Inside the Mind of Glenn Beck
The conservative commentator's attack on President Obama's oldest daughter was inexcusable, but it's the other stuff in his rant that is revealing.
Many supporters of Obama complain that right-wing criticism of the president often has a nasty tone that suggests a racial element. It is probably impossible to gauge nastiness, because, in my opinion, the media have reset the game by being generally far more aggressive in dissecting Obama than Bush 43. George W. Bush was regularly brought to task by liberal commentators, but much of the criticism suggested he wasn't too smart or not very much interested in the job. Both charges may have been true, but very little commentary suggested that W didn't have good intentions. After Katrina, the question of his competence became part of the mainstream dialogue, at least for a while. But few critics, even from the left, suggested he was not committed to keeping Americans safe, although they often conceded that he wasn't very good at it.
Obama doesn't get that benefit of the doubt from the right. By contrast, one persistent theme of right-wing attacks on Obama, illustrated in the Beck skit, is that he is up to something evil and "un-American." In the right-wing universe, there's always a cloud of evil intent or illegality lurking beneath the surface of the Obama administration--whether the topic is health care, immigration or the oil spill, they have a problem with him and his "Chicago thugs." Apparently, he does not want to solve the country's economic problems, guarantee its security or get the Gulf oil leak stopped.
This is where Beck's imagined Obama puppeteers come in. The problem for Beck is not that the president is black--not in the current "post-racial" world--but that he's possessed by demons from the left intent on harming America. Or worse, Obama is just an empty suit, controlled by the vast left-wing conspiracy that includes people like the billionaire Marxist Soros, the socialist Podesta and other abortion-supporting, soft-on-immigration, affirmative-action demons. Based on Beck's beliefs, the president either needs an exorcist or someone to cut his puppet strings.
Joel Dreyfuss is managing editor of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.