Why is Glenn Beck freaking out over Egypt and a caliphate?

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck finds in Egypt’s democratic revolution a conspiracy involving left and right. Other conservatives are distancing themselves from Beck’s “delusional ravings.”

Fox News
Glenn Beck explains how a group of “like-minded” organizations and individuals – from the Muslim Brotherhood to the AFL-CIO – is working to “overthrow and overturn stability.”

Caliph: A successor of Muhammad as temporal and spiritual head of Islam.

Caliphate: What Glenn Beck warns could take over much of the western world.

It’s not a “conspiracy,” Glenn Beck says, but just a group of “like-minded” organizations and individuals – from the Muslim Brotherhood to the AFL-CIO (with assorted other fellow travelers in a "red-green alliance") – working together to “overthrow and overturn stability.” And he has the charts, graphs, and a map to prove it.

If such protests become "contagious," he warns, they will "sweep the Middle East" then "begin to destabilize Europe and the rest of the world."

Beck’s latest theory about where the freedom revolution in Egypt is headed may resonate with his hard-core followers. But it has some conservatives wondering if he’s gone off the deep end.

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a regular Fox News commentator, welcomes the debate among conservatives over the political revolution in Egypt.

“It’s a sign of health that a political and intellectual movement does not respond to a complicated set of developments with one voice,” he wrote recently.

“But hysteria is not a sign of health,” he continued. “When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.”

In the conservative National Review, editor Rich Lowry called Kristol’s comments “a well-deserved shot at Glenn Beck’s latest wild theorizing.”

On PBS’s Newshour Friday night, New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks contrasted Beck’s “delusional ravings about the caliphate coming back” with “the conservative establishment, which saw [the end of the Mubarak regime in Egypt] as a fulfillment of Ronald Reagan's democracy dream.”

“For the first time, you began to see a lot of really serious conservatives taking on Beck and people like that, and saying, you know, your theories are just wacky,” Brooks said.

Beck, whose signature image is being outraged at the left (tinged with conspiracy theories), apparently has decided to push his brand ever farther. Do his ratings have anything to do with that?

From January 2010 to last month, the number of his viewers dropped 39 percent – the steepest decline of any cable news show.

“It's entirely possible viewers are simply tiring of the chalkboard and the high rhetoric, which has been notably higher of late,” Business Insider reported earlier this month. “And needless to say Beck is not the phenom he was a year ago, merely by dint of the country becoming more familiar with him.”

Meanwhile, some 300 advertisers have asked not to be on his show – a trend that began when Beck called President Obama a “racist.”

As is typically his style, Beck doesn’t address the arguments of his opponents but goes after them personally.

"People like Bill Kristol ... I don't think they stand for anything anymore," says Beck. "All they stand for is power. They'll do anything to keep their little fiefdom together, and they'll do anything to keep the Republican power entrenched."

And in his latest monologue about “the new world order,” Beck had this to say about his critics: “You want to call me crazy? Go to hell. Call me crazy all you want."

All of this has become great fun for others in the commentariat.

“Of course, the conspiracy goes deeper than Beck has yet revealed,” writes Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic. “I'm hoping that, in coming days, if the Freemasons, working in concert with Hezbollah and the Washington Redskins, don't succeed in suppressing the truth, that Beck will reveal the identities of the most pernicious players in this grotesque campaign to subvert our way of life.”

“I can't reveal too much here,” Goldberg writes. “But I think it's fair to say that Beck will be paying a lot of attention in the coming weeks to the dastardly, pro-caliphate work of Joy Behar; the makers of Little Debbie snack cakes; the 1980s hair band Def Leppard; Omar Sharif; and the Automobile Association of America. And remember, you read it here first.”

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