Beck Challenges Tea Party Over Gingrich, Race

Is it about Obama's Race?

In case you missed it, Glenn Beck appeared on FBN’s Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napolitano and had some provocative things to say about Newt Gingrich.  Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com has the story on what Beck had to say to the Tea Party with respect to their potential support of Gingrich.  Beck asked the following question of Tea Party folk who support Newt: “Ask yourselves this, Tea Party: Is it about Obama’s race? Because that’s what it appears to be to me.”  Now, while this is going to require some background context, what you should understand is that Beck is making a point, but I think he chose the wrong way to make it.

Beck’s known for his bombastic remarks and challenges, and it’s fair to say that this is his stock in trade, but let’s give the man his due, because he is making an important point about Newt.  His allegation is that in interviewing Gingrich, he decided that Gingrich is a Republican Progressive after Gingrich referred to Teddy Roosevelt as his favorite President.  When Beck challenged Gingrich on this, Gingrich backed away a little, qualifying his statement by saying that he liked Roosevelt before his Osawatomie, KS speech in which he came out as a full-blown progressive.  Here’s the real problem with that, and to his credit, Beck picks up on it: Theodore Roosevelt was ever a progressive.  He merely came out as a progressive, basically a socialist, in that speech. What Beck contends is that he cannot support Newt Gingrich because he is like Roosevelt before that famous speech.  On this point, Beck makes perfect fence, but like so many other instances, this is also where he “jumps the shark.”

In speaking with Napolitano on Freedom Watch, Beck explains his view on Gingrich, but then takes it that next step: He challenges the Tea Party by asking: “Is it about Obama’s race?”  Here’s what Beck is really asking:  Since Obama is a leftist Democrat progressive, and Gingrich is a Republican progressive, both are nevertheless progressives, a.k.a. “socialists,” so if the Tea Party will support one, but won’t support the other, what is the real difference upon which that support turns?  Here is where Beck wrongly plays the race card against the Tea Party.  He offers that it must be about Obama’s race.  While I understand the point he is trying to make, I think he could have made it without dragging the race card into this.  There are other simpler, more plausible reasons than race for this seeming contradiction on the part of Tea Party members who support Gingrich, but not Obama, and in order to help Beck, I’ve made a list of them:

  • Gingrich is a Republican; Obama is a Democrat: While Beck can gloss over this difference as insignificant, and in some ways he’d be right, the truth is that the people who he is challenging don’t see the difference as entirely meaningless. They have some perhaps reasonable expectation that there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats.
  • Gingrich is smarter than Obama:  Many, in the Tea Party and otherwise, see Gingrich as a more thoughtful fellow, and if faced with a choice, would rather have the smarter of the two.
  • Gingrich and Romney appear to be leading: Both men are progressives, and of the two, Gingrich is at least willing to talk to the Tea Party and reach out to them. Tea Party and conservative folk are likely making a judgment about the reality they see developing, and responding accordingly.

These are only three of a whole range of reasons you would naturally come to long before you get to some cock-eyed notion about Obama’s race, as Beck has managed to do.  I think it is folly on Beck’s part to try to play this angle on the Tea Party patriots, and rather than trying to make a point by suggesting that supporting Newt Gingrich is some sort of back-handed admission of racism on the part of those conservatives who are supporting Gingrich, he ought to instead try to educate them about the history of progressives without insulting the motives of Tea Party conservatives, or giving leftists a video clip they will later use to assail the Tea Party.

Beck’s basic point is sound: Gingrich is a progressive, and always has been, but if he’s a progressive, why should Tea Party and conservative folk support him any more than they would support Barack Obama?  One could make this same argument about Romney, and it would fit just as well.  What Beck should have done is use the moment to explain his meaning, rather than throw down the race card.  He would have served his audience and the debate in a more positive way, and we wouldn’t now have this additional distraction from the cause for which we begin now to gather: To select the candidate who will face Obama next November.  Challenging the Tea Party by suggesting their choice of Newt Gingrich is evidence of racism is simply deplorable.  I understand what he was trying to say, but I think he could have found another device for demonstrating his point.  The race card is over-used in American politics, and to see Beck making this argument was disappointing.

You can watch the video here.

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  • http://gravatar.com/bellez8 bellez8

    One huge difference YOU FAIL to mention..Newt grew up in LOVE AMERICA military family..Obama grew up in card carrying Communist Hate America household. You fail to mention though Newt strayed on his wife Obama strayed on Godf with Rev Wright-his gay lovers..So if your gonna compare at least do it honestly..fully..Beck degraded Palin 3yrs the True Reformer who stayed faithful to her hubby & Country..so he has No business crying FOUL NOW

  • Laurie

    I'm not sure what qualifies Newt as a progressive right now. I am for some ideas that someone might consider progressive,,such as legalization of marijuana and a few other things. But I am so not a progressive. What is the criteria I always wonder. It bothers me at times that Beck needs to label people as progressives and socialists. I agree with some social programs,,does that make me one?? It takes alot of certain beliefs for me to believe someone is 100 percent a progressive and/or socialist. Great read Mark.

