webermpolarisnet 31 Aug 2010 Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally seems to have been quite the success, drawing a crowd in the hundreds of thousands by most reckonings. "In other Washington rally news," observes humorist Jim Treacher of The Daily Caller, "Al Sharpton has gone from the Million Man March to the Dozen Dude Dud." It was billed as an apolitical event, yet it was a political event, a puzzle for the New York Times's Ross Douthat: The most striking thing about "Restoring Honor" was the way the pageant effortlessly tapped into the same rich vein of identity politics that has given us figures as diverse as Palin and Howard Dean, George W. Bush and Barack Obama--but did so, somehow, without advancing any explicitly political agenda. . . . In a sense, Beck's "Restoring Honor" was like an Obama rally through the looking glass. It was a long festival of affirmation for middle-class white Christians--square, earnest, patriotic and religious. If a speaker had suddenly burst out with an Obama-esque "we are the ones we've been waiting for," the message would have fit right in. But whereas Obama wouldn't have been Obama if he weren't running for president, Beck's packed, three-hour jamboree was floated entirely on patriotism and piety, with no "get thee to a voting booth" message. Watching news coverage of Saturday's uplifting, pietistic speeches reminded us, too, of the prepresidential Obama--not the Obama of 2008 and the bizarre personality cult, but the Obama of 2004, who in his Democratic National Convention speech urged listeners to rise above identity politics. Douthat makes one serious error. True, the Beck rally was about "identity politics." But the identity being celebrated was not that of "middle-class white Christians," even if many of the attendees can be stuffed into that pigeonhole, but of _Americans_. The message resonated, and had political content, because, as we argued Friday, the country is currently governed by an oikophobic self-anointed elite that is unable to hide its contempt for Americans qua Americans. That was clear in much of the news coverage. NewsBusters.org catches ABC News's Christiane Amanpour trying to explain it all: it was about--as speaker after speaker kept saying--restoring patriotism and proud-to-be-an-American. I point that out because I think that is what gets such a big cheer from people. And perhaps when we try to figure out why there's such a huge number of people coming to these rallies, in a period of time when people feel such anxiety, such anger, such sort of worry about what's going on around them--the economy and the rest--they come here and they hear a feel-good message, and that they respond to. As NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein observes, "Sounds like Amanpour sees religion and patriotism as . . . the opiate of the masses." Yep, Marxism Lite. If there was a media conspiracy to discredit the rally--and we don't think there was, but after Journolist, who can be sure?--the chief tactic was to cast patriotism as racialism, if not racism. "Overwhelmingly white" was the buzz word of the day--as if that is anything unusual in a nation whose population is 79.6% white. Our favorite example of the media's attempts to play the race card, though, came from the "CBS Evening News" and again was caught by NewsBusters: Nancy Cordes: Beck, who is a converted Mormon, likes to call himself a clown, but today he played the role of ring-master, preaching racial tolerance to the nearly all-white crowd. A change in tone from the Fox News host who notoriously called President Obama-- Beck: --a racist. This is followed by footage of Cordes at the rally, where she finds two black women and informs them: "I'm noticing that there aren't a lot of minorities here today." (And at these prices . . .) Cordes's characterization of Beck's statement is astonishing. Beck has said he shouldn't have called the president a racist, and we agree. Making baseless charges of racism against political opponents is a low tactic. But liberals do it all the time, and we are supposed to believe that proves how tolerant they are. Now we learn that conservative's doing exactly the same thing is evidence of his intolerance. Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly, a liberal-left magazine, proclaims himself "confused" by the rally: "I still haven't the foggiest idea what these folks actually want." Is he really this clueless, or is this just a pose? He considers various possibilities and then shoots them down, beginning with this: _This is about "freedom."_ Well, I'm certainly pro-freedom, and as far as I can tell, the anti-freedom crowd struggles to win votes on Election Day. But can they be a little more specific? How about the freedom for same-sex couples to get married? No, we're told, not _that_ kind of freedom. It's all in this vein. They can't be for American liberties, because they are offended by the Ground Zero mosque. They can't be for opportunity, because they oppose ObamaCare. They can't be for "the values of the Founding Fathers," because they lack a "steadfast commitment to the separation of church and state." They can't be for sacrifice, because they oppose the Bush tax increase. They can't be for truth, because they do not accept doctrinal liberal positions on global warming, ObamaCare, Social Security and judicial philosophy. "The folks who gathered in D.C. today were awfully excited about something," Benen concludes. "The fact that it's not altogether obvious what that might be probably isn't a good sign." Not a good sign for Benen, we'd say, because it shows him to be so doctrinaire and intellectually lazy that he cannot even conceive of a reasoned point of view that differs from his own, whether over a longstanding philosophical question like the role of the judiciary or a transitory controversy like the Ground Zero mosque. Increasingly, it seems that "Heads I win, tails you lose" is the creed of the contemporary liberal.