Glenn Beck devoted much of his May 26 show to renewing his attacks against Obama administration official Cass Sunstein. Beck claimed that Sunstein is “the man who controls everything”, “a geek” who has “more power than the Fed” and with the passage of financial reform would “control your every move.”
Beck fearmongers: Sunstein has “more power than the Fed,” “controls everything”
Beck called Sunstein “the man who controls everything.” Beck said that as White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) administrator, Sunstein “is the man that controls everything through nudges. He'll just nudge you. He'll never tell you what to do, he nudges.” Beck then compared him to the director character in the movie The Truman Show, who gave the protagonist Truman the illusion of choice while controlling the world around him. Beck said Sunstein advocates a similar policy in his book Nudge, and that Sunstein has “wanted the job in the control room his whole life.”
Beck: Sunstein is a “geek.” Recounting a story in which Sunstein indicated to his date that he'd like to work at OIRA, Beck said that made Sunstein a “geek.” From the May 16 New York Times Magazine article Beck cited:
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sunstein went to Iowa on Obama's behalf with his friend Austan Goolsbee, now a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Goolsbee's friend from college Samantha Power. Sunstein got in such an involved conversation with a voter that he left Goolsbee and Power outside, shivering in the snow. The three joked that, between their three sprawling areas of expertise, they had almost any potential question about Obama covered. They failed at the first door, when a voter wanted to know the location of the nearest caucus.
Sunstein and Power, who is 39, soon went on a date, and she asked him if he ever fantasized about doing anything else. “I expected him to say he dreamed of playing for the Red Sox,” she told me. “His eyes got real big and he said: 'Ooh! OIRA!' ”
Beck claims Sunstein's job gives him “more power than the Fed.” Beck said that a “geek” would want to head OIRA because “only geeks know what this job really is,” and that Sunstein wanted his job at OIRA because "[a]ny geek who knows history knows why you say 'ooh.' It's one of the most powerful jobs in the world. You're looking at more power than the Fed."
Beck: “Government control” of 60 percent of economy will allow Sunstein to “control your every move.” Beck claimed that if the financial reform bill passes Congress, it will put 60 percent of the economy under “government control,” and that as a result Sunstein “will control your every move.” Beck has previously noted that he believes that the financial reform bill is “the beginning of financial global regulation” which will eventually lead to “global government.”
Beck: Sunstein “taking a page” from “playbook” of “evil” “S.O.B.” Woodrow Wilson. Beck argued that Sunstein was “taking a page” from Woodrow Wilson's playbook (who he called “evil” and an “S.O.B.”) by using tactics to “discredit,” “eliminate,” and “infiltrate” outside, dissenting voices. In Beck's incomplete version of the historical record, President Wilson engineered America's entry into World War I.
Beck implored viewers “in the Capitol” to listen to him about Sunstein, repeats “most dangerous man” attack. Beck reiterated his warning that Sunstein is “the most dangerous man in America.” Then he asked viewers that if they were “watching in the Capitol” that they should “please, please” listen to his program because “I don't think you have done your homework. I have.” Beck added that Sunstein represents “history you do not want to repeat.”
Beck linked Sunstein, Media Matters to WWI, WWII government propaganda. Beck said that President Obama appointing Sunstein to OIRA was reminiscent of Woodrow Wilson's Committee on Public Information and Franklin Roosevelt's Office of War Information --both wartime government-run propaganda offices -- but that instead Obama had Sunstein and "Media Matters and Center for American Progress and MSNBC and The Huffington Post and -- where else? The New York Times. I could go on."
Beck falsely claimed Sunstein has been “pushing for the Second Bill of Rights.” On January 11, Beck claimed that Sunstein “tried to resurrect” Roosevelt's “Second Bill of Rights,” and that he was “pushing” for it. In fact, Sunstein explained that FDR didn't want to change the text of the Constitution, and that Sunstein was “nervous” about such changes.
From the September 8, 2004, edition of the public TV program The Open Mind:
SUNSTEIN: If, if we are excited about judicial protection of individual rights, then we might want the Second Bill of Rights in our Constitution. I, myself, am nervous about that, because I'm nervous about the judges. I'd much prefer that we recover this aspect of our history, that we understand that this is what we've been about, rather than the post-Reagan blunder of thinking America is opposed to government intervention. Which is a ridiculous and false characterization of our history.
Beck called Sunstein “the most evil man, the most dangerous man in America.” On March 18, Beck referred to Sunstein as “the most evil man, the most dangerous man in America” while discussing Sunstein's book on FDR and the false claim that Sunstein favored a second bill of rights. Beck previously described Sunstein's beliefs as “awfully Nazi.”
