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Ron Radosh Brings His Calm, Even-handed Erudition to the Frum/Horowitz/Beck Debate

September 21, 2009


I stumbled across a joyous surprise this afternoon. Historian Ron Radosh has a must-read post about the debate within the Conservative Movement about Glenn Beck.

Radosh injects a much-needed historical perspective into the discussion and provides an example for how intellectual conservatives should work to keep Beck from straying too far:

Indeed, I would agree that Beck does often go over the top. Wehner is correct that Beck throws out words like American imperialism, and last week I heard him complain about how America became an Empire. He does not seem to comprehend that many of these assertions are those of the Left and men like Van Jones, whose job in the administration he rightfully fought against because of Jones’ Communist views. No one seems to have told Beck this or stopped to correct him.

I have my own tiff with him. In the chart he put on this famous blackboard on Friday, he put Woodrow Wilson at the bottom as the centerpiece and creator of the radical statist or socialist country that he fears America is becoming.  He rattled on about the number of political prisoners Wilson had in jail, and the war he brought the nation into. Now I realize Beck gets his view of Wilson from a chapter in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, but aside from this, I doubt whether Beck has read anything else about Wilson. If he had, he might have realized that Wilson was an opponent not only of the Bolshevik regime in Russia, but of America’s domestic radicals at home. The people Wilson thought of as dangerous to America were the counterparts of those Beck is fighting today. Yes, Wilson violated civil liberties, and used the Espionage and Sedition Act of 1918 to imprison dissenters- including my own cousin, who became the subject of a major Supreme Court case, Abrams v. United States.

He was even kind enough to link to and discuss my recent post on the Time Magazine story:

Yet, as David Swindle points out in his piece on the article, the left-wing Media Matters condemns the article as a pro-Beck puff job, while the conservative News Busters site regards it as a generally fair assessment. Swindle himself argues the unfairness of equating Beck with the fringe Right long ago expelled from the ranks of conservatism by William F. Buckley Jr., but he does praise the magazine for admitting that some times, Beck gets it right.

Be sure and read all of Radosh’s post. He has an absolutely fantastic conclusion which I wholeheartedly endorse. (I made a similar argument in my Conservative Chessboard essay earlier in the debate.) Radosh’s contribution to the discussion is yet another reminder to read his memoir if you have not already and make his blog one of your regular reads.

  1. Eric Kirk permalink
    September 21, 2009 9:06 pm

    It’s not that Beck “goes over the top.” Screaming at a caller at the top of his lungs is something you maybe expect from a spoiled 12 year old. I think he’s making a fortune off of an emotional disability, which is fine. This is America, right?

  2. Julie permalink
    September 22, 2009 4:56 am

    “Now I realize Beck gets his view of Wilson from a chapter in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, but aside from this, I doubt whether Beck has read anything else about Wilson”

    Obviously the historian doesn’t listen to Beck. Glenn has read a great deal about Wilson. Far more than the average historian evidently. Why are you all attacking the ONE guy who is waking people up? All the wonderful, conservative, eye opening books were just that but we live, unfortunately, in a culture of non-readers for the most part. Glenn’s TV show has gotten their attention, and is getting results. Is he a perfect person? Is ANYONE out there?

    • Julie Trevor permalink
      September 22, 2009 7:11 am

      Julie, Hey…welcome!
      Please read the conclusion of Rodosh’s post, I think you’d agree.

      • In the know permalink
        September 22, 2009 7:19 am


        I agree with you. It’s sad that common sense is so lost in this world that a comment like that has to be made. It used to be implied.

  3. September 22, 2009 5:05 am

    Beck may be over the top on some issues, but I believe that it his presentation that gives that impression more than his information. As for not know enough about Wilson. I happen to know a great deal about Wilson and even though he may have been against the persons outlined, it doesn’t alter the fact that Wilson gave intellectual impetus to the Progressive movement which was a movement in favor of statism. The fact that he had differences with those who eventually took over the Progressive movement doesn’t alter that fact that they both were statist movements whose goal was to make the state the ultimate moral authority in everyone’s life. I have read some of Mr. Radosh’s work in the past and this is no better.

