The right-wing media have repeatedly mischaracterized Attorney General Eric Holder's recent reference to "my people" to claim that he is a "black nationalist" or that the Obama Justice Department is motivated by "racial bias." In his statement, Holder actually took issue with the suggestion that a 2008 incident involving the New Black Panther Party was a more "blatant form of voter intimidation" than what occurred in the 1960s; Holder said the suggestion "does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all."
The year Glenn Beck was born, Harper's published an essay by Richard Hofstadter in which the historian explained a "style of mind" common among "extreme right-wingers" of his time. He referred to it as "the paranoid style" for it adequately described this small minority's "sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy." Today, it's become increasingly clear that no other conservative personifies Hofstadter's "paranoid spokesman" for the 21st century more than Fox News' Beck.
Wrote Hofstadter in his 1964 essay:
The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms -- he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millenialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date fort the apocalypse. ("Time is running out," said [Robert H.] Welch in 1951. "Evidence is piling up on many sides and from many sources that October 1952 is the fatal month when Stalin will attack.")
As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish.
As Simon Maloy noted in December 2009, "Beck's America is one that is beset on all sides and constantly on the verge of collapse." Indeed, for the past few years, Beck has perennially warned of an "Archduke Ferdinand moment," as well as an imminent "perfect storm," which he claims will be an "attack unlike anything ever before from multiple fronts." On his February 25 show, for example, Beck stated: "The rain has begun to fall in the perfect storm. It has begun."
During the same show, Beck announced:
BECK: We're at a tipping point. We've seen protests in Wisconsin spread from state to state. Van Jones has called on the, quote, "powers that be" in both parties to come together in solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin. He says organized workers, business leaders, veterans, students, youths, faith leaders, civil rights fighters, women's rights champions, immigrant rights defenders, LGBTQ stalwarts, environmentalists, academics, artists, celebrities, community activists, elected officials, and more -- he says they all need to come together and stand up for what is right. He goes on to say, quoting, "This is our tea party movement in a positive sense."
America, we are living in a country that I said, two years ago, before the election of Barack Obama, I said there is gonna come a time when you wake up in America and you won't recognize it anymore.
This claim that we have arrived at a "tipping point" or that a specific event heralds a "tipping point" is another revealing element of Beck's apocalyptic rhetoric. For years, in fact, Beck has harped on this imaginary "tipping point" to set himself apart as today's premier paranoid stylist:
In an interview with Newmax TV that is scheduled to air on February 27, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich discussed how President Obama "is breaking his word to the American people" over the Defense of Marriage Act, and stated:
GINGRICH: He swore an oath on the Bible to become president that he would uphold the Constitution and enforce the laws of the United States. He's not a one-person Supreme Court. The idea that we now have the rule of Obama instead of the rule of law should frighten everybody.
Imagine that Governor [Sarah] Palin had become president. Imagine that she had announced that Roe versus Wade in her judgment was unconstitutional and therefore the United States government would no longer protect anyone's right to have an abortion because she personally had decided it should be changed. The news media would have gone crazy. The New York Times would have demanded her impeachment.
The fact that the left likes the policy is allowing them to ignore the fact that this is a very unconstitutional act.
The Justice Department recently announced that it will no longer defend Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act following a review, in conjunction with the White House, that found that its definition of marriage as a "legal union between one man and one woman" is unconstitutional. But, as we've documented, the administration will not stop enforcing the law. Moreover, presidents from Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush have opted against defending statutes they viewed as unconstitutional.
When the host asked, "Is what he's doing impeachable in your view?" Gingrich replied: "I think that's something you get to much later. But I think clearly it is a dereliction of duty, clearly it is a violation of his constitutional oath, and clearly it is something which cannot be allowed to stand."
When the host pressed further, "At what point would the House or would you recommend the House consider articles of impeachment for that?" Gingrich replied:
GINGRICH: I think first you'd ought -- you have to communicate. Look, I don't think these guys set out to cause a constitutional crisis. I think they set out to pay off their allies in the gay community and to do something that they thought was clever. I think that they didn't understand the implication that having a president personally suspend a law is clearly unconstitutional. This is an impossible precedent.
Politico has now reported that Gingrich "is disputing the Newmax story, arguing that it 'inaccurately' suggested impeachment." In a statement, Gingrich reportedly said:
Congress has every responsibility to demand President Obama live up to his constitutional obligations, but impeachment is clearly not an appropriate action.
Glenn Beck said tonight on his show that he knows why President Obama has not condemned Libya's Moammar Gadhafi "by name." In fact, Beck said, Obama "hasn't mentioned his name ... at all in at least a month" and the "interesting" reason behind that, Beck revealed, has everything to do with Obama's past relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Proceeding to play his version of Connect Four in three moves, Beck showed us exactly how Obama is tied to Gadhafi through Wright.
This is what Beck said his crack research team uncovered: Rev. Wright is Obama's former longtime pastor. According to a clip Beck aired from a February 2008 interview of then-candidate Obama with NBC's Tim Russert, Wright once "said that Louis Farrakhan 'epitomizes greatness.' " And in 1984, Wright reportedly went to Libya with Farrakhan to meet with Gadhafi.
