The Venerable Smokestack alerted me to this breaking news about Glenn Beck’s new line of 1791 Supply & Co blue jeans. Don’t try to understand that name or you’ll tear your hippocampus. The 1791 part refers to the year the Bill of Rights was ratified. It definitely does not refer to the year Louis XVI and his family were captured at Varennes-en-Argonne while trying to flee the French Revolution. Beck hates revolutions that do not have “American” or possibly “faith” in front of them. It’s the whole reason he invented blue jeans in the first place.
We’ve expended more than a few words around here trying to fit Glenn Beck into history—as an heir to Father Coughlin, for example, or more broadly as a populist in the mold of that Great Commoner, William Jennings Bryan. We’ve also tried to fit Beck into history the way you fit the cat into a carrier before taking him to the vet, trying to map his peculiar understanding of the American narrative or at least figure out where it come from. Those two lines of inquiry may just converge on the John Birch Society, as this interesting overview in the New Yorker suggests. Props to Mose for the link. In June, after Beck made a presentation on Communism in America, an essay on the John Birch Society website praised it as “the ultimate in complete agreement between the Beck and JBS presentations of American history.”
It’s possible you’ve heard about this, but Glenn Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, drawing anywhere from 87,000 to 1,000,000 middle-class, white conservatives to reclaim the civil rights movement. That’s not fair; it was really to honor American troops and raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Except it was actually more of a religious revival. Exactly what Glenn Beck did on Saturday and how many people came to watch him and what the fudge the whole thing might mean is frankly unclear. Fortunately, we had a whole list of questions worked out beforehand.
It’s been a bonanza week for news commentators, with earthquakes, tell-all books, people saying “negro” two years ago—everything that makes a vibrant political discourse thrive. The big news, though, was that a certain someone jumped from national electoral politics to the big show: cable news commentating. When Bill O’Reilly welcomed Sarah Palin to Fox News, he told her that she had acquired a powerful tool, a bigger megaphone that she could at last use to shout back at her critics. The implication was that being a Fox commentator was a position of greater power than being governor of Alaska. And was he wrong? Sarah Palin is more popular now than she was when she had the full might of the Republican Party behind her. Rush Limbaugh has outlasted the Contract With America, three Presidents and presumably dozens of minor coronaries. And Glenn Beck can’t think. Powerful men all, and it’s hard to argue that they wield less influence over the American people than do Pelosi, Boehner and Reid. Perhaps that is as it should be. I, for one, welcome our new and increasingly bloated masters, and urge them to form a new government of Real Americans and questionable analogies to Hitler just as soon as they can. Won’t you join me in considering the beautiful world they’re creating? No? Okay, back to cat videos, then. I’ll see the rest of you after the jump.
By now you have probably heard that Sarah Palin has joined Fox News as a contributor, and will be providing “her political commentary and analysis across all Fox News platforms,” which by 2012 will presumably include blimps and children’s mouths. This is the kind of news event that makes so much sense, once it has happened, that you feel like you were time traveling and have suddenly caught up with the actual present. Why hasn’t Sarah Palin been working for Fox News since she graduated from college? It’s like watching Joseph Goebbels fuck The Riddler: difficult to see coming, but once it starts happening you know that only circumstances kept them apart for so long. “I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News,” Palin said in a press release. “It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.” And so it begins.