  4. Prudent Man, CFA permalink
    September 22, 2009 7:04 am

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    I watch Beck when he has an interesting guest or two. Personally, he aggravates me with his sophomoric grandstanding. But, he gets the job done.

    When I look at the listing of TV shows I get an ideal of the intellectual depth and concentration of viewer, which is very weak on both counts. With that in mind Beck reaches an audience that has never thought of ideological politics and that in itself make his useful to conservatives. Those, like myself who have been conservatives for over a half-a-century, can be turned of but the instant gratification set are getting introduced to objective and rational political thought delivered in a pedestrian message.

    Beck has already proven that he is a positive and, like Rush and Hannity, delivers it the way many people want. When those we oppose use the wealth of George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the Federal Treasury, Hollywood, minions of ACORN and the free advertising of the major network media, I will take all of the help I can get. I can live with a few mistakes while we are being inundated with lies, misinformation and fabrications from the BHO Administration.

  5. Prudent Man, CFA permalink
    September 22, 2009 7:06 am

    Apologize for the misspelling and poor editing.

  6. Bob Schwalbaum permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:01 am

    The only commentator I ever saw with whom I agreed 100% was Brit Hume on Fox News.. and they “pulled” him.

    Of course Beck makes mistakes.. but he is RIGHT at least 95% of the time.

    Good enough for me.

    Barack Obama scares me as no other President has.. not even “Jimmy Boy”

  7. Bob permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:31 am

    Glenn Beck is working for the Port Side.
    His job is to split the Republican Party (with Paulians?) and give the Democrats their only chance for a clear win.

    • September 22, 2009 10:47 am

      Actually it was David Frum that dragged Paul into this discussion.

  8. Patrick M Gohl permalink
    September 22, 2009 12:06 pm

    Le us not forget Why there is such interest and outrage like never before against the Left.beck has been after these stories fo a coyuple years and for some Conservatives to turn their backs on him would be a shame. You are all in the Limelight because of his mistakes and alot of you show up daily on his radio and TV shows. A little humility would go miles !

  9. September 22, 2009 12:16 pm

    for a poorly educated older person-I can relate to Glenn Beck. Yes he admits to being self educated-its all right with me. The books he has recomended(many written by David Horowitz) opened my eyes. Its all very well to chastize him, get over it, he appeals to the average person. Yes he gets over emotional, I”ll take that over the cold overly educated person(usualy from Yale or Harvard and therfore poisened. Its the every day yahoo-who fights your wars, grows your food and pays the taxes they are the ones who will save your bacon.

  10. Keith permalink
    September 22, 2009 3:00 pm

    That’s why i don’t believe everything on mainstream media, It’s always better to research information yourself, because they could easily lead you astray.

    • jbtrevor permalink
      September 22, 2009 3:09 pm

      Not easily any more!!! LOL

  11. Soylent Green permalink
    September 22, 2009 7:14 pm

    Good grief!!! I am so disgusted with namby pamby ‘conservatives’ wanting the approval of leftists!! Get some cajones! When the last time you saw Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer wringing their hands over something someone on MSNBC said and worried that it was ‘over the top’?

    • jbtrevor permalink
      September 22, 2009 7:22 pm

      Soylent Green,
      The discussion is not about the Left…it’s about people in the conservative ranks (Frum) going after other conservatives (Beck) and others opining on the rift (Horowitz, Rodosh, Swindle)- suggest re-reading the article and links to the continued discussion

  12. Soylent Green permalink
    September 22, 2009 7:41 pm

    Dear Moderator,

    Thank you. What I was complaining about was exactly that. The same ‘conservatives’ that worry that CNN thinks Glenn Beck and Rush Limdbaugh are excessive, are the same ones that are trying to marginalize Sarah Palin as being a right wing nut case. With people like these on ‘our’ side, we might as well run John McCain for president again.


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