If we went digging into Beck's past going back decades and applied the same loose logic he uses, how many out-and-out crazy people would we find? How many statements would Beck have to distance himself from? I went ahead and played my own connect-the-dots and this is what I uncovered:
In a post on his Twitter feed, Capital Research Center senior editor Matthew Vadum wrote:
The link Vadum included went to a post by Ben Stein on The American Spectator blog, in which Stein argued that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act amounted to "a major constitutional coup":
I am all for gay men and women to have every right that I have. But isn't it a dangerous usurpation for the president to now take over the roles of the courts in their ultimate duty -- ruling on the constitutionality of laws? Isn't this about as dangerous an act as a president has ever done? Or am I missing something? Again, I love gay people and want them to be total equals of everyone else. But isn't there a major constitutional coup going on here?
The Department of Justice recently announced that it will no longer defend Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act following a review, in conjuction with the White House, that found that its definition of marriage as a "legal union between one man and one woman" is unconstitutional. But that does not mean, as Vadum suggested, that the administration will stop enforcing the law. Indeed, the Justice Department has stressed that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law until Congress repeals Section Three or a court renders the section unconstitutional.
Moreover, in his letter to congressional leadership, Holder cited the basis upon which the executive branch chose not to defend this part of the legislation. Holder said that while "plausible" arguments could be made on behalf of the law, there were really no "reasonable" arguments available to defend it and the Justice Department has previously declined to defend laws in such a circumstance:
As you know, the Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense, a practice that accords the respect appropriately due to a coequal branch of government. However, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because the Department does not consider every plausible argument to be a "reasonable" one. "[D]ifferent cases can raise very different issues with respect to statutes of doubtful constitutional validity," and thus there are "a variety of factors that bear on whether the Department will defend the constitutionality of a statute." Letter to Hon. Orrin G. Hatch from Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fois at 7 (Mar. 22, 1996). This is the rare case where the proper course is to forgo the defense of this statute. Moreover, the Department has declined to defend a statute "in cases in which it is manifest that the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional," as is the case here. Seth P. Waxman, Defending Congress, 79 N.C. L.Rev. 1073, 1083 (2001).
In his appearance on Bill O'Reilly's show, Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters again showed how much he cares about American lives. While attacking President Obama's comments on Libya, which he called "mega wimpy," Peters dismissed the administration's reasons for refusing to call for Moammar Gadhafi's outright ouster, saying U.S. concerns for the safety of Americans living in the country are "pure spin."
This isn't the first time Peters has shown blatant disregard for the safety of Americans abroad. In 2009, Peters suggested that the Taliban kill a U.S. soldier it had captured if it turned out the soldier was a deserter.
Tonight, discussing the worsening violence against government protestors in Libya on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly agreed that Obama's response to the situation there "is beyond wimpy," adding: "Gadhafi is a terrorist. He's a killer. Everybody knows it. So the moment that Libya went up, if I were president, I would've said not only do we want this guy out, we want this guy in Guantanamo Bay." He then stated; "We asked the White House this, and this was their response. They didn't come out against Gadhafi in the beginning because they wanted to get all Americans in Libya out of there. And they felt that if they had attacked Gadhafi verbally, that Gadhafi would have sent his thugs to kill Americans." Turning to Peters, O'Reilly asked: "You say?"
PETERS: That's pure spin. Gadhafi knew and knows that if he touched an American, that's the excuse we need and we'd be in there. Even Obama couldn't stop himself from sending in air strikes, special ops, marines, whatever. And so, that's just another red herring because this is -- it's -- Obama is a very smart man, but he's Hamlet -- always wringing his hands: "To be or not to be." And we need a president who makes decisions, who takes firm stands. And he needed to say today, if not much sooner, Gadhafi's government has lost all legitimacy. Gadhafi must go.
In an episode dedicated to vilifying Planned Parenthood, Fox News' Glenn Beck highlighted the organization's historical ties to Margaret Sanger -- a proponent of some forms of eugenics -- and stated: "I believe one thing is true: A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Period. You need to know the roots of the this tree." However, Beck previously promoted a group that was founded by John Tanton, who has also been associated with eugenics and remains on the group's board today.
During his Thursday night show, Glenn Beck expressed a fair amount of outrage over "pictures and signs and videos that are dominating the protests [in Wisconsin]: comparisons of the governor with Hitler, Mubarak -- claims that he is a dictator." He went on to praise Michelle Malkin for "thankfully ... focusing her attention" on that. In a series of posts on her blog, Malkin attacked "union thugs" for calling Gov. Scott Walker " 'the dictator' governor, 'Hosni Walker,' and 'Mubarak of the Midwest.' "
Beck also aired a clip of President Obama saying, "I think it's important not to vilify" state workers, and asked: "Is it important to point out that we shouldn't vilify the people that are comparing the governor of the state to Mubarak?"
But here is Beck from two weeks ago, comparing Obama to a dictator:
BECK: Did anybody notice the remarkable statements from the president last week where the president was saying, look, as long as people are peacefully assembling, they have a right to speak and the government should listen to them. All of -- when he's saying that, all I can think of was the speech where he's walking around going, "And they're carrying tea bags," and mocking the American people.
And then, while they're pushing for an Internet kill switch for the president, that does not have judicial review -- in fact, it specifically says courts cannot review the decision. While they're pushing for that in our own Congress on Friday, he's telling Mubarak, anybody who tries to control the Internet and television and radio, that's a sign of a dictator. Come on.