On last Friday's RealTime, host Bill Maher referred to Glenn Beck's plummeting ratings and asked if America's fever had finally broken. It's a wonderful thought, a mass repudiation of the radical rightwing excess (also known as Fox News), but I wasn't convinced.
But I came to think that maybe, just maybe, Maher is on to something. Maybe the American people are coming to their senses. That came through in reading Bill Kristol's column in The Weekly Standard in which he took rightwing nutjob Glenn Beck to the woodshed:
...hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.
Nor is it a sign of health when other American conservatives are so fearful of a popular awakening that they side with the dictator against the democrats. Rather, it’s a sign of fearfulness unworthy of Americans, of short-sightedness uncharacteristic of conservatives, of excuse-making for thuggery unworthy of the American conservative tradition.
It was not so long ago, after all, when conservatives understood that Middle Eastern dictatorships such as Mubarak’s help spawn global terrorism. We needn’t remind our readers that the most famous of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, was an Egyptian, as is al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al Zawahiri. The idea that democracy produces radical Islam is false: Whether in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories, or Egypt, it is the dictatorships that have promoted and abetted Islamic radicalism. (Hamas, lest we forget, established its tyranny in Gaza through nondemocratic means.) Nor is it in any way “realist” to suggest that backing Mubarak during this crisis would promote “stability.” To the contrary: The situation is growing more unstable because of Mubarak’s unwillingness to abdicate. Helping him cling to power now would only pour fuel on the revolutionary fire, and push the Egyptian people in a more anti-American direction.
Wow, can it be? Have we finally found something that the rational right and the progressive left can agree on? Is the rational right ready to wash its hands of the stench of radicalism it has embraced so warmly in recent years? We must live in hope.