‘A right-wing ranter bordering on a demagogue’

‘A RIGHT-WING RANTER BORDERING ON A DEMAGOGUE’…. I’d forgotten all about Glenn Beck’s comedy extravaganza. Apparently, the Fox News personality performed last night in Kansas City, Mo., and the two-hour event — including the odd 15-minute break in the middle — was simulcast to more than 440 movie houses around the country last night.

The New York Times‘ Mike Hale attended one of the 440, along with 13 pro-Beck New Yorkers. Today, Hale reports on Beck’s “Common Sense” comedy show.

There were no tears. Perhaps Mr. Beck dialed things back because the show is largely a promotional vehicle for his new book, “Glenn Beck’s Common Sense,” which he hawked from the stage and which was advertised relentlessly during that 15-minute break. There’s some cognitive dissonance there: one of his big applause lines, which is also one of his few clearly stated points, is “we need to stop spending.” On everything except Glenn Beck’s books and DVD’s, apparently.

But despite the modulation, and the smooth, folksy Garrison Keillor-with-a-bee-in-his-bonnet delivery, there was little in the show to reassure those who see Mr. Beck as a right-wing ranter bordering on a demagogue. […]

One of Mr. Beck’s favorite rhetorical tactics is a combination of misdirection and guilt by association: he doesn’t say nasty things about ethnic minorities or homosexuals, but he will slip in a reference to how all our cars will soon be built by undocumented workers, and he will, in a long, lame anecdote about “liberal” artists and the Metropolitan Museum, switch into a high, lisping voice for just a second.

Beck made fun of Timothy Geithner’s appearance, and mocked Henry Waxman’s nose. He connected Woodrow Wilson and Joseph Goebbels. He railed against the dreaded “they,” who are up to no good, failing to note who “they” are.

I can’t believe I missed this important cultural event.

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