Books I Couldn’t Finish

Rick Lax

Glenn Beck is great on TV; he shouts, he scoffs, and he cries. But when he writes, when his words are stripped clean of the paint-by-numbers, manufactured emotion that television facilitates, one thing becomes clear: The man has absolutely nothing of consequence to say.

Beck uses every trick in the book to cover this up. He uses more exclamation points than a teenage girl with unlimited texts (e.g., “Open your eyes!” “They’re not rescuing our country; they’re destroying it!”), and more capital letters than a teenage boy writing his first quasi-communist manifesto (e.g., “HISTORY DEMANDS A CLEAR ANSWER.”) But try as he might, Beck can’t turn a paperback book into a flat-screen TV.

The Details

Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government Glenn Beck
Threshold Editions, $12.

Here’s a good example of the type of sentence that might fly on The Glenn Beck Program, but doesn’t hold water in Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Governmen: “The result of preventing failure in a country rooted in freedom is a country that is no longer rooted in logic.” That sentence would make my undergrad philosophy professor vomit in his mouth. Does Beck actually believe that preventing failure—in all cases, Glenn?—would somehow disengage America from the laws of Boolean logic? Of course not; to paraphrase a Mr. Show sketch, Glenn Beck doesn’t understand what words mean. Or maybe he just doesn’t care.

Beck’s multiple attempts at cold reading are laughable. They’re either comically general (“You have strong beliefs, but you also have an open mind and warm heart”) or comically inaccurate (“You have a home, but with a loan you can afford … You consistently hope that your kids don’t notice you’re bluffing as a parent most of the time”). Wrong on all accounts, Glenn. No home, no loan and no kids—and if I did have kids, I’d respect them for reading my bluffs.

I read through 62 of 192 pages of Beck’s new book, but common sense told me I should stop there.


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