think that folks like Beck, Hannity, and others are pretty hypocritical in how they approached Bush. When Obama does something Bush did they go crazy. When conservative protestors do what they criticized liberal protestors for they excuse it. And I think this kind of “team ethics” (i.e. double standards) is pretty common in political discussions by all sides. (Unfortunately)

  47. Wow. I had no idea Glenn Beck was so popular. What I’ve seen of his style hasn’t appealed to me, though his book _Common Sense_ was not a total loss. I do wish he provided better documentation, but I tend to be a minority reader who likes footnotes.

    @Zach. I think asking what an intellectual is, is a valid question. You make a lot of assumptions in your comment about what an intellectual will think or believe though. Interestingly enough I’ve read Twilight and Dostoevsky (Tolstoy is still on the too be read shelf in my library). I have an advanced degree (M.S.) does this make me an intellectual or a member of the unlearned masses? I guarantee that we see very differently politically.

    I work with a lot of really bright people. One of the hardest things for me to wrap my head around when I talked politics with them is how so many intelligent well meaning people can have such divergent political opinions. It appears that the answer comes in how you see the world and what your underlying assumptions are about humanity. These things can not be changed easily, and often are the underlying causes of political discord.

    That stated, I would be interested in hearing how people define an intellectual. I’m not sure if I qualify, and for that matter at times I’m not sure I want to. :o)

  48. @Doug D.

    Thanks for your response. I do agree, its strange how otherwise intelligent people can have such divergent political opinions. People get real hung up on politics, and often try to believe anything that they want to believe, on both sides of the political spectrum. As for my statement about intellectuals and my assumptions, I would agree I do make assumptions (which may or may not be correct), but I did so intentionally because I am trying to lift up the concept of what an intellectual is, rather than saying that anyone can claim to be an intellectual. And oh, if you enjoyed Dostoevsky, you’ll only find more enjoyment with Tolstoy. Thanks again.

  49. I disagree heartily with Zach’s definition of an intellectual. I would define an intellectual as anybody who is trying to do some deep thinking about issues of importance, who reads regularly, and who studies the issues. In my opinion, nearly all people in the Bloggernacle are intellectuals in one way or another — we come here to explore issues of Mormonism on a deeper level and to consider things that we don’t have time to do at Church.

    I would also like to point out that one of the smartest men I’ve ever known is my father-in-law, who does not have a college degree. He has basic common sense and regularly makes predictions that come true. (One example: he predicted four years ago that the ethanol program would be a complete flop, and he was right). He is not an intellectual, but he is smarter than most people who call themselves intellectuals.

  50. “Perhaps if you wanted my definition of an intellectual, I would say one that has a good education, see’s above the intellectual plateaus found among the populous, has read and understood progressive history, literature, and philosophy, and other—a person that doesn’t read the Twilight books, but books by Tolstoy or something along those lines.”

    Dang it. All that grad school for nothing. I read Twilight.

  51. Geoff (I am avoiding work at the moment),

    He said in the original post:
    “So I praise Glenn Beck in this small area — he is an old-fashioned, muck-raking journalist bringing up uncomfortable questions and challenging those in power.”

    But why then are Bushman, Nibley, and I fools for questioning and challenging capitalism?

  52. Wow, that really got your goat, didn’t it? 🙂

    I can only speak to Bushman and Nibley. As I said in the post, I have no problem with somebody criticizing capitalism, even though I disagree with that perspective. But you need to acknowledge the real world. And the real-world alternatives are social democratic systems that are capitalistic. Sweden is a capitalist society – a social democratic capitalistic society, but a capitalist society nonetheless. As I said, if Bushman had said, “I don’t like the U.S. brand of capitalism — we have to do a better job of helping the poor” I would have rolled my eyes, because I think the costs of such a system far outweigh the benefits, but I would not have written a post about the issue. That is the standard social democratic argument — I have been familiar with it for decades, and it is a completely legitimate argument (even though I don’t agree with it).

    What is NOT legitimate (in my opinion) is to say as Bushman did that Mormonism completely rejects capitalism in toto. Again, Sweden is a capitalist society. What Bushman means to say is that he personally rejects American capitalism because it is mean-spirited, hurts the poor, etc. So what he said does not even line up with his real beliefs. Same thing applies to Nibley. Both of them realize that when they say “we hate capitalism, we need an alternative, let’s take communalism,” that such a statement is nonsensical because it will never happen until the Millennium. What they really mean is, “the United States needs to be more like Western Europe.” So, my point is, they need to be honest about what they believe.

    As I said, I have no problem with bringing up uncomfortable questions and challenging those in power — that is what the left does every day. As I said above, I like it when muckraking journalists dig up corruption — that is a wonderful thing about a democracy. What I don’t like about Bushman’s position is A)he is not honest about what he really believes because he really doesn’t believe a communalist society is a realistic alternative right now B)he is really criticizing American-style capitalism, not social democratic capitalism, so he should be more precise in his language.

    Is that clearer now?

  53. Geoff B.

    Thanks for your response. While it appears we don’t agree on what an intellectual is (though we may after a clarification of term), I understand your perspective. You are very correct that intelligence is surely not confined to just the educated, or even the overly bookish, many people just seem to have great innate common sense and street smarts, such as your father-in-law (and I have great family like him also). I agree wholeheartedly with you on that. But I think that is the point. Our divergence of opinion is along these lines: I am believe an intelligent person is different than an intellectual. (I am not saying that non-intellectuals are not smart, so please don’t miss understand me). Intellectuals are often defined as a group of educated analytical thinkers that have put their intellectual prowess to use when discussing aspects of life. For example, since you so kindly referred me to the definition of muckraking, I’ll pass on one about what an intellectual is:

    And Geoff, with all due respect, please don’t take all this personal. Your responses seem to contain some angst that someone is disagreeing with you or presenting a different opinion (though perhaps I am mistaken). I heartily admit I don’t have all the answers, and sometimes only questions or a perspective that I hope prompts discussion, so please know that my written tone may sound harsher than it really is. I do welcome your and other thoughts. I am indeed sorry of my wording is a bit bold, and my anger (or challenge) a person’s worldview, but I think that is the point of intellectual discussion. I always love it when someone can change my mind.

