Tuned In

Your Guide to the Coming Glenn Beck Century

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Have you heard what one of Obama’s czars is saying now? Apparently this guy is out there telling people that he’s assembled a council of advisers to chart a new course for America. He wants to undo the last century of American history. And he—get this—says the U.S. needs “a hundred-year-plan” and “we need to start thinking like the Chinese”!

Thinking like the who?! Holy cow—wait ’till Glenn Beck hears about this creeping Maoism. Bet you anything that Beck’s going to tear “Comrade Think Like the Chinese” a new… what? Huh? It’s who?

Sorry. Apparently the guy who’s rolling out a Chinese-style hundred-year-plan is Glenn Beck.

That, anyway, is the line that Beck rolled out in Florida’s Villages retirement community this weekend. (Video above courtesy of Media Matters.) He also previewed his next phase of political activism for the New York Times, saying that he will sponsor voter-registration drives, hold a series of conventions and aim to make his followers more politically active and effective before the 2010 midterms. Of course, “The Plan” is also all tied to a book, coming to a store near you in August. Said Beck in Florida, “I am drafting plans now to bring us back to an America that our founders would understand.”

What I’ve heard so far of Beck’s announcement is short of specifics. But one thing I’ve always admired about and boggled at with Beck is how he feels no need to soft-pedal the more out-there, National-Treasure-like elements of his worldview. Such as, here, his adamant belief that America was run off the rails 100 years ago by the Progressives, and has been run down by a conspiracy of Republicans and Democrats trying to achieve a “socialist utopia.”

Say what you want about Beck, I have to admire the certitude of a man who believes he can organize a national movement by getting people pissed off at Teddy Roosevelt.

You’ll probably hear a lot of comment about this in the coming days, weeks, or, I don’t know, centuries, much of the talk focused on the question of Beck’s sanity. But I will take a stand here and say that I do not believe Glenn Beck is crazy. I believe Glenn Beck is ill. He suffers from a malady common among media celebrities: BelieveYourOwnHype-itis, an inflammation of the brain caused by too-credulous repeated readings of one’s own press clippings.

The natural next step is for Beck to start talking in terms of glorious centuries, sounding increasingly like his own caricatures of hubristic Obamaite social revolutionaries. Thus, a man who is basically a gifted political entertainer / prop comic has decided that he is, instead, the man to guide America through the next century.

(Or, as I’m sure he’d probably say, he’s simply the guy helping the citizens of America to guide themselves to the next century, by unleashing their own energy and common sense. Because the first rule of having a Messiah complex is to act like it’s only a John the Baptist complex.)

Mind you, I’m not judging Beck’s “plan” pro or con simply on its merits, only because we have few details of it. But the idea of a cable-news infotainment demagogue anointing himself the next savior/kingmaker of America has the potential to go very bad, become extremely entertaining or both.

I don’t think Glenn Beck is about to run for President, simply because I don’t believe that I have done anything to deserve being that lucky as a columnist. But it does look like Fox News’ self-proclaimed “rodeo clown” has now decided that he is, instead, the bull.