Kristol/Beck Feud Divides Conservatives

Last week, Glenn Beck unfurled an elaborate, nonsensical conspiracy theory purporting to explain the uprisings in Egypt.

As we documented, over the course of the week, he connected the events in Egypt to the AFL-CIO, Code Pink, the Tides Foundation's Drummond Pike, Frances Fox Piven, Marxist communists (not to be confused with Islamic socialists, who are also involved), ACORN co-founder Wade Rathke, the Muslim Brotherhood, food prices, and Bill Ayers. (Last night, Beck confirmed that our description of his theory was accurate, though he protested that it's “not a conspiracy.”)

Much of his theory revolved around how people on the left are supposedly working with Islamists who want to install a caliphate in the Middle East.

For a brief sampling, here's a segment from Beck's show from last Monday, where he laid out part of his caliphate theory.

In response to Beck's attempt to explain what's going on in Egypt, Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote that Beck has been “marginalizing himself” through his “hysteria,” and said that his rantings recall Robert Welch and the John Birch Society.:

Now, people are more than entitled to their own opinions of how best to accomplish that democratic end. And it's a sign of health that a political and intellectual movement does not respond to a complicated set of developments with one voice.

But hysteria is not a sign of health. 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. [The Weekly Standard, 2/14/11]

Unsurprisingly, Beck and his co-hosts responded by lashing out at Kristol, suggesting that he hasn't done “a minute of research” into the issue and joking about “dumbing it down” for Kristol's benefit.

As their feud continues, several conservative commentators are picking sides. Salon's Alex Pareene got the ball rolling on trying to separate commentators into “Team Beck” and “Team Kristol” - or, as he put it, the “crazy right-wingers against merely nutty.”

Here's how things are shaping up so far.

Team Kristol:

Rich Lowry, National Review Editor And Fox News Contributor: Kristol Took “A Well-Deserved Shot At Glenn Beck's Latest Wild Theorizing.” In a blog post at NRO's The Corner, National Review editor and Fox News contributor Rich Lowry sided with Kristol, writing that he “takes a well-deserved shot at Glenn Beck's latest wild theorizing.”

Jennifer Rubin, Conservative Wash. Post Blogger: Beck Is A “Ranting Extremist.”:

Beck once again has proven how uncivil and unreasoned he is, this time going after Bill Kristol, whom Beck has not the decency to refer to by his real name. Bill took Beck to task recently for his hysterical language and reaction to the Egyptian revolution. And Beck proved Bill's criticism correct by unleashing a stream of insults. You don't have to favor Bill's approach to Egypt or anything else to realize an ad hominem attack without any intellectual argument is really not what conservatives should be all about. There has been plenty of spirited and collegial debate on the topic on the right, as I have explained. But Beck's spasm of bile does his network no favors.

The problem with ranting extremists is they usually wind up impaling themselves and their employers. MSNBC figured out that it could field liberal hosts who were as popular with its audience as Olbermann, without having to put up with the hassles. You wonder how long Fox will take to reach the same conclusion about its own unhinged screamer. [Washington Post, 2/8/11]

Alana Goodman, Commentary Magazine Writer: Beck Engaged In “Distribution Of Blatant Misinformation” About Egypt:

But as Americans grapple with these ideas, there's one thing that is especially unhelpful to the discussion -- and that's the distribution of blatant misinformation. Glenn Beck, instead of taking a hard, sober look at a situation that will have major ramifications for the U.S., has been using his high-profile FOX and radio shows to, in fact, misinform. The new theory Beck appears to be pushing is that the Egyptian revolt is being controlled by an alliance between leftist American organizations and Islamists.

Like most misguided ideas, this theory is based in some truth. Leftist groups like ANSWER and Code Pink have inserted themselves into the Egyptian uprising, and there are indications that they've been reaching out to Islamist organizations. But so what? Many leftist groups are anti-American. Islamist groups are anti-American. That they've reached out to each other is not a particularly surprising, or significant, development.

