Beck is certainly more unsettled in his opinions than Hannity, Limbaugh & Co, which means that he’s more willing to put on his show people with an “alternative” right-wing perspective, whether it be strict Constitutionalists or Austrian-inflected economists.
Beck’s “curiosity” aside, whenever he has been faced with a serious moment of decision, he has invariably come down on the side of the conservative-GOP establishment, and the Washington Power Elite more generally. Beck supported the Wall Street bailouts as not only “necessary” but “not nearly enough”; he was a terror warrior indistinguishable from Hannity throughout the Bush years; and after being invited to the Whitehouse, he discussed how Dubya felt the pain of dead soldiers. Beck found “libertarian” and “antiwar conservative” religion conveniently after the inauguration of a Democratic president.
It’s hard not to have a soft spot for a guy who’s hated so passionately by the Huffington Post and David Frum alike, and perhaps some good might come from this man’s show. A uniformed FOX conservative might, for instance, watch Beck and become more skeptical of Woodrow Wilson and the Federal Reserve System…
In terms of American populism, Beck is, again, deeply harmful. The Tea Party movement began as a spontaneous outburst from average Americans against taxation and government expansion. Once Beck got his hands on it, he labeled it “The 9/12 Project,” evoking the “war on terror” good old days when average Americans were more happily conjoined with the federal government.
I think Glenn Beck is entirely sincere in his efforts to teach Americans (and himself) about their country, and he isn’t some kind of stooge or agent of the Power Elite, as the above paragraph might imply. Nevertheless, if Glenn Beck didn’t exist, the Establishment might have had to invent him. A controlled, circumscribed, and confused opposition is much better than no opposition at all. For if there were none, something sincere and dangerous might fill the void... Glenn Beck seems to have been put on this earth to ensure that the restless Middle American natives become excited about the most ridiculous and useless political issues possible.