    So with this under our belts, is it safe to assume you see “nearly all people in the Bloggernacle are intellectuals in one way or another — we come here to explore issues of Mormonism on a deeper level and to consider things that we don’t have time to do at Church.” If so, you are essentially saying that the LDS ‘everyman or everywoman’ is an intellectual. I assume this is a term we are hung up on, unless you see what an intellectual is as different than the definition that I provided? If so, we will indeed have to disagree. What are your thoughts? And I would like to hear your thoughts on

    That said, I would still like to hear some ideas on my past questions: Such as; How has Glenn Beck and the journalism on Fox News impacted your feelings about the Republican Party and the Democratic Party? How much of their message do you agree with or not agree with and why? How Republican is Mormonism and is the Republican message becoming more attractive or less attractive to Mormons? And, (wink), I’ll add one more clincher since I think it will raise an eyebrow with some of your readers; Can a good Mormon be a Democrat?

    And oh, by the way, that was a joke about Twilight, so don’t take it too seriously. I think she has written some great books, but I wouldn’t call them intellectual books, not that an intellectual can’t read her books. But so to say, paraphrasing Jeff Foxworthy, if an episode of Walker Texas Ranger changed your life, you might be a redneck (and I would add, not an intellectual). Hope you see the humor in this past sentence, and no one takes it too serious.

    Lastly, and perhaps sadly, I do think after this debate I won’t be reading the MS too much since I have felt like my ideas aren’t wanted, since they are different. Is it correct to assume my ideas aren’t wanted? (though I agree, I can’t claim I am right on all things).

  54. @Geoff B.
    I am pretty sure that we did not read the same article. You can have Beck. I will take Bushman. We can both be happy.

    I realized that you were kidding about Twilight. Do not worry, Geoff does passive aggressive quite well.

  55. Zach, you have got to be the most high-maintenance commenter we’ve had on the blog in a long time. Your comments are wanted — you are sincere, you write well, and we appreciate other viewpoints. I pointed out way, way up at the beginning that I did not want this to turn into another post filled with Glenn Beck bashing. There is some history involved. Every time anybody writes anything about Glenn Beck, there are 50 commenters who need to point out how much they hate him, how he isn’t representative of Mormonism, etc. So that perspective has been presented. This post is meant to present another perspective, and if you read through the comments you will see a lot of other people appreciate the fact that this is not your typical “we hate Glenn Beck” bash-fest. You can only read the same thing so many times before you get tired of it.

    As for your questions, I am not going to answer all of them, but I would like to point out that thanks for John McCain and George Bush, and somewhat thanks to Glenn Beck, I am somewhat less Republican than I was a year or two ago. I find myself much more in tune with libertarians than Republicans these days. I think I am not alone — many, many conservatives are sick and tired of the Republican party and embarrassed by the last nine years of Republican behavior. Can a good Mormon be a Democrat? The answer is of course. Harry Reid is, by all accounts, a good Mormon (although a horrible politician). I know literally hundreds of fellow Mormons who are Democrats and socialists, and they are good, upstanding members of the Church whom I am pleased to call my friends.

  56. @Geoff B.


    Thanks for your response and patience since I have been “the most high-maintenance” commenter for some time, which answered my question perfectly. I’ll back off from here unless someone else responds specifically to me. Thanks again and I did enjoy this rare voyage with the MS, and oh, I did get a chuckle at how you put “Democrats and socialists” next to each other. That was also telling for me about how Fox News and Beck has influenced Mormons. Cheers.

  57. I would tend to agree that Beck doesn’t represent Conservatism, but I tend to think he represents the populist future of the Republican Party (libertarian and apocalyptic). I think it comes from the time spent courting the religious right and all the spent setting up government itself as inherently evil. So, see Beck as the ultimate fruits of the Reagan Revolution gone awry, not because Beck is a Reagan Conservative, but because he took those ideas and juiced them to the nth degree.

  58. John C, we had the Bush version of the GOP, which was a disaster. Sadly we’re getting the religious conspiracy minded version of the GOP now. I have to agree with Tom Delay (who I don’t think was good for the GOP either) in that the GOP needs a leader and has none. Thus it can’t take advantage of the weakness the Democrats have astoundingly created so quickly.

    I’d say Romney might, however he is already once again coming off as amazingly opportunistic and flip flopping.

    I guess the best we can hope for is Huntsman comes back from China and saves the GOP. I doubt that many of the “Beck-ites” would stand for Huntsman though.

  59. I guess my problem with calling him a “muckraker” is that I thought muckrakers were supposed to report on things that are actually scary or threatening. Young adult volunteerism at soup kitchens and whatnot is really Obama building a secret army or some such? Obama is planning concentration camps for conservatives? Death panels? Beck’s bread and butter isn’t exposing scandal and speaking truth to power, it’s creating hysteria out of nothing and then exploiting it.

    If he wants to do muckraking, why not limit focus to any number of actual things our government needs to be challenged on (NSA warrantless eavesdropping or whatever it is they do, continued CIA black sites, congress bought and paid for by health industry, etc, etc)? I think he actually hurts the cause of the 4th estate, keeping government in check, when he causes people to be consumed with distracting shiny rocks instead of real problems. (Granted, that could be said of 99% of our sorry media–I’m just saying that your claim that Beck represents a departure strikes me as wishful thinking.)

  60. Ah, thank you #51. Excellent. That’s exactly what I was getting at with the exploiting hysteria.

  61. Clark,
    I think that the grand ol’ party has simply gotten too big tent. What you see in the GOP is the same problem that the Dems have always had: too many internal divisions to get anything done. Short of getting a leader, I don’t see either party pulling itself together (I hoped Obama would do this, but alas).

    At present, the only thing I foresee happening is the Constitution party becoming a legitimate third party in Utah (and possibly in other rural areas of the country).