The danger of Beck's theorizing is that he's spreading the misconception that the uprising in Egypt was initiated by anti-democratic groups, and that it's Islamist at its core. While there's no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and socialist organizations have become involved in the protests, they didn't start the uprising, and that's not what the protests are about. [Commentary, 2/7/11]

Pete Wehner, Commentary Magazine Writer: “If Conservatism Were Ever To Hitch Its Wagon To This Self-Described Rodeo Clown, It Would Collapse As A Movement”:

Leave it to Glenn Beck to sees dots on a map and connect lines invisible to mere mortals, lines that are the result of a massive and astonishingly well-organized conspiracy. It is something out of the twilight zone.

I've been warning about Glenn Beck for a couple of years now, concerned about his erratic behavior and conspiracy theories. “My hunch is that he is a comet blazing across the media sky right now -- and will soon flame out,” I wrote in 2009. “Whether he does or not, he isn't the face or disposition that should represent modern-day conservatism ... he is not the kind of figure conservatives should embrace or cheer on.”

That is triply so today. Beck now insists that he personifies conservative principles. In fact, Beck's ruminations are not the product of a conservative mind as much as a fevered one. If conservatism were ever to hitch its wagon to this self-described rodeo clown, it would collapse as a movement. Thankfully, conservatism's pedigree, from Burke to Buckley to Reagan, will keep that from happening. [Commentary, 2/8/11]

John Fund, Wall Street Journal: Beck's Use Of “Apocalyptic Conspiracy Terms” In Egypt Commentary “Goes Too Far.”:

Look, Glenn Beck is a commentator, and I think that part of his analysis is accurate. Look, we have to remember that the Iranian regime when it collapsed was going to be a democracy, then it was hijacked by Islamic extremists and we're still dealing with them 30 years later and their nuclear weapons. And obviously Europe has a lot more to worry about - you know, by 2030, 9 percent of Europe is going to be Muslim. But to carry that and take it into apocalyptic conspiracy terms about America becoming an Islamic state that goes too far, and I think if Glenn Beck had to do it over again, he might rethink that. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 2/06/11]

Team Beck:

David Horowitz, Conservative Activist: Kristol Should “Be Embarrassed By His Own Ignorance Of The Agendas Of Both American Radicals And Their Jihadist Allies.”:

Bill Kristol is entitled to his optimism about democratic revolutions in the Islamic world. Perhaps the elections in Egypt will turn out better than those in Gaza where Hamas now rules a terrorist state; Iraq, which has instituted an Islamic Republic; Lebanon, where Hezbollah now rules a terrorist state; and Afghanistan, which is a kleptocracy wooing the terrorist theocracy in Iran. What he should not be doing as a conservative leader is demonizing Glenn Beck, who has done more to educate Americans about the unholy alliance between the secular left and the Islamic jihadists than anyone else. Kristol needs to apologize to Beck for comparing him -- outrageously -- to the conspiracist Robert Welch, and should be embarrassed by his own ignorance of the agendas of both American radicals and their jihadist allies. At this point in time, such ignorance is not only inexcusable but dangerous. [NewsReal Blog, 2/8/11]

Mark Levin, Radio Host: “You're Making An Ass Of Yourself...Cool It With The Stalinist Purge Crap, Bill.”:

With all due respect Bill, you're not purging anyone.

And while you're at it Bill, bone up on the American Revolution, Locke, Burke, Tocqueville, et al, etc., because you're making an ass of yourself.

Further, Krauthammer and scores of other conservatives, not to mention leading Israelis, are right to be concerned or at least cautious about events in Egypt. Their reason is not blinded by your ideological cheerleading, Bill.

We all hope this turns out well. But cool it with the Stalinist purge crap, Bill. [Mark Levin's Facebook Page, 2/6/11]

Pamela Geller, Anti-Islam Activist: “Kristol Is So Wrong, Inexcusably So. Glenn Beck Nailed It.”:

The left-wing lemmings are eating up this discourse among us like maggots on dead flesh, but that is their only joy, so let them have it. They are overjoyed to see one conservative attack another, as Kristol goes after Glenn Beck:

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.

