Glenn Beck has two distinct modes. The first is the Beck that enjoys nothing more than expounding upon, in divisive terms, all the Americans that just aren't American enough for him. He sees their homes burning, considers his ancient grudges, and it gets him all jacked up. But, when necessity calls, there emerges, in vivid contrast, another side to Glenn Beck, in which he magnanimously declaims about how everyone is great and how he he has no beef with anyone and how we're all one great happy nation.
What is it that brings out the kid gloves? In a word, vulnerability. When Beck needs to sit in and play a part in the shilling of his book, he's all tender and complimentary. In those cases, CNN's "Planet In Peril" special is, of course, awesome, and Anderson Cooper is a titan whose glutes need to be carefully gummed. Yesterday, that side of Beck emerged again, and it's no coincidence that the occasion was that of a fellow Mormon adherent, suddenly vulnerable, who felt the need to peddle his mushy notions on "faith in America" in order to boost his campaign. With that as backdrop, the charitable, ecumenical Beck arrived on the scene:
We need to learn from each other. I'm not here to defend my faith. I'm not hear to defend Romney's faith. I'm not here to defend your faith or tear it apart or anything else. A person's relationship with their God is a deeply personal thing and we need to respect that. We need to respect that in every man, woman and child. We need to respect that in every man that wants to be President.
"We need to learn from each other." Coming from Glenn Beck. In a word, oy. But he's all about laying this schtick on thick, criticizing "small-mindedness"--irony, much?--and even offering an "Amen, brother" to JFK. Of course, good-guy Beck can't keep bad-guy Beck entirely at bay:
How can it be, how can it be that we can be so different? Well, it's pretty easy. God made us all different, and we all find different things. It is in the honest seeking of answers. Unfortunately with everybody's religion, too many people's religion, you get a pack of lies.
Nevertheless, his defense of Romney requires him to submerge his natural tendencies in favor of a "we're all in this together" vibe: "Good heavens. Shucks! We're America. We're the United States of America and somehow or another we have allowed ourselves once again to be convinced that we can't fix the problems! We can fix the problems! But not by being small minded."
As usual though, Glenn Beck's paramount concern is himself, and he thus pleads, "Isn't the fact that you agree with me on a lot of stuff enough proof that I'm not a weirdo cult member?"
No. Just a depressingly effective one.