For a self-described rodeo clown who frequently admits he isn't that bright, Glenn Beck must be doing something right. A de facto leader of the populist backlash against President Obama, he made the cover of Time magazine, with his tongue sticking out no less. His books are immediate best-sellers. His radio and TV shows have stratospheric ratings. His one-man comedy performances draw packed audiences, and the proceeds from his numerous ventures have him making north of $20 million a year.
But perhaps his most impressive feat is his ability to unite a broad coalition of liberals, media scolds and conservatives under the single banner of Beck-hatred.
Now, before I proceed, I should disclose the fact that I like Beck personally and that his support for my book "Liberal Fascism" was a huge boon, helping to push it to No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list. As a Fox News contributor, I have appeared regularly on his show. Whether that gives me more, or less, credibility when I say I cannot defend some of the things he says is for others to decide.
Still, much of the anti-Beck backlash (He's an extremist! He's paranoid! He's hate-filled!) from the left is hard to take seriously. First, this is a crowd that lets Michael Moore and Janeane Garofalo speak for them, and that celebrated the election of unfunny man Al Franken to the Senate. If you think it's racist to oppose Obama's health care reform efforts, it goes without saying that you'll think Beck is an extremist. This is what liberals always say about popular right-wingers, including Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley. For over 20 years liberals, including Presidents Clinton and Obama, have insisted that Rush Limbaugh is everything from an unpatriotic hatemonger to an enabler of domestic terrorism. It makes sense that they'd give Beck the same business.
THE DARLING OF THE LEFT