  62. Sister blah 2 (and others), do you care that the NEA director was promoting the Obama political project, and organizing artists in favor of that project, or that Van Jones (a Truther and admitted Communist) was welcomed into the White House and named to a high-level govt position? Do you care about the number of czars in the White House? Before you say no, because you agree with their goals, please stop for a second and ask yourself how you would respond if a Republican NEA director had asked artists to support his political goals. How would you respond if a KKK leader were a czar at the White House? Yes, the Bush administration had a lot of czars — two wrongs don’t make a right (as Beck repeatedly points out).

    So, I respectfully submit you are missing the point of the muckraking — you need to consider how you would feel if another administration were doing the same thing.

  63. Geoff B. wrote:
    The Bloggernacle has already passed judgement on Glenn Beck, and, in short, we hate him.

    I’m not interested in this becoming another post where everybody points out how much they hate Glenn Beck. That has already been done. Repeatedly.

    If you want your comment to stay on this post, you will refrain from comments telling us all how much you hate Glenn Beck. We already know most Mormons on the Bloggernacle hate Glenn Beck. Your opinion has been noted. We get it. You hate Glenn Beck.

    It is worth pointing out that I have heard “traditional” conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others express that they hate him just as much as your average liberal at FMH. So, hating Glenn Beck is an area of rare bipartisan agreement.

    Zach, I don’t see anything in your comment except “I hate Glenn Beck because he is a right-winger, and I wish other Mormons were as smart as I am so they could hate him also.”

    It is probably fair to say that I may have exaggerated by saying [Beck’s fellow radio hosts] “hate” him.

    I didn’t “call out” liberals on Glenn Beck at all. I acknowledged that they hate him.

    Every time anybody writes anything about Glenn Beck, there are 50 commenters who need to point out how much they hate him, how he isn’t representative of Mormonism, etc. So that perspective has been presented. This post is meant to present another perspective, and if you read through the comments you will see a lot of other people appreciate the fact that this is not your typical “we hate Glenn Beck” bash-fest.

    Indeed it isn’t: Instead of 50 commenters saying they hate Glenn Beck, Geoff B. says 50 times that other commenters hate Glenn Beck. Progress!

  64. Since Van Jone is actually a European Social Democrat (or a social democrat captalist) and not a communist (he used the term for impact) maybe we should not condemn him as one. Maybe you are not are interested in the type of honesty that you demand of others after all.

    “How would you respond if a KKK leader were a czar at the White House?”

    Name one person in the administration that would be a left version of a KKK leaeer.

    “Before you say no, because you agree with their goals, please stop for a second and ask yourself how you would respond if a Republican NEA director had asked artists to support his political goals.”

    What a scary thought. Even pretending that Reagan is back in office make me cringe.

  65. Chris H, last warning on ad hominems. If you can’t control yourself, please go read something else that will make you less angry. I don’t hang around your blog and pick fights with you. If you can’t disagree agreeably, your comments will be deleted. Thanks for understanding.

    I urge readers to look at this Wikipedia entry on Van Jones (read the whole thing). They can decide for themselves whether he was worth paying tax dollars for. I consider Van Jones the equivalent of a KKK leader. Others may disagree.

  66. @Christopher #43 “I get the strong feeling that people in his field
    may not like him not because of ideology or methodology, but because
    he is cutting into their success.”

    True, but it’s not quite that simple. One would assume that an hour
    listening to Beck is an hour not listening to, say, Hannity. Radio
    isn’t necessarily a zero sum game. People who like talk radio tend to
    like a lot of it. Just because you listen to Beck from 9 to noon
    doesn’t mean you won’t listen to Rush from moon to 3 or Hannity from 3
    to 6. Competing time slots play a role, but consider that people like
    Hannity and Levin’s time slots don’t compete with Beck’s.

    They’re not competing for radio listenership, they’re competing for
    status. What’s funny is that Beck almost accidentally advanced to the
    head of the pack.

  67. @James #51 “But I would like to point out that while Beck does on many
    occasions get things right and often “hits the nail on the head,” he
    also has said a number of things that are outright bald-face provable

    Like what?

    @James again “But what eats at me more than what I’ve mentioned
    previously is the nature of how Beck pulls at the fears of people.”

    The mistake his detractors make here is translating Beck’s “fearmongering” into greed. Yes, he makes a lot of money doing it.
    But consider the fact that this fear-based tone is fairly recent. Up
    until a couple years ago, Beck’s show was humor-based and lighthearted. That’s how he built the huge fan base.

    When Beck switched to fearmongering, ratings dropped (think during his
    floundering CNN days and before his show on Fox was even a twinkle in
    Beck’s or Ailes’ eyes). He lost a lot of that original fan base with
    the tone switch. I guess what I’m saying is he didn’t calculate the
    potential success of that tone, then make the decision to switch to
    it. He switched to it facing a lot of opposition both from fan base
    and staff, only to see big success later.

    @everybody who thinks Beck was AWOL on Bush: Pull the
    transcripts. Beck was SCATHING on Bush from about 2006 forward.

  68. @Zach #63 “That said, I would still like to hear some ideas on my past
    questions: Such as; How has Glenn Beck and the journalism on Fox News
    impacted your feelings about the Republican Party and the Democratic

    I think the impact of pundits on me is pretty minimal, but if anything, Beck has made me look at the Republican Party in a more critical way.

    “How much of their message do you agree with or not agree with and why?”

    Separate Beck from the greater FNC establishment on this. I agree with about 90% of what Beck says. Believe it or not, agreeing with Beck sucks. I don’t want him to be right. Thing is, while I’ve criticized tactic or delivery elements, I’ve never been able to prove his canon claims (well laid-out arguments as opposed to brief-lived, off-cuff brain farts- like the oft quoted ‘he supported the stimulus’). If somebody’s willing to prove Beck wrong on his canon claims, I’m willing to listen.

    “How Republican is Mormonism and is the Republican message becoming more attractive or less attractive to Mormons?”

    Greater Mormonism is not so Republican. The promises (not the realities) of American Progressivism and Obamist Marxism are becoming
    more attractive to the younger Mormon generation.

