The brewing Kristol, Beck feud

THE BREWING KRISTOL, BECK FEUD…. Well, this ought to be interesting.

Last week, Fox News’ Glenn Beck launched a week-long effort to explain developments in Egypt as only he can. The deranged media personality cooked up truly bizarre conspiracy theories — even by his standards — involving caliphates, communists, and radical theocrats, all of whom are coordinating their efforts for “the coming insurrection” and the “new world order,” which will apparently include China seizing New Zealand.

Over the weekend, The Weekly Standard‘s William Kristol, a Fox News contributor, had seen enough. “[H]ysteria is not a sign of health,” Kristol wrote in a new column. “When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.”

Nearly as important, National Review’s Rich Lowry, who’s also a Fox News contributor, praised Kristol for taking “a well-deserved shot at Glenn Beck’s latest wild theorizing.” Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, another very conservative media voice, added that Beck’s use of “apocalyptic conspiracy terms” when describing Egypt “goes too far.”

Apparently, Beck caught wind of all of this, and lashed out at Kristol on his radio show this morning.

“I don’t even know if you understand what conservatives are anymore, Billy,” Beck said in his extended, sarcastic attack on Kristol. “People like Bill Kristol, I don’t think they stand for anything anymore. All they stand for is power. They’ll do anything to keep their little fiefdom together, and they’ll do anything to keep the Republican power entrenched.”

I especially liked it when Beck asked rhetorically on the air, “Have you done a minute of research, Bill?” It’s amusing to think Beck believes additional scholarly work would prove there’s a global conspiracy to “divvy up” the world between communists and “radical Islamists.” If only Kristol would do more “research,” he’d see how right Beck’s delusions are.

We’ll see if Kristol feels compelled to respond to this, though I rather doubt he’ll bother. The larger point to keep in mind, though, is that the fissures within the right that generally go unnoticed are starting to widen.

In the case of U.S. policy towards Egypt, the dynamic is well beyond left vs. right. Instead we’re seeing (a) those in the U.S. who support the protesters, their calls for sweeping democratic reforms, and Mubarak’s ouster; (b) those who support Mubarak and fear his unknown replacement; and (c) those who believe caliphates run by zombie Islamists, the Illuminati, and the Loch Ness Monster are coming to steal your car.

Joe Klein noted over the weekend that he’s “heard, from more than a couple of conservative sources, that prominent Republicans have approached Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes about the potential embarrassment that the paranoid-messianic rodeo clown may bring upon their brand. The speculation is that Beck is on thin ice.”

A feud with Kristol almost certainly won’t help.