Beck the Bailout Booster

BECK THE BAILOUT BOOSTER…. When it comes to right-wing populism, last year’s bailout of the financial industry holds a unique place in the panoply of conservative complaints. Despite having come from a conservative Republican president and his conservative Republican Treasury secretary, the idea of throwing $700 billion at banks that nearly collapsed the global economy draws the intense ire of the Tea Party crowd.

The trick, then, is for conservative leaders to ride the wave of anger effectively. We talked yesterday about Mitt Romney, who said earlier in the year that “bailing out banks was “necessary to prevent a cascade of bank collapses,” but who’s since changed his mind.

But a Romney flip-flop is about as common as the sunrise. Of greater interest is Glenn Beck’s reversal.

Yesterday, in an apparent attempt at bipartisanship, Beck targeted TARP. “[Obama] will say that Bush started us down the path toward socialism, and he’d be right by that,” Beck told his Fox News audience. “Bush started the crazy spending. He would be right again. Bush started the bailouts. Yes, he did — [I] hated him for it.”

And while this rhetoric is no doubt applauded by Teabaggers, Beck had a very different message last fall. Indeed, exactly one year ago today, Beck publicly endorsed the bank bailouts.

“[W]e are in the middle of an all-out financial emergency, and emergencies have a way of really testing people.

“In normal times, under normal circumstances, if you tune in to me, you know me as somebody who would tell the federal government exactly where to take their bailout plans and shove it right up their you-know-what. But these are anything but normal times.

“I thought about it an awful lot this weekend, and while it takes me — it takes everything in me to say this, I think the bailout is the right thing do.

“The ‘Real Story’ is: The $700 billion that you’re hearing about now is not only, I believe, necessary, it is also not nearly enough, and all of the weasels in Washington know it.”

Beck probably doesn’t remember calling the bailout “necessary” and the “right thing to do,” and he probably hopes his followers don’t remember it either. But that’s what he said.

D-Day added, “Beck saw a movement stirring on the furthest reaches of the right and got out in front of it. Before that he was pretty firmly behind his President in bailing out the top banks. The difference is that now, the political energy on the right is with the teabaggers, and it makes sense to Beck to capitalize on that energy. But he has nothing approaching a coherent worldview. Whatever gets the most eyeballs.”

I’ll look forward to Glenn Beck ’09 denouncing Glenn Beck ’08 as a socialistic sell-out who doesn’t care about our freedoms.