Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 3:15 pm

A darn good question from Stacy McCain that deserves an answer from at least one of us who never tires of trying to promote rationalism (if not pragmatism) among conservatives, and trashes Beck and many other talk show hosts who represent the dark underbelly of conservative paranoia.

I think there is something to the notion that, while on specific issues, this is something of a conservative country, the culture and history of America is that of a liberal (classic) democracy. We have created a society with a huge impetus to improve ourselves both as a country and individually. De Tocqueville recognized this and marveled at it.

The overriding key that drives American history has been the desire for human liberty. The second has been “change.” The United States stands still for no one, no group, no ideology. No country has experimented more with government . No nation has absorbed and assimilated more immigrants, enthusiastically adopting what pleases us from the newcomers while sloughing off the rest. No country has reinvented itself so many times.

For about 150 years, there was no “conservative movement” in America. Instead, there were reactionaries who stood athwart social progress toward ending slavery, granting women’s rights, ending child labor, allowing workers to organize, and the like. Identified more as “traditionalists” or “capitalists,” or Buckley’s “individualists,” it must be said that for a variety of reasons, our ideological ancestors did not cover themselves in glory. But they still served a vital purpose; they usually kept the pace of change from overwhelming the traditions and institutions that make America “America,” allowing change to take place gradually and within the context of a treasured past.

I bring this up because by any yardstick you want to use, America is in the process of changing. Demographically, we are getting younger, browner, more educated, and most importantly, less wedded to traditional institutions. Our economy is changing - has been changing - for 30 years, from an industrial, to a service economy, to now a tech economy with global competition. It is my belief, and the belief of a few others, that once again, conservatism must rise to the occasion by “standing athwart history yelling stop.” Be it in government, out of government, or as the government, we have a sacred trust to fulfill to guide this change down traditional paths without losing the essence of who and what we are.

Obama and the liberals don’t like who and what we are and wish to go too far in “remaking” America. On this we all agree. But is Glenn Beck “standing athwart” history or is he simply screaming nonsense into the void, pandering to the basest instincts of conservatives, rejecting rationality in favor of paranoid conspiracy mongering that doesn’t advance the cause one iota but garners him plenty of ratings and money?

To say that “the left does it too” is perhaps the most irrational statement of all. Aping the absolute worst in your political opponent is insane. Did their radical, screaming base help or hinder them in 2008? Note that, like some crazy uncle, Democrats marginalized their crazies just long enough for the voters to think they were a moderate party. GOP corruption didn’t help nor did the utter futility of the McCain campaign. The tactics that some on the right want to emulate or think isn’t harmful to the cause ignores the lessons of 2008.

Perceptions matter. A hard truth that everytime I say it I am accused of cowering in fear of the left. It’s not fear, but the simple political reality that has been true in American politics since the beginning; giving your opponent the golden opportunity to define conservatives for the voters in such a way that makes us look like mindless, ranting, fearful paranoids who believe in cockamamie conspiracy theories and celebrate and lionize people like Glenn Beck will not win us any elections. Period. The 30% of you who don’t believe this or reject it because you think it doesn’t matter are kidding yourselves. And you’re dragging conservatism down with your blindness.

Is Glenn Beck “the enemy?” He is the enemy of anyone who believes in reason, in logic, and in rational thought. In that sense, he can take down a hundred Van Jones and ACORNS and still be a blot on the political landscape. It doesn’t matter if he is a conservative or not. Conservatives have adopted this scheming, manipulative fakir and it will redound to our sorrow in the end.


  1. Rick,

    You do understand that by singling Glenn Beck out for a personal bash session you are only helping to grow his audience. He doesn’t care what you, or any other pundit, thinks of him or his show. But by mentioning his name and stating that you watch him to find out what he is really up to, is just throwing gas on the fire.

    You are truly missing the point when you attempt to analysis his motives, behavior, or methods. They are, quite simply, Glenn Beck. Just like there is only one Rush Limbaugh. He plays to his audience, much like any entertainer. He doesn’t claim to be all things, nor does he claim to be right. One of the things I noticed (did you) is that he often asks for someone to come forth a disprove one of his theories.

    It’s obvious you disapprove of his tactics (and those of most other Conservative talk-show hosts). But in the overall scheme of things, you are no different, in that you are just as strident and unbending in your rules of engagement as they are or any Liberal for that matter.

    The willingness to listen and try to understand ALL sides makes for a real discussion. Sometimes you are as closed minded and narrow as anyone you accuse of the same. This makes it hard to take you seriously.

    By the way, I personnaly think Glenn Beck is a nutcase, but really fun to watch.

    So I’m supposed to dialogue with people who think Glenn Beck is a reasonable man? Right. Talking to rocks is not my thing.

