September 11 is a very important day for Glenn Beck. For one thing, the king of all right-wing media talks about it all the time -- more on that in a second. What's more, the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, are pretty much what made the Fox News Channel host into the national lightning rod that he is today. It was the vehicle that caused him to complete his journey from a Morning Zoo "rodeo clown" to a political guy who suddenly was replacing the so-9/10 Laura Schlessinger on radio outlets coast to coast and then leading a series of transparently self-serving honoring-the-troops rallies for Clear Channel.
But Beck has talked a lot about 9/11 over nine years -- and with the highly notable exception of his bizarre September 2005 attack on the family members of victims of the terrorist attack, the emphasis has been on extreme reverence for that day in American history. When he was getting off the ground on FNC, he used the images of 9/11 to launch project he claimed would bring Americans back together.
As recounted in my new book The Backlash, he said of the attacks on his now infamous March 13, 2009, "We Surround Them" program:
"[t]he skies were filled with black clouds and our hearts were full of terror and fear. We realized -- for the first time -- how fragile we really were." As Beck addressed his coast-to-coast audience, viewers saw images of anguished, tearful women, head in hands, mouths agape, staring at the hellish fires of the World Trade Center, then a mother racing down a Manhattan byway pushing two children in a stroller, away from the deadly dust.
The 9/12 Project, which devolved in a matter of days into an anti-Barack Obama backlash movement, was described by Beck as aimed:
to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the values and the principles of the greatest nation ever created.
In fact, Beck even told his much ballyhooed Restoring Honor rally in D.C. last month that 9/11 was a sign from the Almighty, presumably to turn Americans away from things like greed and back to the things that really matter:
BECK: He has been sending us wake-up calls, and you can send two kinds of wake-up calls. One through fear, like 9/11. Nine-eleven woke us up, and we stood shoulder-to-shoulder for a very short period of time. Politics didn't matter. Color didn't matter. It didn't matter if you were poor or if you were rich. We were Americans together. Beyond that, we were God's human creation standing together.
So, with that all as a backdrop, what matters the most to Glenn Beck on September 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of the day that terrorists slaughtered nearly 3,000 innocent Americans and ripped apart the lives of their families and friends?
Cashing in, apparently.
In Palinland, of all places.
The spiritual guru of the 9-12 Project will be marking the anniversay of 9-11 along with his new best friend Sarah Palin with a high-priced (and as far as the actual program goes, somewhat mysterious) event at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska. The potential event has been rumored and discussed under the radar for days, possibly even as the launch of a Palin 2012 presidential bid.
But apparently, in the immortal words of Steve Martin in "The Jerk," it's yet another "profit deal" for the two leading high-def hucksters of the right wing. According to the Ticketmaster page, tickets for this solemn 9-11 commemoration run from a low of $73 to a top price of $130, and that's not all. There's also $225 for a special meet-and-greet with Beck (and possibly with Palin), so that die-hard (and not economically struggling) Beck fans can wish him a happy 9-11 in person.
If there's a contradiction or some sort of irony in cashing in over 9-11, that seems to have eluded the hosts. Palin wrote this week on her Facebook page: "We can count on Glenn to make the night interesting and inspiring, and I can think of no better way to commemorate 9/11 than to gather with patriots who will 'never forget.' "
Visa and MasterCard accepted.
Truth be told, outrageous as Beck's latest scheme is, it's almost hard to work up the outrage at this point because to those of us who aren't drinking the David Barton-fueled Kool-Aid, this is simply who Beck is: One of the most shameless businesspeople in America, who happens to be in the business of entertainment and warping some minds politically in the process. Beck has millions of fans -- and to him they are all walking ATM machines. He thinks nothing of selling the people who admire him overpriced gold coins or surivial seed banks and "Food Insurance" kits, none of which they need, and almost every Beck event not named "Restoring Honor" is designed around maximizing ticket prices.
That's why Glenn Beck made $32 million last year and Sarah Palin made $12 million in a matter of months.
The only difference is that this time it's 9/11.
And Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are open for business 365 days a year.