    “Can a good Mormon be a Democrat?”

    Sure. Democrats aren’t the problem. Radical Leftism is. To be clear, though, as somebody who strains to pay fast offerings, I’d rather my bishopric take more of a Republican approach to welfare.

  69. I’m late to this party, and this comment is only tangential, so I apologize in advance.

    I don’t listen to Beck. I don’t listen to Rush. I don’t listen to Maddow. I don’t listen to O’Reilly. I don’t listen to Olberman. I don’t listen to any talking heads. I decided long ago that you just couldn’t trust anybody paid to have an inflammatory opinion everyday on every subject. I do read op-eds and the like, and I’ll watch shows like Charlie Rose, largely because the opinions are better thought out (regardless of what they are) and the content more vetted. So Beck, for me, is about as good as any other talking head, which is to say, not all that great.

  70. D. Sirmize (#81) “Like what?”

    From five minutes using Google, I found these examples:

    Both Beck (and Hannity for that matter) aired a video of an ACORN employee who allegedly murdered her husband. While reporting the shooting is valid for obvious reasons, it wasn’t a murder because the husband survived. His survival, however, was never reported and the “murder” was cause for Beck to garner a great deal of outrage and hatred against ACORN. (For the record, I’m not an ACORN supporter or detractor. If the allegations against ACORN are true, they deserve all they are getting and more. But until proof is given one way or the other I’m reserving my judgement. However I do think we are seeing a political witch hunt created by Beck and others.)

    Beck said that Cass Sunstein thinks it is “ok to take organs from anyone who has died without their prior consent.” The truth is that Sunstein only suggested that the system be changed from an automatic assumption of opt-out for organ donors to an assumption of opt-in. Or, in other words changing the policy to “presumed consent” to save many more lives. This idea would not preclude anyone from their choice of donating organs or choosing not to. You can still say no with no repercussion. Also, this was an opinion; an idea, and is in no way a policy or is it being enacted by the government.

    Back in June he said that the US was the only country that had a natural birthright provision. Here’s the worldwide list:

    He said that the directory of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, “has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population.”

    And, of course, he called the President a racist.

    There are quite a few more, but I doubt listing them will be of additional use. And I’m sure you can pick these apart one by one and make excuses for each one. But I am utilizing these examples to show an overarching pattern of Beck’s methodology and practice of fomenting anger and fear, not to point out specific instances of Beck’s misinformation. And yes, many other “newscasters” can be given similar lists. I’m sure many people could make a list for Olberman that would be just as damning. But just because left does it does not preclude the fact that the truth has, in many instances been shifted, altered or fabricated by Beck to create a feeling of anti-Government, anti-Left and anti-Obama rage in his viewers and listeners. As I said in my previous post (#51), he is fermenting violent dissent.

    Dissent against our government in and of itself is good; that’s how we weed out the cruft from our government, by exposing them to the light. That’s what the moderate left was trying to do during the Bush administration. (The radical left was just as misguided then as the radical right is now, in my opinion.) But violent dissent and vitriol is not good for anyone. Not when violent dissent is tearing apart the ability to speak rationally with each other. Not when dissent is voiced by those in power who speak in anger (however blithely) of succession. Not when a significant number of people are sufficiently angry at what Glenn Beck and others say that they begin to act out on their anger against the non-existent “THEM.”

  71. Excellent point, jimbob.

    I learned the same lesson after I realized that I was having the same reaction to the different shows (whether O’Reilly or Olberman). They all just leave me angry and frustrated — and that’s because they are, by definition, created to push a certain point of view (vs. an honest attempt to arrive at some sort of objective truth).

    Charlie Rose is a stud. Praise God for a TV host who actually lets his guests say two words.

  72. Okay, I have a question especially for Chris H. and Zach, though I welcome comments from one and all. Please no one take offense, I’m really trying to understand this.

    So, there’s a problem I’ve never been able to solve / reconcile and I’m hoping one or all of you can help with. Mormonism has many tenets, but I think we can all agree that two basic ones are free agency and trying to be Christ-like. In trying to be Christ-like we need to help the poor, weary, and down-trodden. Consecration is the higher law, and the one we should all strive to live. Capitalism is almost as far removed from consecration as you can get in many ways. However, I find socialism or communism to be even further removed from consecration. When consecration was enacted people were called (like a church calling) to consecrate their belongings and move to Zion. These people were spiritually ready, and had the choice to say no thank you and stay with the saints in Ohio instead of moving to Zion. In a socialist government, we are not given a choice regarding programs being funded to help the poor and needy. Taxes effectively consecration a portion of our belongings against our will since we can’t say no to them.

    How do liberal Mormons (for lack of a better way of putting it) reconcile the removal of free agency from people in order to help other people? This is the thing I’ve never been able to reconcile. I see the good intentions of liberal governments providing for the poor and needy, but I also see the forced removal of other people’s belongings to accomplish that. Robin Hood-esque I guess. Do other people see taxes differently than I do, and hence can reconcile this? Or am I missing some key thing here?

    As I said previously. This is not meant as an attack on anyone, it is a genuine inquiry in to differences of opinions. This is something I have not been able to understand, and hope to see other people’s perspectives on.

  73. “And I’m sure you can pick these apart one by one and make excuses for each one.”

    Indeed I can, and quite handily. But 1) I’m not going to hijack Geoff’s post, and 2) It’s time wasted, since you have already made up your mind.

    I will say that it seems you’re getting most of your info second-hand, which is the big Googling Beck overwhelmingly yields results from liberal institutions and anti-Beck blogs. If most of Beck’s critics would actually listen to his radio show rather than do some lazy Googling. For example, listening to Beck’s show or watching the TV program on the day the ACORN “murder allegations” were made would clear your first example right up. And just to be clear, he offered the following disclaimer during that show:

    “I don’t know but we haven’t been even able to confirm from the state of California whether Theresa’s husband from ten years ago was killed. Or if he’s dead. Or if she even had a husband. Did she make the story up? I don’t know. Nobody is asking questions.”