    And it is laughable to think that because nobody comes forth to debunk his idiotic conspiracy theories that they are true or even legitimate. Why expend the energy to “disprove” that Wilson deliberately put the fasces on the back of our dime to show we support fascism? That is nutty on its face.


    Comment by JustIce — 9/22/2009 @ 3:56 pm

  2. NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.

    National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.

    Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple’s high-profile expose.

    Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.

    ACORN hysteria has nothing to with race and ACORN’s been defunded.

    Move along.

    Nothing to see here.

    Comment by Richard bottoms — 9/22/2009 @ 6:33 pm

  3. “the culture and history of America is that of a liberal (classic) democracy”

    “For about 150 years, there was no “conservative movement” in America”

    Exactly. The American Experiment is NOT conservative. The very idea of a society being an experiment is anathema to true conservatism. The ideas the Founders used to establish this country were a synthesis of liberalism and republicanism. Conservatism was created decades later and was designed to defend the European pre-modern social order against the very kind of modern ideas that animated the American Founders. The contemporary American conservative movement was invented in the 1950s by a bunch of fringe intellectuals who had a thing for European conservatism and who opposed the industrial age administrative state.

    “It is my belief, and the belief of a few others, that once again, conservatism must rise to the occasion by “standing athwart history yelling stop.” ”

    “Standing athwart history shouting stop” is the exact opposite of what the American Experiment is all about. The motto the Founders chose was “Novus Ordo Seclorum” : New Order of the Ages. They believed they rode at the front of a movement driving into the future and creating a new kind of society that was leaving the old European pre-modern order behind. And they were right. The effort over the past few decades to graft a European conservatism onto the American Experiment is a huge mistake that is distorting our view of what America really is. The turmoil of the 1960s propelled two movements forward: the New Left and Conservatism, both of them are alien to the American Experiment. The only way we can move forward into the 21st century is to move beyond both of them, reconnect with the spirit of the American Experiment and innovate an information age vision of America that is based upon the liberalism and republicanism that is at the heart of everything that America is about. That is the only way forward. Conservatism is a diversion.

    Comment by pb — 9/22/2009 @ 6:56 pm

  4. ACORN hysteria has nothing to with race and ACORN’s been defunded.

    That is what Republicans like to tell each other. In minority communities I’m willing to bet the perception is much different.

    Comment by Pug — 9/22/2009 @ 6:59 pm

  5. [...] — Rick Moran [...]

    Pingback by Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Quote Of The Day — 9/22/2009 @ 7:52 pm

  6. Asked and Answered…

    Robert Stacy McCain asks: Can’t all conservatives at least agree that Glenn Beck is not the enemy?
    Rick Moran of the Rightwing Nuthouse anwsers:
    Is Glenn Beck “the enemy?” He is the enemy of anyone who believes in reason, in logic, and in ra…

    Trackback by PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts — 9/22/2009 @ 8:12 pm

  7. The day someone on the Left gets crazy enough to think Keith Olbermann matters to their side, I’ll get worried about what Glen Beck means to ours. In the meantime, I will watch paint peel. It’s about as relevant to conservatism.

    Comment by obamathered — 9/22/2009 @ 9:22 pm

  8. There are good conservative blogs, newspapers etc out there. So it isn’t that Glen Beck is ‘needed’. However, you could ask was the Jerry Springer show ever needed; people loved watching it. Perhaps you can even go back to Roman times with ‘bread and games’. Somehow the appealing to lower instincts has always and will always have a following. I’m just not sure it’s worth loosing that much sleep over it. We will have our day again so the time in the wilderness could be a time worth having if we can adjust conservatism to a rapidly changing world.

    Comment by funny man — 9/22/2009 @ 9:47 pm

  9. Who can afford “enemies”?

    I suspect the number of pragmatic, rational conservatives speaking out at townhall meetings and protesting at tea parties was relatively small. It is the ordinary, “unwashed masses” — the very type of unpolished folks who listen to Rush and Beck — who are slowing, if not stopping, the liberal juggernaut in Congress.

    I consider myself a newcomer into the pragmatic, rationalist camp. The question isn’t whether we can succeed without the support of the Rushites, Palinites, Beckites, etc. because we clearly can’t. (If the fight had been left solely up to us, Reid and Pelosi would have danced on our political graves months ago.) The question is how do we convince them that they need us as well.

    We can’t expect everyone to have an above-average education or IQ or to think exactly like us. Conservatives need to get over their hangups of working side-by-side with Evangelicals, Mormons, Atheists, Gays, etc. to preserve basic freedoms and economic opportunity. The original colonists had similar attitudes about differences in their brethren in other colonies, but they got over it.

