Ichabod's Kin
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Bending It Like Beck

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    Not, “Bend it like Beckham,” a film of both drama and good humor about a dude, David Beckham by name, and his skill at free-kicks that curve, or bend, past walls of soccer defenders.

    This is about Glenn Beck, he of rapidly receding fame while his infamy grows. Beck is good at bending the truth, and mayhap you have stumbled onto his Fox channel gig and been regaled by his intellectual sleight of hand.

  Like demagogues since the world began, Beck garnered much attention before his eventual comeuppance, this one akin to a train wreck in slow motion before viewers turn away to other entertainments. His audiences call to mind old Western flicks of gawking crowds assembled before a hanging: when the hapless body fell through the trap door, the mob split apace, hoping their presence might be unrecognized, and later be able to deny having been there at all.

    Others at Fox News have long resented their self-centered compatriot hogging all the glory, but his ratings last January’s ratings showed a collapse of 40% in one year, along with nearly half of his prime demographic of 25-54 year olds. Ouch. And so soon after his famed puppet show on the Washington Mall where the crowd dangled like marionettes at, well, his “Beck” and call.

    Did you laugh or cry when he notified his distraught audience that he would soon depart Fox and turn to other means, supposedly, to save the world? The event was expertly parodied by comic Jon Stewart, who skillfully aped every overwrought mannerism and manipulative nuance of Beck’s typical evening fare, replete with chalk boards burdened with scrawl. When I get letters without margins, I know I’m dealing with people who are too many bricks shy of a load.

    Beck surrounds himself with graphics and depictions of many great Americans of the past, as if the discerning among us will believe that he belongs in their camp, or that they would even approve. He doesn’t know that many of them were deists, liberals and no few a tad horny. But nothing is too obvious for him not to try to explain away.

    Beck’s show falls at best into the category of the egregious: something you can’t keep from watching because it’s so ridiculous. Here’s a guy whose backdrop is a huge “GB” logo.  After all, he’s special, he’s his own brand, and he wants us to listen not to experts, but to him. God help us all if we did.

    It may come as a surprise that other conservative minds are more discriminating, like “Morning Joe” Scarborough, who said Beck’s bag of bluster was bad for the GOP, not to mention for Fox News. Former Bush speech-writer Peter Wehner dubbed Glenn “the most disturbing personality on Cable TV,” for his conspiracies and for portraying himself as “the great decoder of events” that create fear, hopelessness and helplessness.

    Jennifer Robins, a right-of-center columnist for the Washington Post, said conservatives should “call him out” and explain that Beck doesn’t represent the views of their mainstream candidates.

    Would that such omens fell on the ears of a local shrink in my selfsame little Massachusetts burg, by name of Dr. Keith Ablow. He co-authored a book with Beck that gets the prize for bad timing in that it coincides with Glenn’s fall from grace. This was not another Oprah-and-Dr. Phil team-up: Oprah did not need Dr. Phil, he needed her.

    There are countless mental health pros out there with a gift of gab and a flair for the dramatic: Phil just got the luck of the draw and the rest is his very profitable history.

    In this case, a shrink was needed to certify Beck as non-loony: how can he be nuts if some psychiatrist thinks he’s a model of humanity? I doubt many Good Doctors would do so. Of course, Keith Ablow is a Fox commentator, and hardly a neutral one: just another Republican but with a “virtual” evaluation of Americans’ feelings towards their president, most of whom he considers “in denial” about Obama. As you may guess, his thoughts are really more political than psychological, and the prez is thoroughly psychoanalyzed from afar, namely from Ablow’s esteemed couch in Newburyport.

    Curiously, Ablow sees Charlie Sheen as showing psychiatric symptoms of grandiosity and false beliefs, possibly bipolar, while Beck’s goofiness is given approval in an entire book, and one that is self-serving for both authors. The two believe, by the way, that it was God’s plan for them to meet, speak and come up with “Seven Wonders.”

    One of them is Beck.

    Another is why Ablow even bothered with him.

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