    • mary

      Of course we are Americans and are empathetic. For God sake, we're not Russia. Socialism is what England has. Example-very small refrigerators, overregulation of everything, barely any businesses and lousy healthcare.You must have a license to own a tv in England! Is THAT what you want? As Margaret Thatcher said, "Socialism is microwave Communism". We are feeding public school children in the U.S. 3 meals a day. Why? They cry about the kids being obese and then they bankrupt us with programs like this to make us "feel good". Capitalism has created more wealth and is the most compassionate system of all! I implore you to join a 912 group or to get onto sights such as the Heritage Foundation in order to educate yourself. A government big enought to give you everything is big enough to take it all away. Lastly, look at Santorum! What a super good guy, family man and has fought and won as a Senator in even a liberal state!

  • http://twitter.com/BDWatcher bdwatcher (@BDWatche

    Though Beck does have some good ideas and sound judgements, I agree here. He derailed his theme of restoring honor. The Tea Party is not racist at all and using this as a reason to reconsider Gingrich is way off the mark. I have no idea why he did this.

    Like all of the voters, I look at each, not only their history, their values and past voting, but I look today at the beating of Obama. We must vote him out of office before he completes his "transformation of the fundamentals of the US" I do see Gingrich beating him. Also, Newt's tremendous ego (IMO), he is taking the opportunity to be a hero, bring the constitution back to the forefront, with statues, books and much admiration. I believe he wants to be remembered as Reagan is remembered as a great president. In this, I believe he is the right man for this election. A man's ego can take him down or make him better. It seems he is thinking the right direction for the US.

    • SeanStLouis

      Did you say Newt is bringing the constitution back to the forefront?

      Where are you getting your information, bdwatcher…from Newt's website?

  • http://twitter.com/politiJim PolitiJim (@politiJi

    Mark I was just studying this this morning and unfortunately much of what Beck (and now you) are saying simply isn't true.

    A progressive is a socialist. Teddy adamantly shunned the socialist party of his time although it is fair to wonder whether that was a political calculation or belief. And certainly, Gingrich is right that Theodore did not commence into Medicare, and progressive systems until AFTER his Whatchamacalit speech.

    I will be posting a bit more on the "progression" of Roosevelt in my blog at PolitiJim.com later – but Teddy had the typical Edward Kennedy syndrome of "Rich Guilt" that he felt made him out of touch with the common man, and fell into progressive ideas to absolve that. Gingrich has no such background.

    If we judge Obama by the Marxists he keeps – we also should look at Newt's. A long time partner with the Heritage Foundation, he also lectures at Cato, the Reagan Library, and Faith and Freedom. Hardly a bastian of liberal ideas.

    Most important is to look at Newt's history of voting as Beck asked. What you find is one of the top 10% of voting conservatives from the Reagan era on. So be reasonable and logical and ask yourself – could a PROGRESSIVE have voted for this:

    Voted YES on the Reagan tax cut of 1981
    Voted YES on the Reagan tax reform bill of 1986
    Voted NO on the George H.W. Bush "Read My Lips" tax hike in 1990.
    Voted NO on the Clinton tax hike in 1993.
    Voted YES on the capital gains tax cut in 1997.
    Voted NO on the Chrysler bailout in 1979
    Voted YES on the Gramm-Rudman balanced budget bill in 1985
    Voted YES on a balanced budget amendment (as part of the "Contract for America" effort that he led) in 1995
    Led the effort and voted YES to cut $16.4 billion from the budget in 1995.
    Voted YES on welfare reform in 1996

    • http://www.markamerica.com MarkAmerica

      Jim, I can go through the voting records of any of the long-serving candidates and pull out inconsistencies. The truth of TR is that he was already a big[ger] government guy when he served as President. Ever hear of the FDA? Sure. Whose baby was that? It was Teddy Roosevelt's. Newt even alluded to that fact in the interview with Beck. Like all such programs, they quickly grow out of all bounds because that is the nature of statism. Teddy Roosevelt certainly suffered the notion of "rich guilt" which is shared primarily by…liberals.

      I'm not going to suggest to you that Gingrich is exactly equal to Obama, but he does have a bit of that statist/progressive reflex. Let's look at your list and ask that question you pose: Could a progressive have voted for these?

      Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981: Could not have been passed in either house without progressives(Democrats) support
      TEFRA(Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act) 1986: Ditto
      Bush Tax Hike, 1990: No brainer
      Clinton Tax Hike: Ditto – many Democrats voted against it
      Capital Gains Tax Cut 1997: Many progressives favor
      Chrysler Bail-out:
      Gramm-Rudman-Hollings 1985: Only the biggest liberals in either party voted against: House 271-154 and the Senate 61-31(Notable the house was controlled by Dems)
      BBA in 1995: Several progressives voted for the BBA
      1995: A WHOLE 16.4 billion?
      Welfare reform by a progressive president?

      Taken in isolation, one might well conclude Newt is no progressive on the basis of these, but I could just as easily flip it and list things for which he also voted that prove otherwise. For instance, where was Newt on the amnesty bill that passed in 1986? We like to point out that Reagan got snowed on that one, but then part of who snowed Reagan on this one was the number of his fellow Republicans who insisted the bill would be good for the country. Ahem.

