Two slightly belated thoughts about Glenn Beck’s egopalooza on the Mall Saturday. One, it didn’t seem very interesting! I watched the opening of Beck’s show last night, and it seemed to me that he was straining to describe what actually happened. Beck spent about five minutes talking about how Sarah Palin prayed for 10 minutes backstage, the bulletproof vest he wore, and the flock of birds that flew overhaed early in the proceedings. (Beck described this a “miracle,” which rather seems to be lowering the bar from, say, parting the seas or turning a staff into a snake.) Beck also talked at length about how well everyone behaved and how little political “anger,” or anger of any kind, had been evident. Instead, he cast it as a day about restoring some vague sense of personal and national “honor,” and talking at great and surprising length about Beck’s favorite new topic: God.
The second, related, thought is that Beck’s new emphasis on religion strikes me as a strange move. My admittedly imperfect sense of his followers is that they are not primarily interested in sitting in the grass talking about God. They are interested in grand conspiracy theories about how Bill Ayers and Cass Sunstein, with the help of small Soros-funded groups you’ve never heard of, are slowly driving America to a terrifying socialist-fascist hybrid future. They are angry, they want to name names, they want to call people names. I’m sure many of them are religious. But I’m not sure they see Beck–who is a Mormon leading an overwhelmingly non-Mormon flock–as their spiritual guide.
Ultimately I find myself wondering whether Beck realized, after announcing his rally on the day of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, that his usual conspiracism and Obama-bashing would seem in poor taste even by his standards, and he grasped for another shoe that didn’t quite fit. Let’s see how long he wears it.