    So instead of being outraged or disturbed by an ACORN rep who (even though she was lying) stood there without batting an eye and told this elaborate story about planning and carrying out the murder of her husband, while helping the undercover couple justify underage prostitution…

    So instead of being outraged by the content of the video, they attack the guy who airs it?

  74. @Doug D. #86 Might I suggest we not go there in this thread? It’s a complex argument, and yes, they have a rebuttal for every one of your points.

  75. D. Sirmize, and Geoff. How do I start a thread to discuss that, assuming there is interest? Can anyone post a thread on Mstar?

  76. D. Sirmize (#87) “It’s time wasted, since you have already made up your mind.”

    Not necessarily. I am decidedly open to your side of the equation. As I mentioned before, I’m a Centrist; I’m a moderate. I lean a little bit to the left, of course, but that is mostly in response of the rise in power of the radical Right. If it were the radical Left instead who had taken over the Democrats and was causing so much trouble for the country, I’d be shifted to the right in response. In short, I am anti-radicalism or anti-extremism in my views.

    Your clarification about my first example is welcome. I withdraw it from the list. If you can refute the others I will accept them as well. My list was cobbled together, as you say, from Googling. I dislike Beck, but not to the point of keeping a personal list of offenses handy at all times. 🙂 And it is likely my list came from liberal institutions. But just because they might have come from a liberal institution does not automatically make the information false. Just as if you pulled information from a right-leaning blog, for example, wouldn’t automatically make your facts incorrect.

    However, as I said above, I was not creating a list just to catch Glenn Beck in a number of lies. But it was instead a response to your query and to further illustrate my overarching view of his methodologies and practices in a more macroscopic and general view. So if you’d like, we can discount the list above as distracting and I will instead focus on the results of his words instead of the words themselves.

    Beck is the creator, for the most part, of the 9/12 project. I’ve read the 9 Principles and 12 values and I agree with them; they are very much in keeping with my point of view, especially as a Mormon. I also agree that there are severe problems with our government. And, as Beck says, if we pull back the curtain we will see a great deal of corruption and power in the wrong places. That is the case no matter who is President or which party has power in Washington. Power corrupts. And there’s actually a few other things he’s said I agree with, especially back before he joined Fox News. His tribute to President Hinkley was moving and very appropriate, I thought. My estimation of him actually rose a lot after I watched that. And because of all of these things I can see a little bit of why so many people like him and watch him. My estimation of him never really rose above him being just another talking head on TV, though. Mainly because I have an antagonism with the sorry state of news reporting in America today.

    However despite all of that, I dislike him now because of his extremism he’s been espousing since he joined Fox News. You may not see it as extremism, but I do and I believe it is almost exclusively on that point where we differ from each other on the subject of Glenn Beck. I see him as espousing extremist views (even if he himself is not actually an extremist) because of the reaction of those who are listening to him. The people who hold placards saying “Glenn Beck for President” that are right next to another placard saying “Obama is a Nazi.” Beck is creating fear by repeatedly saying that the Obama administration is Socialist, among many other things. In my view, social causes such as Health Care Reform, Medicare or even the creation of National Parks does not equal a Social state. Socialism is an economic and political ideology in which the state controls the production and distribution of resources. Social security, unemployment insurance, child welfare, financial aid and many others are social policies. Is the United States a socialist country because it has Medicaid or Medicare? Or is Britain a socialist country because it has universal health insurance? No. The fact that most countries have social policies to address the challenges of the vulnerable does not make them socialist. State control of the means, production and distribution of goods and services are the policies that make a country socialistic.

    Anything other than this simple common sense depiction of Socialism is fear-mongering. I would heartily welcome a rational and intelligent debate about Health Care or any other of the current topics up for political debate at the moment. But far, far too much time and energy is being spent yelling at each other instead of crossing the isle and coming to terms and agreement or compromise with each other. And a good part of the reason for the yelling and anger in America today is because of the anger and resentment that is being caused by hate radio and other media programs that have a very strong ideological bent to them.

    As Hunter in #85 very eloquently said, “I learned the same lesson after I realized that I was having the same reaction to the different shows (whether O’Reilly or Olberman). They all just leave me angry and frustrated — and that’s because they are, by definition, created to push a certain point of view (vs. an honest attempt to arrive at some sort of objective truth).”

    These programs leave people angry and frustrated. It doesn’t matter if they are on the Right with Beck and Limbaugh or the Left with Olbermann and Randy Rhoads. They are partisan extremists and cause only anger and frustration in people. So what good can come of this type of exposure? Tell me how any form of extremism can be put to good use? How can creating an angry populace cause any good except to keep the politicians who hold these extremist views in power? Extremism feeds on itself and can only continue to grow and fester in our political dialogue until, as Beck says, ironically, we won’t recognize our own country anymore.

    That is why I don’t like Glenn Beck.

  77. Geoff,
    While it is obvious that Van Jones is a very radical person, I didn’t find him advocating violence (in the wiki entry), so I’m still going to say that comparison to a KKK member is a bit much. Maybe comparison to Bill Kristol or somebody like that.

  78. James, I think you have made your point. Remember the purpose of this post was not to present yet another litany of reasons to dislike Glenn Beck. Your comment basically does that. Having said that, I think your point about Glenn stirring up fear is a valid one, and one for which many, many, many conservatives have criticized him. He is the ultimate fear-monger and doomsday predictor. In this sense, he is almost a caricature of himself (and sometimes I think he knows it).

    The point where your comment falls apart is to say that because Glenn is pointing out Obama’s extremism he somehow is stirring up fear and hatred. I would ask you to imagine the following scenario: a Republican is elected, and he espouses a lot of things that liberals don’t like. Liberals say that the poor will be thrown into the streets, women will have to have back-alley abortions, jack-booted Christian thugs will force people to read the Bible, etc. Well, we just went through eight years of that kind of rhetoric, and in fact it’s the kind of rhetoric we heard from the Left during Reagan’s presidency, and even during the first Bush presidency. I have no problem with people saying those kinds of things, even though I disagree with them, because that’s what democracy is about. Somebody who is too far out will not have listeners/viewers. In the end, people will be able to see through the lies/distortions and come to an understanding of the truth.