    Any conservative rebound is going to have to somehow unite purist-populists and pragmatic-rationalists.

    Comment by Doug King — 9/22/2009 @ 10:36 pm

  10. There’s just something about Glenn Beck that screams “phony”; in a way that none of his ideological counterparts (except Ann Coulter) do. Perhaps its because he’s relatively new on the far-right scene; as recently as early 2008 he was voicing commentaries that were slightly to the left of Joe Scarborough. Or maybe its the crying and awkward pauses at the climaxes of his show. Whatever it is, he’s probably not so much an “enemy” to conservatives, as he is a “friend” to liberals who are secretly delighted to have such a disgusting boogie-man that they can vilify and feel better about themselves.
    On the surface, this man has the ability to carry himself better than Rush as a Conservative, yet he can be more deranged than Orley Tatiz sometimes! (Like Ms. Coulter, his recent bizarre endorsement of Obama over McCain was eerily reminiscent of her strange anti-McCain rant last year.) All of which leads me to believe that what he does is simply just an act to make money.

    Comment by Surabaya Stew — 9/22/2009 @ 11:11 pm

  11. [...] Rick Moran’s post on Beck, with some interesting food for thought about conservatism, republicanism and classical liberalism as well [...]

    Pingback by PoliGazette » Beck on ‘Obama’s a Racist’ — 9/23/2009 @ 7:02 am

  12. Asking if Glenn Beck is the enemy is the wrong question. Was the John Birch Society ever the enemy? I don’t think so. That doesn’t mean that William F Buckley was wrong to read them out of the conservative movement. Even today, the JBS is around, largely impotent but a going concern.

    The JBS was read out of the conservatives by attacks from the right, that they were insufficiently conservative. If Glenn Beck is to be read out of the movement, there’s one striking advantage here. He doesn’t claim to be a conservative. There, job done. What’s being done is a lie, a falsehood, committed by the mainstream left to conflate a self-described libertarian with conservatism.

    There is an alliance, one of convenience for both sides, between conservatives and libertarians. This is well known inside the GOP and the right. The left takes delight in wedging this alliance and trying to force libertarians to defend conservative positions and conservatives to defend libertarian ones.

    Somehow reaching across the party lines is viewed as somewhat noble bipartisanship that’s for the good of the country but reaching across the libertarian/conservative divide is viewed less admirably. This is the politics of division.

    I don’t think that Glenn Beck has everything right. From what I can tell he’s got significant policy differences with me. He also doesn’t seem to do his research at the very least. And I’m a libertarian. In a world where Obama isn’t pilloried to renounce the modern day wobblies (ANSWER) when he finds himself on the same side, why should the right accede to a double standard?

    Comment by TMLutas — 9/23/2009 @ 7:28 am

  13. Doug King is exactly right. Where it not for Newt aligning with Rush L, the right never have would have won in 94. The libertarian and the conservatives need to join with the mormons, the christians, the gun owners and the even the John Birch Society and recognize that there are basic principals the founding fathers placed in the constitution that support experimentation and conservatism. We should not change the constitution on a whim to try something new, but we can change the laws around financial reporting as an experiment. There are certain principals that allow us all to live together and enjoy the culture of our affinity groups. There are experiments that attempt to curtail these principals in an attempt to demand ’social justice’ by creating a perception of fairness to all. Fairness to all is based on each by his own means. It does not include the government taking from one to redistribute to another. This is a principal that you will find in ALL THE GROUPS you are marginalizing!!! Beck believes this, the mormons believe this, the John Birch Society believes this, Rush Limbaugh believes this, Michael Savage believes this, but YOU, Mr. Moran, appear to not believe this. Do you??

    Comment by Dan Hunt — 9/23/2009 @ 8:19 am

  14. As someone who claims reason and rationality as the basis for opinion, what do you have other than the squeaking of an ever-impotent left-wing noise machine and your own raw emotions to back up the following:

    “The 30% of you who don’t believe this or reject it because you think it doesn’t matter are kidding yourselves. And you’re dragging conservatism down with your blindness.”

    First, you present nothing to support that only thirty percent “don’t believe this” or “reject it because you think it doesn’t matter…” My guess–the same way you devined your percentage–is the percentage is closer to 100 and absolutely correct in its opinion. Now if you want to Sullivanize yourself, it is your blog and have at it. But if you want to be taken seriously rather than read by dwindling freak show fans, you might want to take stock of such breathless, unsupported and rather off-the-wall assertions.

    I won’t even ask how you have concluded Beck hurts conservatism since he isn’t one or even a Republican, has become a Brooks-like useful idiot and embraced Obama over McCain, and so forth. You are heavy on rhetoric and regurgitation of legacy media tripe but just as light on substance to back up your claims.

