Glenn Beck fans flooded Washington D.C. on Saturday for the Fox News host's "Restoring Honor" event. Despite critics' concerns in the days leading up to the boldly hyped rally, the event saw neither placard-waving rightwing extremists nor racially charged counterprotests. Instead, the mostly conservative crowd — CBS News estimates it at 87,000, while conservative pundits insist 500,000 showed up — was treated to three hours of patriotic speeches and videos, homilies to Beck-anointed heroes, and exhortations to Americans to become more prayerful. What did pundits make of the day's events? (Watch The Week's Sunday Talk Show Briefing about Beck's rally)
The rally restored God to the debate over America: The event was "short on specifics, long on platitudes," says Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard, just as the rallies held for Barack Obama in the run-up to the 2008 election were. But where Obama's events "emphasized himself as a savior of the American people," Beck's rally "emphasized belief in God." His call to restore faith, hope, and charity was the true "post-partisan moment."
"Beck, Palin, Faith, Hope and Charity."
Actually, hypocrisy was the main feature: Beck lamented on Saturday how our country is dividing itself, says John Avlon at the Daily Beast. "It made me wonder if Glenn Beck has ever watched the Glenn Beck show." The Fox News host broadcasts a "daily drumbeat of division," pitting his army of "God-fearing patriots" against the "secular socialists" he imagines running the country. Until he quits his own divisive rhetoric, these calls for unity will ring very hollow indeed.
"Glenn Beck's hypocritical revival"
This represents the start of something big: What Beck has done is identify the "core values" of the modern conservative movement, says Tabitha Hale at RedState. The people who attended on Saturday are "committed to making our country better, and connecting with other people that are as passionate as they are about faith and freedom." With a groundswell like this, November will surely bring real change to America.
"8/28 Wrap Up"
No, it's too muddled: Other than wanting Republicans to win elections, says Steven Benen at Washington Monthly, it's difficult to work out "what these throngs of Americans are fighting for, exactly." Real movements are about more than "buzz words, television personalities... [and] vague, shallow promises about 'freedom.'" Until someone comes up with a coherent message beyond unfocused rage and meaningless platitudes, these Tea Party patriots are going to achieve nothing at all.
"Movements are about something real"