Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Glenn Beck, Stewart Style

This has been all over the blogosphere, but I'm still not tired of it, and it's an instant classic. Stewart plunges into the demagogic truthiness of Glenn Beck:

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If you're not familiar with Glenn Beck's shtick, Crooks and Liars has a good collection. The Daily Show has mocked him many times before, as has Colbert. I haven't written much on the guy, but this October post on Beck's McCarthyist style links several good pieces on him.

A few observations. Many Americans are feeling uneasy, with good reason. There are individual exceptions within them, but overall neither major political party is taking on the power players on Wall Street who nearly destroyed the world economy and are reckless about doing it again. Beck plays off of that real unease, although his main target is the teabagger crowd watching his show on Fox News, and their discomforts are more numerous, reactionary and alarming. Beck's a bit crazy, and he says grossly false, idiotic and illogical things all the time. But he's proven to be pretty successful as a demagogue because he knows his audience. Beck fans hear him speaking an emotional truth to them. He expresses their anxieties and he gives them scapegoats. I tried to cover some of the dangerous demagoguery on death panels and Nazis in an August post (" Obama can't be trusted because he doesn't hate the right people. And surely Obama must hate us as much as we hate him."). But as several others including Digby have noted, for Beck's audience, what he says doesn't need to make sense.

I've said it before, but The Daily Show and The Colber Report are truly brilliant with ridiculous frequency. That's very, very hard, and it's easy to take for granted because they make it look so effortless. This particular bit is also one of Stewart's best individual performances. Mocking the scoundrels and fools in power is extremely important, and sometimes all we have, so thank goodness for artists and comedians.

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