Glenn Beck and William Kristol Brawl over John Birchers and Middle East

National Politics

New Orleans kristolWhen William Kristol of the intellectual right, Weekly Standard, is coming to your defense against Glenn Beck of Fox and other platforms, it would be a mistake to believe that everything is “right with the world,” since it is more likely the equivalent of a no-punches-thrown schoolyard shouting match.  But, sure enough in a Ripley’s “believe it or not” moment, that’s what we have in front of us.

David Carr, the New York Times media wizard, opined the other day about the fact that Glenn Beck’s time at the top of the ratings was over and that he had now jumped the shark and was headed down.  He noted the fact that Kristol had called Beck out for his ranting about the Islamic hot spots sweeping the world and that this was “marginalizing” Beck.  What a concept?  How could he be more marginal?

The real slap down delivered by Kristol was much more of a gut punch:

“When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.”

To remind amnesiacs still walking among us, this was a response to Beck’s chagrin about all things Egypt and Tunisia and how unsettled he was that street protests for democracy, change, jobs, and housing were bringing down dictators.  Beck had warned that it would be “Katie bar the door” (my words) if you link all of the socialists (and he listed Bill Ayers of course, a Code Pinker, and “Wade Rathke, that ACORN guy) as all hooked up in the street protests and hanging with the Muslim Brotherhood or words to that affect.

For Kristol to stand in defense then is truly remarkable.  For him to nail Beck for fabricating “connections between the caliphate-promoters and the American left” is extraordinary and for him to label him as reminiscent of “Robert Welch and the John Birch Society” is a signpost on the right, just as I and other progressives have increasingly pointed out these signs of neo-McCarthyism over the last years.  When the thieves fall out, there’s real hope for the innocent living in the neighborhood, and that’s where our prayers have to lie now.

But, it’s nothing to count on.  Some may be bored by Beck (how could you not?) but with 2 million TV viewers and countless other Beck-book-buyers and radio zealots, he has a hardcore fan base which guarantees him a platform for many years to come, Fox or no Fox.  He’s not going away until he’s driven even deeper underground.  That’s also the lesson learned from the John Birch Society which still has a heartbeat out there in America.