Beck claimed Sunstein's office at OIRA was “a new role” and compared it to the “Reichstag.” On May 17 Beck said, “He holds the office -- the White House office of information. Jawohl. Is that a new role, do we know?” Beck continued, “The office of information -- that doesn't sound too Reichstag, here, does it?” In fact, OIRA was formed in 1980 under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980.
OIRA is not a propaganda office
OIRA reviews federal regulations, aims to reduce paperwork. From the OIRA's website:
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is located within the Office of Management and Budget and was created by Congress with the enactment of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (PRA). OIRA carries out several important functions, including reducing paperwork burdens, reviewing Federal regulations, and overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.
Please see www.reginfo.gov, which is a public website disclosing information about OIRA's review of draft regulations under Executive Order 12866. This dashboard graphically presents information about rules under OIRA review through an easy-to-use interactive display and allows the public to sort rules by agency, length of review, state of rulemaking, and economic significance.
Conservatives have repeatedly praised Sunstein
Instapundit's Reynolds: Sunstein is “an honest, decent and very smart guy who wants to help the country.” In a May 1, 2009, post, conservative blogger and University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds wrote of Sunstein's nomination to serve as the head of OIRA:
I've known Sunstein for a while -- in fact, my first introduction to Barack Obama was when he guest-blogged for me -- and while he and I disagree on plenty, I think he's an honest, decent and very smart guy who wants to help the country. Since I'm not going to get someone who agrees with me about everything from the Obama Administration (heck, I didn't get that from the Bush Administration) that ought to be enough, and I think that efforts to block his appointment are both unfair and not very smart. If they succeed, he'll be replaced by someone whose views are probably farther to the left (or at least more partisan and pliable), and who will almost certainly be less admirable and honest.
Volokh: “Sunstein is brilliant, thoughtful.” In a January 8, 2009, post headlined “Volokh Conspiracy Guest-Blogger Nominated to High Government Office,” libertarian law professor Eugene Volokh wrote:
Well, OK, his guest-blogging isn't what he's famous for, but allow me to be parochial here, and point to Cass Sunstein's posts from last year. I agree with Todd Zywicki that Sunstein is an excellent choice. Sunstein is brilliant, thoughtful, and ideologically probably as good as libertarianish/conservativish people like me can hope for from the new administration.
WSJ editorial board: Sunstein “brings important qualifications”; Obama “has made a savvy choice.” In a January 10, 2009, editorial, the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote:
We still don't know much about how Barack Obama plans to overhaul our financial regulatory system, but his reported appointment of Cass Sunstein to an important post is a promising sign.
Mr. Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School, is no conservative -- far from it. But his writings on regulation and the herd mentality deserve a voice in the incoming Administration. From his new post as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs inside the White House, he would have an opportunity to put into practice some of the ideas he has written about as an academic.
Odds are that you've never heard of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, but it plays a central role within the executive branch in vetting regulatory proposals. Mr. Sunstein brings important qualifications to that role, and Mr. Obama has made a savvy choice in putting him there.
Former Bush Solicitor General Olson: “I respect him enormously.” In a September 11, 2009, post, FrumForum.com writer Tim Mak reported that former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson said of Sunstein:
“Cass is one of the most brilliant, creative and productive lawyers I have ever known, and a true gentleman. I respect him enormously.”
Former AEI president DeMuth: "[I]t is a shame that his appointment as President Obama's regulatory chief has been delayed for so long." Mak also reported in his September 11, 2009, post:
One of the conservative experts on regulation who knows Sunstein best is past American Enterprise Institute President Christopher Demuth. In an email to NewMajority, DeMuth wrote in praise of the Sunstein selection: "[Sunstein] has publicly and privately supported the most high-profile conservative judicial nominees in recent years, and it is a shame that his appointment as President Obama's regulatory chief has been delayed for so long."
Beck, Fox News have long engaged in witch hunts against Obama officials
Sunstein just one of many Beck, Fox targets. Fox News personalities, including Beck, have been leading the charge against Sunstein and other Obama administration officials and nominees they have described as “czars” -- often by unearthing and criticizing statements the officials had made in the past rather than critiquing their job performance or credentials for those positions. Beck urged his followers in a September 2009 Twitter post to "[f]ind everything you can on Cass Sunstein, Mark Lloyd, and Carol Browner." Beck recently targeted another official, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services nominee Donald Berwick, by distorting his comments.