    The truth is that Glenn is reacting to the widespread feeling among middle Americans that Obama ran as a centrist but is in fact an extremist with an extremist agenda. If this were clearly false, Glenn Beck’s rating would tank. But instead many people are beginning to agree with that premise, and they are worried. Some of the worries (Obama’s going to take all our guns!) are clearly ridiculous — others (Obama has surrounded himself with some — I repeat some — really shady, extreme characters) are true.

    While you see fear-mongering, I see a lot of truth telling. And in the end the market will decide which is which. All true fear-mongerers (McCarthy, Father Coughlin, John Birchers, Nazis, Marxists) eventually go away and lose influence. That is one of the great things about our democracy.

  79. John C, (#93), I am going to be very clear on this: Van Jones has no place in our government. He is a Truther and an avowed Marxist who belonged to a Maoist organization expousing revolution and violence. I do not support my tax money going to pay for members of the following groups at high levels in government (members of Congress, Cabinet members, Czars, etc): Marxists, Maoists, Stalinists, Nazis, neo-Nazis, members of the KKK, David Duke white supremacists, Birthers, Truthers). This is a partial list. I’m sure if I spent some time I could think of some others. Van Jones fits into two of those categories. Just to be clear: I have no problem with Bernie Saunders-style democratic Socialists. I have a huge problem with people expousing the violent overthrow of the government, and I’m pretty sure you do too. The left does itself no favor by defending groups like these, which is why Pres. Obama and other prominent liberals quickly disassociated themselves from Van Jones’ views.

  80. “While you see fear-mongering, I see a lot of truth telling.”

    Truth telling is exactly what needs to be done on both sides of the isle, I agree. And I am glad that Beck was able to oust Van Jones and I hope he is successful in outing anyone else that doesn’t belong in power. It would be nice if he was non-partisan in his ouster of corrupt government employees though. I have no problem with his ability to shine light on extremism or corruption, it needs to be done. I do have issue with the way it is done, however.

    The truth is that Glenn is reacting to the widespread feeling among middle Americans that Obama ran as a centrist but is in fact an extremist with an extremist agenda. If this were clearly false, Glenn Beck’s rating would tank.

    If this were ten or twenty years ago, I would have completely agreed with you. But things have significantly changed since then to allow such extremism to be part and parcel of what many would consider normal activity in politics and in civil discourse.

    Obama is a centrist. I’ve been keeping a close eye on him to see if he will move to the far left and I personally haven’t seen any evidence that he’s an extremist. He’s made some rather stupid mistakes, fallen down on a few promises and done a few things that I strongly disagree with, but nothing I would consider extreme. It’s funny, but also true that you can tell who a person is by the people he ticks off. And he is really ticking off the radical Left side of the Democrats, if you haven’t noticed. I think that’s a good thing.

    All true fear-mongerers (McCarthy, Father Coughlin, John Birchers, Nazis, Marxists) eventually go away and lose influence. That is one of the great things about our democracy.

    I agree and that is my hope. Political yelling and diatribes will never cease anytime before the Millennium. But I’d at least like it to quite down to a dull roar for once.

  81. Obama is not and has never been a centrist. Maybe if you consider Ted Kennedy as the center of the political spectrum, rather than the longtime left liberal lodestar. The “blue dog” democrats and the peel-able Republicans (e.g. Olympia Snowe) are the closest thing we have to centrists in the current political spectrum.

    The only difference between Obama and the radical left is occasional evidence of slightly more pragmatism about what is politically possible with Obama. Their goals are indistinguishable.

    I think Glenn Beck is a bit of a fear monger. On the other hand, he sounds like a positive voice of reason (i.e. his criticisms tend to be based in actual facts) compared to Al Gore or Michael Moore, to say nothing of the 9/11 truthers and the Bush lied people died crowd.

  82. I think we should all be able to agree that whether or not you see Obama as a centrist depends on your own political perspective and where you think the center is. Personally, I see him as pretty far left and I think Mark D hits it on the head to say he’s probably closest to Ted Kennedy politically. For the purposes of ideology in the Senate, again, true centrists are the conservative Dems and the liberal Republicans (not many of those left). Even Obama did not see himself as a conservative Democrat while in the Senate, so any claim he is a centrist sounds pretty difficult to take seriously.

    However, it is true that he used centrist rhetoric during the campaign. He discussed tax cuts, he used Christian imagery, he talked about personal responsibility rather than blaming everybody for your problems. Has he governed as a centrist? In some ways he has — Iraq and Afghanistan being good examples. One of his problems is that the center is very difficult to find on his defining issue — health care reform. So I don’t see Obama as a centrist, but I can see why others do.

  83. I think we should all be able to agree that whether or not you see Obama as a centrist depends on your own political perspective and where you think the center is.

    I would be happy to agree with that. It all depends on perspective, which is the case with pretty much every personal opinion on anything.

    But if you consider Obama a centrist or not, I’m assuming you don’t think he’s a Nazi or a Marxist, do you? You may not like his policies because you see them as a bit too far left for your comfort, which is understandable. But is he a Socialist? He may be left of center according to your perspective, but is he truly extreme?

    If so, we may need to come to an agreement on a definition of the word “extreme.” Because I’m not seeing it.

  84. Nope, not a Nazi or a Marxist. He is a statist, however, but almost all of our politicians these days are statists, both Dem and Republican, so that makes him a centrist in many ways.

  85. Geoff, I don’t disagree with your list and I don’t think that Van Jones should be in office (I think I said that already). If the criterion is people who shouldn’t be in office, that’s fine. Let’s add 10-year-olds to the list. However, there is nothing in either of the wiki articles you posted that implies Van Jones supports violence. So if that was a parallel you intended, it isn’t there (at least, not yet).

  86. Marxists are conventionally distinguished from garden variety socialists by virtue of their advocacy of violent revolution. Obama is certainly not a Marxist by that standard.

