Beck vs. Bennett: Who's More Accurate?

Saturday night Glenn Beck gave the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference. I watched it live primarily because I appreciate much of what Beck says. He also is quite entertaining in the way he makes his points—something that more people need to incorporate into their messages.

Beck has been in the forefront of illuminating the role of progressivism in American history and how it has returned with a vengeance under Barack Obama. He is correct in his analysis of its detrimental effects. He is also correct when he states that progressive views have infiltrated the Republican party as well as the Democrats, but he has a tendency to go too far.

Bill Bennett, former education secretary under Ronald Reagan, yesterday took Beck to task for eliminating all differences between Republicans and Democrats. I like what he had to say as well. Let me give you a sample:

For him to continue to say that he does not hear the Republican party admit its failings or problems is to ignore some of the loudest and brightest lights in the party. From Jim DeMint to Tom Coburn to Mike Pence to Paul Ryan, any number of Republicans have admitted the excesses of the party and done constructive and serious work to correct them and find and promote solutions. Even John McCain has said again and again that “the Republican party lost its way.” These leaders, and many others, have been offering real proposals, not ill-informed muttering diatribes that can’t distinguish between conservative and liberal, free enterprise and controlled markets, or night and day. Does Glenn truly believe there is no difference between a Tom Coburn, for example, and a Harry Reid or a Charles Schumer or a Barbara Boxer? Between a Paul Ryan or Michele Bachmann and a Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank?

I’ve been disturbed by the attitude of “throw everyone out.” I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: don’t throw out the principled leaders along with the unprincipled. And if you believe there are no principled leaders, you’re not paying attention. You’re allowing your emotions to rule. Anger over what has transpired in this country is natural; anger that leads to irrational actions is foolishness.

Bennett adds,

A year ago, we were told the Republican party and the conservative movement were moribund. Today they are ascendant, and it is the left and the Democratic party that are on defense — even while they are in control. That’s quite an amazing achievement. But anyone who knows the history of this country and its political movements should not be surprised. America has a long tradition of antibodies that kick in. From Carter we got Reagan. And from Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama we took back a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, with midterm elections on the horizon that Republicans and conservatives are actually excited about, not afraid of.

I agree. Let’s not sound the death knell yet. By all means, warn with all our might—that’s what I do in this blog on a regular basis. But let’s be careful of our rhetoric.

As I noted above, I enjoy watching Beck. I agree with most of what he said at CPAC, and I wish others would be as bold. Yet even Beck needs to rethink some of what he is saying and take seriously serious critiques such as the one offered by Bennett. If the strengths of both could be combined, we would be the better for it.