2009's Idiot of the Year award goes to Glenn Beck. I think that many of the other nominees (and Sarah Palin) could beat Beck on a single incident. That is, I'd put statements by Michele Bachmann or a few of the others right up there against anything Beck said and expect them to come away victorious. But I don't think any of the others can match Beck's consistent body of work over the year. Ray Comfort probably comes closest, but he doesn't have anything like Beck's popularity or influence.
In my opinion, 2009 marks the true low point in American political discourse (at least I hope it doesn't get any worse). We have many to thank for that but none quite as compelling as Glenn Beck. He started with the standard liberal-basing of a Limbaugh, added the sheer craziness of a Coulter, and added his own unique blend of paranoid conspiracy theory, mugging for the camera, and fake tears that would make the Orangeman proud. Glenn Beck was the poster child for American idiocy in 2009.
The thing about Beck is that for all his clowning, he has to be taken seriously because he is dangerous in the same way that religion is dangerous. Like religion, Beck feeds on human ignorance and prejudice through over-the-top emotional appeals. He plays on our fears and our innate tendency to connect unrelated events to make sense out of our world. Beck is an extraordinary evangelist for the some of the worst aspects of humanity.
And now for some "honorable" mentions:
- Idiot I almost felt sorry for: Carrie Prejean (I said "almost!")
- Idiot I most want to see rot in prison: Dick Cheney
- Idiot who best demonstrates the need for education: The birthers
- Religious idiot of the year: Ray "the banana man" Comfort
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