    I have yet to see any reason to believe, however, that Obama is not a full blown democratic socialist, and scads of evidence to indicate that is the case. His fellow feeling for Ayers and Chavez for example. And by socialist in this case, I mean advocacy of a world where the state and secular political considerations in general dominate every activity, and all economic activities in particular, to pursue typically leftist ends.

    State ownership is not required – a sufficient degree of state interference, of the sort that already exists to an enormous degree in health care, for example, is sufficient to create a semi-socialist (if not full socialist) system. For example, the government pays for 50% of all health care (via Medicare and Medicaid already). Commercial banking is another example – deposits are explicitly guaranteed by the state, and for that and other reasons (like an effective license to print money) banks are under heavy regulatory authority, virtually to the degree they are an appendage of the federal government.

  87. As for the “statist” comment by Geoff B. in #100, I would actually agree that both sides are using social programs far too often and ineffectively as a band-aide to fix society’s symptoms instead of fixing the root cause of those symptoms. I believe there is a lot to agree with when it comes to the Libertarian view of things. But I tend to see far too many Libertarians who wish to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” to coin a very old phrase. Some, definitely not all, social programs are very beneficial to the country and should be retained, despite the fact that they supposedly “impinge on our personal rights.”

    My definition of a Socialist state was tangentially brought up in my post in #91, fifth paragraph. So my definition of a socialist, in simple terms, would be someone who wishes to live in or to create such a Socialist state. America is not now and is in no danger of becoming a Socialist state. The US has many social programs, some of which are good and some which are rather awful, but it is not a Socialist state. And it won’t be, even after Health Care is reformed.

  88. James, while I agree, one has to note that the reason for this is the public’s unwillingness to really enable much else. There are tons of theoretical models less “statist” for handling health care that probably would work. The problem is getting there from here.

    By and large the majority of problems the US faces are quite solvable in theory. It’s solving them with our current democracy that is the problem. But of course the alternative is tyranny which would almost certainly produce worse results, despite the views of folks who wish their views imposed on the rest.

    I just wish that all those railing or else falling prey to cynicism would recognize that the real problem is educating the masses and getting them to actually look in depth into the issues.

  89. To add, I also get dismayed at the too flip “statist” charge. As many noted, the US is quite statist in the sense that the state is involved in a lot. The only difference between Republicans and Democrats (and the subgroups in each) is how much state involvement there should be and of what sort. The claim that the government always does a poor job is, of course, silly. But some apply these labels as if they were absolutes whereas all they do is divert attention away from the real debate about what kind of government intervention there should be.

  90. John C, #102, there may or may not be videos/speeches out there that Van Jones has given personally advocating the violent overthrow of the govt. But that is beside the point: he belonged to and was a leader of a group that advocated “revolution” and Maoism. So, let’s say one of Obama’s czars proves to be a leader and active member of a white supremacist group that calls for violence against blacks. Do we really need proof that the guy himself called for violence against blacks before we say, “he was the member of a violent group, that’s good enough for me to say he shouldn’t be in a position of authority in our government?”

  91. Clark, I used the “statist” charge to deliberately stir things up a bit. What can I say: all this Marxism talk is starting to rub off on me. But I agree with your #106 — with a caveat. If we all started out govt intervention discussion from zero govt and then went up justifying each intervention (and we agreed that we could not offer a govt program without a plan to pay for it) we might have a very different view of what really is and is not necessary in terms of govt programs. That might help people understand the tea party opposition to health care reform — it is mostly people who have just had enough of yet another govt program. But I agree that we have to also be politically realistic. Personally, I would love Ron Paul’s ideal world, but I’m not sure we will get there anytime in our lifetimes.

  92. Geoff,
    Revolution doesn’t equate to violence. Otherwise, I’d be much more worried about Ron Paul. Mao is more troubling, but plenty of people have cited him as an influence without advocating violence. I’m just saying that it makes more sense to consider him an extreme party hack than a KKK person, whom we both agree wouldn’t fit in the Republican/Conservative movement.

  93. Geoff, the problem with Ron Paul’s ideal world is the same as with any Utopia. There’s no way it would work with the real human beings in this world.

    I’d also note that the increasing complexity of civilization almost necessitates bigger government. There’s a reason why pretty much all governments increase in complexity as civilization increases. When I bring this up to some Libertarians their effective solutions are de facto private governments doing things. So effectively the answer of far too many is simply government by a different name without democratic accountability or blind faith that individuals can handle the complexity of modern life.

  94. No (sane) libertarian suggests that government should give up its monopoly on the legitimate use of force or get out of the contract enforcement business. The accountability of any other de facto “government” rests on these two points.

    Without a legal monopoly, organizational forms can be adapted to what best serves the customers. In some markets – especially ones with natural monopolies, customer owned cooperatives are the most effective form. In markets with effective competition, more conventional private enterprises. In most such cases, accountability is increased. The most unaccountable organizations in modern society are inevitably branches of the government.

    Private businesses without government granted monopolies are ridiculously accountable by comparison. If the customers quit purchasing their products and services, they reform or go out of business overnight. Would that public schools in certain areas showed the tiniest fraction of that kind of accountability.

  95. I am a little late to the game, but I have five basic worries about Beck:

    1. His willingness to table his standards. He smoked on TV, he says extremely crass things in the name of humor. He is rude.
    2. His all Socialism is bad rhetoric. Public Roads, Libraries, Schools, Military, Medical, etc. are all socialist.
    3. His “Tea Party” rhetoric. The Boston Tea Party began our violent revolution from our sovereign nation. I worry this rhetoric is not just rhetoric for some.
    4. His playing fast and lose with the facts. I deplore sound-byte gotcha media tactics, and I’m not a big fan of the teased out alternate John Birch conspiracy history.
    5. Finally, I hate the ad hominem attacks. Jimmy Carter is not the biggest racist ever. Barack Obama is not a racist biggot and is not a Nazi.

    This is not a “I hate Glenn Beck” list. These are my legitimate worries about him as a fellow Saint and as a fellow Independent.