But Kristol is so wrong, inexcusably so. Glenn Beck nailed it. The advance of Islamic supremacism is exactly what is at play here. And we are right to be cautious. Nobody expects Mubarak to survive -- we only care about what comes after.

Finally, someone had the guts to speak to Islamic supremacism and its global project nine years after September 11, and Kristol smacks him down. Many of us have been covering this for years, perplexed and disturbed that no one in the mainstream media dared touch it.

The left always aligns itself with the totalitarian ideology of the day (i.e., Stalinism, Communism, National Socialism, etc.), and so it is with Islamic supremacism. Those of us covering the anti-America, anti-war, anti-Israel movement have documented this for years. CODE PINK, ANSWER, Al Awda, the Socialist Workers Party, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), CAIR, ISNA, If Americans Knew (IAK), Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have been working and agitating together for years.

Trust me, Mr. Kristol, Beck did not “invent” that. [American Thinker, 2/8/11]

Taylor King, Big Journalism Writer: If Anything, "Beck Should Be Criticized For Being So Late To Recognize The Global Conspiracy Between The Left And Islamists To Bring Down America." [Note: this post has since vanished from the Big Journalism website.]

If he is to be criticized for anything, Beck should be criticized for being so late to recognize the global conspiracy between the left and Islamists to bring down America, Israel and the West. It is true that Islamists want to establish a global caliphate and Marxists want to establish a global communist government. How will the two partners reconcile their different end-goals should they succeed in taking down America? We hope we don't have to find out.

Code Pink and the left don't care about democracy in Egypt. Their goal is to take out an American ally and partner with Israel for peace. If you doubt this, read ourBig Peace article detailing Code Pink's history of subverting American allies like Egypt while propping up our enemies like Iran.

Beck also reported on the rally in California a week ago co-led by Code Pink that called for the lynching of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, and the “quarantine” of conservative financiers the Koch brothers.

Words mean something. When those opposed to America and her allies like Code Pink call for “cleansing” “lynchings” and “quarantines” of their enemies we should be alarmed. Especially so when those calling for such actions work with groups and governments like Hamas, Iran and Cuba who really do “cleanse,” “lynch” and “quarantine” their political enemies.

Kristol, Lowry and Klein should take a stroll outside their elite comfort zones and attend an anti-war rally or so-called pro democracy-for-Egypt rally in New York or D.C. If they did, they would see for themselves examples of the alliance between the left and Islamists in action. [Big Journalism, 2/8/11 - Google Cache Version]

R.S. McCain, Conservative Blogger: “Don't Believe That Crazy Conspiracy-Theory Stuff. Trust The Serious Foreign Policy Pundits. Because They've Never Been Wrong Before.”

According to every Serious Foreign Policy Pundit, it's absolutely insane for Beck to assert that the Left and the Islamists are in alliance to bring revolution to the Middle East. However, as Donald Douglas points out, that's what the Left is telling us:

The neo-Stalinist ANSWER homepage has the announcement, "Emergency demonstrations: Stop all U.S. aid to Mubarak dictatorship" . . .

Code Pink's Jodie Evans . . . served as a top campaign fundraiser for Barack Obama, and now her organization is leading a fundraising operation for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: "Code Pink: Obama, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood Ally Raising (Tax Exempt) Money to Overthrow Egypt Gov't" . . .

But don't let yourself be distracted by mere facts. Bill Kristol says Glenn Beck is “hysterical” and it must be true because, after all, Bill Kristol is a Serious Foreign Policy Pundit and Glenn Beck is just . . . well, he's just Glenn Beck, right?

And really, who is this Lisa Graas person who tells us about “Five Revolutions Backed by George Soros”?

"The Soros centre's job in eastern Europe is nearly finished. Its main focus now is the Islamic world, Arab countries, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc."

Oh, that's not a quote from Lisa Graas. That's a 2007 quote by Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant for the Soros-funded Open Society Institute.

But don't believe that crazy conspiracy-theory stuff. Trust the Serious Foreign Policy Pundits. Because they've never been wrong before. [The Other McCain, 2/6/11]