Always one to prefer drama over substance, it was little surprise that Glenn Beck was nearly an hour late to his own rally in The Villages (a retirement community in Florida) on November 21. During the wait, Beck's patient and very non-diverse crowd was treated to supposedly live footage on giant video screens of him getting lost driving a golf cart to the rally. He admitted to have gone in a circle at least once, complaining that it took 50 minutes to drive just three miles. Soon afterward, his big tour bus pulled up alongside the crowd, and Glenn Beck took to the stage among loud cheers and applause.
Beck wasted little time before displaying his narcissism, declaring himself and all those present as the nation's "Constitution czar" just a few minutes into his appearance. He then tried to stir up the crowd with what appeared to be a reference to climate change, declaring: “The science is not settled. We will not sit down. We will not shut up. We will stand!”
Next, Beck decided to try to scare the crowd with the size of the national debt, throwing out big, impressive-sounding numbers like $12 trillion, the current level. Naturally, he did not mention that such numbers are far less scary with the proper context. When Beck brought up the projected debt 10 years from now, he seemed to acknowledge his own and Fox News' lack of credibility on this issue, saying that “Now, that's not from Glenn Beck and Fox News ... [that's] from WhiteHouse.gov.” Beck then issued a call for all present to live within their means, declaring that “we must change our lifestyle, because our lifestyle is unsustainable.” Beck continued to display his ignorance of how deficit-neutral legislation works, complaining that it's only “debt-neutral” because “somebody has got to pay for it.”
Next, Beck continued on his crusade to expose the corruption in this country, though of course only corruption relating to anything and anyone connected to the Democratic Party, declaring that the $100 million in the Senate health care bill for Louisiana is a "$100 million bribe for one person's vote." Demanding that “The corruption must stop,” Glenn invoked the case of former Congressman William Jefferson, and just like any good little political hack, he did not mention any Republican corruption problems. Beck then revealed that he was really concerned about this issue not because they are stealing from us, but our children.
As usual, Beck then brought up the example of the Weimar Republic of Germany. Glenn then tried to connect to his audience, saying that he knows “You're not the ones getting rich right now, you're not the one taking all of your money and buying precious minerals.” No, it's Beck who is the one getting rich right now. (And better not let Beck's advertisers hear about his precious-minerals comment.) Beck then cited Nouriel Roubini to say that our country is building up an “asset bubble,” which of course said will more or less mean the end of our economy when it collapses.
Beck then gave the requisite shout-out to Ronald Reagan, because as Beck put it, he always felt like Reagan was telling him the truth and treating him like an adult, even though Beck was a child at the time, and that he made it seem like there was always “hope on the other side.” In that spirit of telling the truth, treating Americans like adults, and providing hope, Beck engaged the crowd in an analogy comparing America to the Titanic. Of course, Beck stated that it was the current administration that was “ramming it into the iceberg” with “health care, cap and trade, and stimulus.” Beck used this analogy as a vehicle to get to the point of this whole rally, announcing that his plan for America will be like the lifeboats of the Titanic. After another shout-out, this time to the 9-12ers present, Beck continued this Titanic analogy to speak about why he created the 9-12 Project, which was so that nobody who sees what Beck sees is coming would feel alone.
Next, Beck explained the first step of his plan. He has formed a shadow cabinet to advise him on various issues including health care, defense, energy, education, and others, just like a political figure. Beck then astonishingly declared that “we need to start thinking like the Chinese” , and announcing he would spend the next year with his shadow cabinet to create "a 100-year plan for America."
Beck then spent a few moments engaging in his famous emotional side, promising the crowd that if they followed him, they would be able to tell their children they did all they could for America. To do this, they could go to any of Beck's seven "education conventions" to learn “everything we need to know” such as an alternative history of the Statue of Liberty, and even community organizing, and of course Beck will “teach you how to be a politician” if you really want to run for office. (Will Beck train attendees how to quit before your first term as governor has expired, and improperly use your taxpayer-funded resources to put on a partisan political event, just like two of his favorite politicians?) Beck finished this plan up by taking an unsurprising potshot at ACORN, and announcing that he will organize voter registration drives, stating that “two can play at this game.” Does that mean he will fire anyone who fills out voter registration forms fraudulently, yet turn in all voter registration forms as required by law in many states? Only time will tell.
After asking all those assembled to make plans to join him in Washington, D.C. “at the feet of Abraham Lincoln” next August on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous speech, Beck dispelled any rumors that he will run for political office, to the dismay of the crowd. He then made a pre-emptive strike against credible crowd estimates for his rally, saying that the crowd will be reported as “tens of thousands ... on the Mall.” Incidentally, Media Matters has documented Beck's practice of inflating crowd sizes for the events that he promotes. Beck then promised that at the planned D.C. rally, the congressional representatives “will either come to us, or we will blow by them and put our own people in.” Next, Beck declared that if what he demands will lead to the rise of a third party and destroy the two-party system, “so be it, they should to be destroyed.”
Raising the fear that those in debt could be enslaved in the future, Beck called on everyone present to be an example for the country, to get out of debt and to not use violence - which he often feels the need to plead with his viewers to refrain from committing. He also called on his followers to be as religiously devout as the Pilgrims were when they landed. After all, as Beck said, “If He is on our side, who can stand against us?” Later on, Beck complained about South Park, Saturday Night Live, and The Daily Show mocking him. He then asked if everyone present was prepared to sacrifice everything for their children, to lose their jobs, their homes, to live like their grandparents -- or in many cases, their parents or even themselves - lived during the Great Depression, and nearly every hand in view shot up.
Beck concluded his rally by continuing with his Titanic analogy, then urging everyone to join him next year “as we take our country back, and usher in the next greatest generation of Americans.” This was obviously no mere speech by a member of the media. This was a classic political rally, designed to rev up what is now undeniably Glenn Beck's political base to help him accomplish a political agenda. And it all leads to the question: Just how much political organizing is too much for Fox News?