  96. Matt W, sorry, but this is a “I hate Glenn Beck” list and violates the provisions of this post. On that issue, I am judge and jury and there is no appeal process. However, you have made a lot of good comments in the past, and I’m willing to let this slide just because I’m in a good mood. Just so you know….

  97. @Matt W.

    1. His willingness to table his standards. He smoked on TV, he says extremely crass things in the name of humor. He is rude.

    He got in big trouble for the smoking bit from his wife, and he said off-air the next Monday that he had gone to see the bishop about it. He himself said the stunt was stupid.

    2. His all Socialism is bad rhetoric. Public Roads, Libraries, Schools, Military, Medical, etc. are all socialist.

    That’s for another post.

    3. His “Tea Party” rhetoric. The Boston Tea Party began our violent revolution from our sovereign nation. I worry this rhetoric is not just rhetoric for some.

    Liberal paranoia of Middle America.

    4. His playing fast and lose with the facts. I deplore sound-byte gotcha media tactics, and I’m not a big fan of the teased out alternate John Birch conspiracy history.

    I have to again call bull freakin’ crap on this. Which facts has he played fast and loose with? Humor me, please. I’m itchin’ for an offline debate.

    5. Finally, I hate the ad hominem attacks. Jimmy Carter is not the biggest racist ever. Barack Obama is not a racist biggot and is not a Nazi.

    Beck never called Carter a racist, let alone the “biggest racist ever.” He did call Obama a racist. Go ahead, prove him wrong on that. And he compared our times with early German fascism, but he never called Obama a nazi.

    You are ill informed. Come back and comment when you’ve done a little homework.

    Sorry, Geoff. How’s about letting that one slide too;)

  98. D Sirmize, I agree with your points, but no reason for the “ill informed” sentences. Your point is more powerful if you avoid ad hominems.

  99. Geoff- Just to be clear, I do not hate Glenn Beck. I will discontinue but want to stand up for my “ill informed” status, if I may.

    I was hoping my comment would be seen as a response of “probably not” to “can and should Mormon intellectuals find anything redeeming in his hysterical, populist style?”


    re: “I have to again call bull freakin’ crap on this. Which facts has he played fast and loose with?”

    Here are a very few (6) examples from non-partisan sites.

    I’m actually socially moderate (against abortion, for birth control, for capital punishment, for welfare reform, for school/education reform, against big government) and fiscally conservative for the record, and am from Indiana and now live in Texas. Not sure what you mean by liberal paranoia of Middle America.

  100. Actually, as I say way, way up there, I hear Glenn use made up “facts” all the time. He’s trying his best, but he just does not have a wide base of experience and knowledge in the fields he discusses. That is why he is at his best Fighting the Power rather than discussing complex issues, when he often gets stuff wrong. Having said that, I might as well take a stab at your other points.

    1)Not familiar with the smoking bit, but D’s pov sounds right. Yes, Beck is rude and crass. Often.
    2)Matt, you are really missing the boat on this one. Please see the guest post by Doug D. Paying for roads and schools is not socialism. A Libertarian society would have the govt paying for roads and schools and a military. Paying for ACORN, the stimulus bill, the 2010 budget, govt run health care, cap and tax — those are not socialism but we are getting closer every day, and it is very, very clear to me that Obama’s goal is an extreme left version of how much the government should control the economy. I mean, c’mon, what is the govt doing owning GM and Chrysler and worrying how much bankers are paid? Beck is right to warn us about it.
    3)If you oppose the Obama agenda, what better way than to organize public protests? Matt is wrong on this one.
    4)I agree with Matt W on this one.
    5)I have no problem with Beck’s take on Carter. He did not call Carter the biggest racist ever, he pointed out that it is not racist to oppose Obama, which is completely legitimate. Obama is in a tough position on racism issues. My take is that he does not overtly try to stoke racial issues, but he sometimes doesn’t mind if they work to his benefit.

  101. I’ve always been a big fan of Glenn Beck, watching is show quite frequently… even DVR(ing) it. Lately I have gotten annoyed with him. It feels like a dramatic broken record.

    I agree (nearly) completely with the Author. In my opinion, Beck makes good points, he engages people and has instigated processes which have brought good results. However, I think he can often be overly-dramatic, speak without thinking and let his emotions override logical thinking and explanation. This lack of emotional control, I believe, is what hurts his credibility.

    I can see how journalists would find him off-putting, because he is someone with an entertainment background in a journalistic role, although it is an opinion show, many people take what he says as fact.

    However, it is the responsibility of the American people, regardless of their political leaning, to watch all news media with a healthy amount of skepticism and an open-mind. Considering myself fairly conservative I watch and listen to a lot of conservative programs but I do balance it out with more liberal outlets as well and don’t take everything at face-value.

    To be so emotional that one uses the term “hate” regarding him is just eliciting the same behavior they (I’m assuming) are annoyed by.

  102. @Geoff B.
    Very true. This is because mainstream media is grossly biased. I think it was funny when Jon Stewart made commentary about “where were you?” to them.

  103. John C, I put this comment down for the record as a reply to your #111. It does not matter if it all STORM or RAW did was organize protests. If you read their internal documents, they were very paranoid about being monitored by the FBI and other govt groups. Of course all they could get away with was organizing protests. It is worth pointing out that Van Jones himself was arrested TWICE for being violent at protests. Again, all most white supremicist groups do right now is organize protests. During Hitler’s early years, all he did was organize protests and speak in beer halls. The issue, in terms of judging their fitness for higher office, is what is their INTENT? Van Jones’ intent was the violent overthrow of the government, as is a white supremicist’s intent (based on the founding documents of STORM). Ron Paul’s intent is, using the democratic process, to have a peaceful change in government. There is a big difference between one type of revolution and the other.

  104. You say that Glenn Beck “is trying to do his best to represent the Church in a positive way.” Are you serious? Have you seen the way he makes fun of people? My biggest complaint about Glenn Beck is probably the terrible way that he represents my religion.

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