Losing brain cells

Ten years ago I bought a book by Rush Limbaugh much to my wife’s annoyance. I got through a couple chapters of his mangled historical analysis before I gave up on the book before it cost me any more brain cells.

Rush hasn’t got a thing on his immatator Glenn Beck. Glenn, who pulled himself out of an alcoholic stupor to make something of himself gave the keynote address at the CPAC convention. They are the conservatives who love Dick Cheney and one-third of whom love Ron Paul.

George Packer who listened to Beck’s address – so we wouldn’t have to – gave a quick synopsis of some of Glenn’s historical analysis. I’m not sure Mr Beck really has given up the drink.

Beck puts on reading glasses, walks over to a blackboard that’s been wheeled onstage, and pretends to know things about American history that the educated people would keep from you. For example, the postwar recession of 1919-20 was worse than the Great Depression, which was only great “because of all the Progressive ideas to cure it.” He writes the word “Progressivism” on the blackboard. Progressivism is the main theme of his speech, the “cancer” that’s killing America, that has to be eradicated because it cannot coexist with the Constitution. Progressivism is Marxism and utopian Socialism. Did you know that Communists called themselves Progressives in the nineteen-thirties? To prove it, Beck reads from a 1938 Communist pamphlet that’s he’s just received from a fan, “Progress and Democracy in Rhode Island.” But the worst kind of Progressive was Woodrow Wilson. “I have to tell you, I hate Woodrow Wilson with everything in me” are Beck’s first words when he comes to the microphone. He holds Wilson responsible for the “progressive” income tax and for Hitler, who was created by the Versailles Treaty, which Wilson negotiated. And Wilson gave us Prohibition, which was the beginning of the campaign for health-care reform. Beck spreads his contempt around both parties, he hates T.R., too, whose Bull Moose Party was also called the Progressive Party (take that, McCain). Coolidge, though, was a great President, so great that Harding’s death must have been an act of God. Then came Hoover, another Progressive, who raised taxes and increased spending, which led to the Great Depression, which was not as great as Wilson’s.

You can read more from Mr. Packer and even listen to some of the speech at the New Yorker on line if you are willing to lose some brain cells.