    And even if you were right, and you aren’t and present nothing to show you are, to what effect? Will you launch a one-man campaign to end Beck’s career? Would that be worth a good goddamned? Hell, Soros-funded Media Matter did and Beck came out ahead. Would an obscure, increasingly erratic blog slay a pop culture giant? And why would it?

    I also would nit about your description of the nation as “getting younger” since it is just the opposite per the census and hence the SS and Medicare crises, but demographics can be skewed like any statistical-based science. And poll after poll shows that the nation has become more conservative and wants less government contrary to what you wrote above. Maybe MSNBC or a hot Ouija Board reached another conclusion but objective numbers aren’t your friend here.

    I’m not being a son of a bitch. But, really, Rick.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 9/23/2009 @ 9:08 am

  15. Beck is all yours. You may not like that but, trust me, all my Liberal friends see Beck as a Conservative clown.

    That said there sure are a lot of idiots on the right and left these days. Did you see the new Public Policy Poll?
    Only 37% of Republicans believe Obama was born in America. WTF?
    Of course the Democratic voters don’t come off too well either. 25% of Democrats, think that George W. Bush let 9/11 happen to justify war.
    And just for fun 10% of voters say they think Obama is the Anti-Christ with 11% unsure and 8% say the same of Bush with an equal 11% unsure.

    What is happening to this country?

    Comment by ML — 9/23/2009 @ 11:47 am

  16. Glenn Beck just admitted he thinks McCain would have been worse than Obama. Beware the creeping paleo-conservative menace…

    The Stacy McCain’s (and Pam Gellar’s and Robert Spencer’s and Glenn Beck’s) of the world believe this is their time. They are the sorry equivalent of the loony wingnut left, only scarier because they are attempting to co-opt (and corrupt) the ideas that lead to free markets, free trade, self-determination, and a strong national defense protecting a live and let live society…

    Comment by mph — 9/23/2009 @ 1:02 pm

  17. Too bad you guys don’t watch and LISTEN to what Glenn is saying.

    Of course, you’re too wrapped up in your mutual mental masturbation of each other to give a rip about what’s happening to the country.

    Glenn is asking the questions that EVERYONE should be asking.

    It’s a shame that an “entertainer” is more cutting edge than the fringe media (CBS, NBC, ABC, msNBC, CNN, etc).

    So, go ahead and attack the messenger because you don’t have the first clue about what he’s actually talking about.

    Comment by DJ — 9/24/2009 @ 12:15 am

  18. Wooah there DJ. Conservative USA is so far to the right its practically round the corner and out of sight.
    Obama is moving things some way to the middle, that’s all.
    You guys had, what, 8 years since Clinton and what happened? Unmitigated disaster. Now lets see what a centre-ist can do.

    Comment by Radiohadi — 9/24/2009 @ 2:07 am

  19. DJ, you’ve been pulled into the Beck-ian vortex of nutty conspiratorial paranoia. Take slow, deep breaths, swim parallel to the beach for awhile and then return to shore.

    Comment by Jeff — 9/24/2009 @ 1:01 pm

  20. While it may be true that those who do not like Glenn Beck watch the show, thus increasing his ratings, it must be said that advertisers understand it’s more about quality, not quantity. This is evident in the 60+ sponsors who have pulled their ads.

    Comment by The Glenn Beck Program — 9/24/2009 @ 1:20 pm

  21. Charles Johnson at LGF goes out of his way to trash Beck and lately, Limbaugh amongst others on the right. Johnson’s posts remind me of Dr. Strangeleove’s General Jack D. Ripper and his obsession with O.P.E. Our Purity of Essence.

    Political arguments are often messy. It is rare that absolute eloquence of stance, words and deed sway many voters. They elevate the conversation, but don’t always give rise to TV ratings, or change many minds. Just look at any legislation; it hardly ever resembles a kinship with liberty. even when it is often titled that way. In practice, most legislation affects liberty negatively.

    America likes its info fast. Glenn Beck provides little if any of it. But folks watch him because he is a slightly more logical reactionary than the MSNBC types that flail away out there. The MSM had all types of Beck’s before Glenn Beck came along. Once in a while, they’d snag a corrupt or scheming official. Since the press resembles a state-run advocacy organization these days, Beck’s novelty is all the more glaring.

    The arguments regarding liberty are necessary, their result is rarley ever as pure as the idea. But the very freedoms we worry about need to be protected, even if it results in a few more Glenn Becks, or God Forbid; Rachel Maddows. A cursory glance at the agenda over at the FCC these is enough to scare anybody into wishing there were more Glenn Beck’s out there exposing the tyranny going on in the cabinet level posts of this country.

    Comment by P. Aaron — 9/24/2009 @ 2:05 pm

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