Suppose you are a liberal, and here you are on Monday morning after the Beck Restoring Honor rally. What are you to think? What does it all mean?
You go read Ross Douthat in The New York Times and he isn't really that helpful. OK, he says, he underestimated Glenn Beck. But it's not really such a big deal:
Beck’s packed, three-hour jamboree was floated entirely on patriotism and piety, with no “get thee to a voting booth” message. It blessed a particular way of life without burdening that blessing with the compromises of a campaign, or the disillusioning work of governance. For a weekend, at least, Beck proved that he can conjure the thrill of a culture war without the costs of combat, and the solidarity of identity politics without any actual politics. If his influence outlasts the current election cycle, this will be the secret of his success.
OK. Here's a quickie analysis for liberals, so you chaps can figure it out.
Glenn Beck is selling girl conservatism.
Rush Limbaugh is selling boy conservatism.
That's it. That's all you need to know. Now go back to NPR. The rest of you, Stay tuned.
I once read a critic of Rush Limbaugh who lightly sneered at his "jaunty optimism." That's it, I thought! That's exactly the secret of Rush Limbaugh: his day in, day out, irrepressible jaunty optimism. It's a profoundly male thing, of course. When men are under stress, whether they are an army platoon in a tough spot or working in a business that is teetering on the edge of failure, the response is to maintain a front of jaunty optimism, to say to your brothers that things are looking up, we'll get through to the end of this, and then we'll lift our arms with a brewski.
Glenn Beck is different. He is all emotion, all twelve step recovery, all history lessons, all revival. This morning, I caught a couple of minutes of the Glenn Beck Radio Program, and it featured women calling in about Good Samaritan episodes that they experienced at the Restoring Honor Rally. Guess what: that's girl stuff.
So we have Rush Limbaugh servicing the boy side of conservatism, about "being the best you can be," about laughing in the face of adversity. We have Glenn Beck servicing the girl side of conservatism, dishing up morally uplifting stories, rolling his eyes and rolling out the blackboard for a lesson on conservatism. Women love that stuff.
So if I were a liberal, trotting off to my non-profit sinecure this morning with a vague feeling of unease, I'd realize that things were really a lot worse than I thought. Because conservatives now have a one-two punch communicating daily to the 40 percent of Americans that call themselves conservatives. Men and women.
P.S. How about that black woman at the rally that said: "I am not an African. I'm an American!... These people are my family."