POLITICS
03/28/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Glenn Beck Watch: Obama Speech Marks Return Of The Sliding Scale

Well, I don't think this is going to shock anyone: CNN's Glenn Beck was not a fan of Barack Obama's speech on race. Not enough repudiatin' of ol' Jeremiah Wright, I'm afraid! True, Obama may have re-condemned Wright's remarks, called Wright's statement and attitudes a "profound mistake," said he "absolutely" disagreed with them, and urged the black community to move past their grievances and "tak[e] full responsibility for own lives," but ask yourself: Did Obama burn Wright in effigy? Did he toilet paper Wright's house? Did he annul his marriage and unbaptize his daughters? Well, then: how can you take his rejection of Wright seriously, when it could have been much, much harder?

As with, say, Pat Buchanan, Obama really never had a shot at satisfying Glenn Beck. But that's not because Obama wasn't firm enough or mean enough. It's because he just wasn't conservative enough. And so Beck continues his recent struggle with intellectual consistency. Luckily for the non-brain dead demographic (none of whom likely had tuned in anyway...) there was someone on hand willing to call Beck out, NPR's John Ridley:

BECK: How do you possibly associate yourself in any way with someone who believes the government invented the AIDS virus to kill African-Americans?

JOHN RIDLEY, NPR/"ESQUIRE": Glenn, I can't defend that comment, and I wouldn't even try to defend that comment. But I don't know that you can make blanket statements about Pastor Wright or about Barack Obama for being there. I mean, look, Ronald Reagan said that AIDS was a judgment from God, and you didn't see Republicans abdicate him.

BECK: Good God almighty, John. You're not throwing -- you're not throwing a 1982 quote at the beginning of the AIDS virus. You're not throwing 1980s quote at me against the quote that has come in, in recent days, in recent times?

RIDLEY: You're asking me, Glenn, if people are going to judge somebody by his statements. So I'm talking about the president of the United States and you're talking about a guy who's still running for the job.

So no, I said, Glenn, I'm not going to defend that statement. I don't believe it. I'm not a person who's going to say "G-D America." But if you're talking about people abdicating individuals on statements, I mean, look, you want a more recent statement? Bill Bennett saying something like, "Do you want to think about how to cut down on crime? Abort all black babies."

Again, I don't think Bill Bennett is a horrible person. I think it's a matter of context.

BECK: It's absolutely unbelievable. It's unbelievable to me that people -- I mean, that quote on Bill Bennett has been used over and over again to destroy him, to destroy the man.

I'm not sure what part of this is less logical: that Reagan's dribbling nonsense is palatable now because two decades have passed, or that Bill Bennett deserves immunity because people have used his own statements to "destroy" him. What's clear is this: hateful rhetoric is fine and dandy, so long as it's uttered by a conservative.