      We can go on like this all day, and we can point to his earlier (and lately recanted) desire to see the healthcare mandate. We can talk about his re-conversion on global warming. There are any number of issues like this on which Newt can rightly be called to account. Understand, however, that it's not about a particular issue, as you suggest, but instead about the totality of his positions and votes over his entire career. Newt may not be as progressive as Romney, in some respects, or perhaps moreso in others, but to pretend that Newt is a thorough conservative in the sense of a Bachmann or Santorum is a bit disingenuous, I believe.

      As I said, I'm not endorsing anybody. I really don't have a horse on which to ride into this battle, so I'm going on foot. In any event, the point of my article was to challenge Beck's use of the "race card" to make the point. I think we can talk about Newt's record forthrightly without making an appeal on that basis, whether we would support him or not.

      Thanks for your continuing input, Jim!

      Mark

      • Tracy

        Be careful, Mark. You said the "horse" word again. :)

    • mary

      Frankly the man was has been in politics for many years. Those votes are very small beans compared to his Progressive ideas. You can be a closet Progressive in the public eyes until one peeks under the tent so to speak.

  • Pat Cashman

    Here is where Beck gives me agida. He is brutally honest and so he says things that make you turn him off. The point is, how many tea partiers are going to understand that he did NOT call them racists? That he was making a point to make them understand that a progressive is a progressive, regardless of race, or political divide. The guy has been speaking about this for years, yet we see so many deny the fact that the progressives have infiltrated the GOP a long time ago. Newt, Mitt, Perry? There is no difference. We need someone who can rid the GOP of progressives once and for all.

    • Tracy

      Good point, Pat. The light bulb went on in my head after reading your response. I was surprised to hear Beck use the race card. He never goes there. What is the reason that Tea Party people would pick Gingrich over Obama when they are one and the same? Gingrich would just not have caused as much damage so fast. Now, I myself don't believe that it is race. I think the real reason is the belief that "let's just get Obama out." is going to make things all better. The idea that Gingrich is going to make things better or that things just won't be as bad is ludicrous. The idea of settling is destructive. Tell me what do we do, though. When we cannot ourselves choose the candidate we have no control who runs the country. I also don't want to hear from anyone anymore that we need to vote people out. We have no more time for elections. If Gingrich just by some miracle gets elected there will be 4 more years, just like Obama. The only difference is it will be a longer, drawn out torture.

  • Pat Cashman

    I forgot to add, it is ok to vote for Newt. But know that you are electing a progressive, big goverbment, esrtablishment republican. That's all.

  • http://blissfield.wordpress.com Robin

    Good stuff, thanks for the article Mark. Pat Cashman, I agree.

  • http://gravatar.com/delicountessa delicountessa

    How DARE he? He just played right into the Liberal hands and he damn well knows it. I hope he is relegated to the bowels of obscurity where he belongs. First he allows that so-called "comedian" to use the liberal meme "Sarah Palin is stupid" and now this? That's pretty much the final straw. I'm done with him.

  • http://gravatar.com/rachelandcarmalita Robert Woods`

    Who is on first. I give. The party of Lincoln hasn't got a prayer. They are doing a better job tearing each other apart than the Dem's ever could. They are all torn apart. There has never been more disagreement among fewer people in history. They couldn't decide on weather to hit or stand on a 20 with the dealer holding 15.
    Start ,alomg plans for the Obama Inauguration balls now. Too bad, never has there been a b better time for a cohesive posture than now.
    I wonder who will take the blame. Probably Bachman, a woman should never have entered the fray.
    Bob

  • http://twitter.com/politiJim PolitiJim (@politiJi

    Here you go – complete analysis of the Beck controversy and who Teddy Roosevelt really was.

    Newt is no progressive – by any measure
    http://www.politijim.com/2011/12/is-newt-fat-whit

  • bellagrazi

    Beck is a flippin' loon! Sarah Palin needs to set him straight on this.

    • paul singer

      Beck,, where's our savior ..only Sarah can save us now .. break loose some of your gold and start backing her before its too late

  • mytorpor

    Beck is trying to remain relevant and in the public eye, his inflamatory statements are not accidents.
    Sarah Palin chose not to run and that leaves voters with no best choice, so we must chose the best of what we have. For me, that is Newt. He is far from perfect, but he has experience, intellect, leadership ability and he certainly is not afraid to speak his mind. I do not have to agree with my candidate on every issue as long as I know what he actually stands for! I would LOVE to see Newt's blunt honesty coming from the White House!
    My big issues is Supreme Court appointments and no one is talking about this. Our next president will be appointing at LEAST two life time members to our Supreme Court and could appoint as many as four. If Obama is the one making those appointments, the SCOTUS will swing far to the left giving it the ability to change our country in ways that Obama and his liberal Democrat Congress could not. And they will do it in record time. Newt will not appoint liberals to the SCOTUS…and for now, that is good enough for me!

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  • Mason

    Endorsed by no other than that progressive Todd Palin!…and his wife!