Sunday, March 17, 2019

Reading Glenn Beck's The Overton Window Ch 1-3

MAGA Americans love to talk about "the Overton Window" nearly as much as they like to talk about Saul Alinsky, so when I saw this book by the infamous Glenn Beck available for free via my Kindle, I snapped it up.

Time for another read-through of a silly book by a silly writer. Though from what I understand, Beck didn't actually write this one -- he paid a ghost writer to write it for him. Which is just sad. Because this book is terrible.

It starts with an introduction, in which Beck assures you this this book is not fiction, it is (dum dum) faction.

Beck defines faction as fiction based on facts. (1) That's pretty much all fiction, you potato, and (B) yeah, no, not this one.

The rest of the introduction is Beck lecturing us on how he's not an ideologue and this book isn't about being Right or Left wing, and it has nothing to do with who is President now, this is just about the Truth. (Who was President then, by the way, was Obama.) This could really happen, he asserts, and it could happen any time, not just when that, no matter WHO has seized control.

Beck know critics will try to silence him, by saying his book is silly or terrible, because that's always what happens when people try to Speak the Truth. He doesn't care, though. He's going to Speak the Truth anyway.

Then we cut to a prologue (yes, this book has both an introduction and a prologue) in which an obvious lunatic named Eli Churchill is talking to what I guess is a reporter, via a payphone.

(Me: Oh My God.)

I mean, seriously, when was the last time you even saw a payphone? I had to explain to my students what one was when it showed up in a 1985 movie I was showing in class.

Anyway, this guy is reading from an enormous sheaf of papers, trying to tell the reporter what he has learned.

"Could you just tell me?" the reporter begs. This is a faction, obviously, since in reality the reporter would have hung about about 20 minutes earlier, when this raving conspiracy theorist first began to rave.

Churchill says all that money that got lost in the budget (this was a scandal Conservatives were pretending to be outraged over in the early years of the Obama administration) wasn't lost. It was being used to build something.

“I’ve seen the place, one of the places where they’re getting ready for something—something big—planning it out, you know? I got a job inside in maintenance, as a cleanup man. They thought I was just a janitor, but I had the run of the place overnights."'s like a building?

But no, because in the very next breath, Churchill says it's not a building.

“They’re building a structure…Not like a building, but like a political and economic and social structure.” 
Okay. So how do "they" hire you to scrub floors in a political and social and economic structure? And how exactly do you have the "run" of a structure like that, overnights?

Never mind, it doesn't matter, because right then someone shoots Churchill.

Eli Churchill had enough time left to begin a quiet prayer but not enough to end it. His final appeal was interrupted by a silenced gunshot, and a .357 semi- jacketed hollow point was the last thing to go through his mind. 
That's what passes for clever writing when you're Glenn Beck's ghostwriter.

Chapter One

Here we meet the main character of the novel, Noah Gardner, who were's supposed to think is adorable. He's so sexy and "puckish" that he sleeps with a different woman every weekend. Though only because he lowers his standards. He'll even sleep with a six, apparently. What a man!

But now that he has reached the advanced age of 28, he wants to give up his slutty lifestyle and settle down with a real woman.

Luckily one shows up. She's working at a temp at his ad agency, and despite that she's a temp, she's dressed....well, I don't know exactly how she's dressed. Glenn's ghostwriter says she's not following the dress code. Also that she's a "free spirit."

Is she wearing overalls? Jeans? a mini-skirt? Thigh boots and mesh stockings?

No idea. Also we don't know what she looks like except that she's really hot. But it's an "aloof and effortless hotness" which "dares" men to bring it up. You know. That "effortless hotness" real women have.

Also she has a perfect "line," something Noah's artist friend talks about.

Noah falls in love in 5 seconds. Literally. This is true love, he knows, just from looking at her "effortless hotness," and that perfect "line."

Chapter Two

So he hits on her. Guess how.

"Need some help?" he says. She's pinning something to a bulletin board, so obviously she needs his help to do that. I mean, she's just a girl. She shoots him a contemptuous look and continues to try to pin whatever it is up all by herself.

And now we get a description!

You won't be surprised to find that "effortless hotness" means not much makeup. Also her "abundant" hair is pinned up in a loose bun with two crossed pencils. And she has -- I know this will shock you -- green eyes.

He goes over to help despite her dismissal and finds she is posting an "amateur" looking notice about a political meeting to the bulletin board. The header lets us know this meeting will be held by a political group called We The People.

If you love your country but fear for its future, join us for an evening of TRUTH that will open your eyes! 
Oh my God. It's a TEA PARTY novel.

There are about fifteen "guest speakers" listed, all associated with groups like "The Guardians of Liberty" and "Founders Keepers." One is a YouTube start with 300,000 followers!

The "Effortlessly hot" woman is Molly Ross, as Noah discovers after looking at her name tag (after a long lingering look at her cleavage, where he spots a tattoo of what might be an angel). Molly says she doesn't expect anyone from this place to come to the meeting, since PR firms aren't interested in The Truth.

Also she knows who Noah is.

“Noah Gardner. Twenty-first floor, northwest corner office. Vice president as of last Thursday. And a son of a … big shot.” 
“Wow. For a second I wasn’t sure where you were going with that last one.” 

Oh look. More Humor!

Noah turns out to be the son of the owner of the PR firm, which I guess is why he's sitting around in the break room eating Tootsie Rolls (I kid you not, that's what he's eating). You'd think the son of the owner would have his own office and his own staff and better taste, but not in this Factional Universe.

Anyway, Noah says he plans to go to her meeting. Why? Because he's patriotic. Very patriotic, in fact. Not because he's stalking Molly or anything.

Molly makes what is supposed to be a sparkling joke about Noah and the Ark, and we're out of there.

Chapter Three 

Oh, here's some plot, finally. 

Chapter starts with a faux document from Homeland Security, all about how the collapse of the economy is causing "radicals" to rise up, and how a "contingency plan" needs to be formed to deal with them.

A list of radicals includes one or two radical liberal groups, like "Earth First," but mainly it is groups like The Tea Party and homeschoolers and "anti-abortionists," as well as gun-rights activists, Anti-Immigration groups, Christian Dominionists, and White Nationalists.

You may not remember this, but during the early years of Obama's time in office, a report did leak saying that the FBI and Homeland Security judged that White Nationalists and other conservative activists were a danger to the country. Conservatives had a screaming tantrum, because obviously white nationalists and anti-abortion groups weren't a threat.

The document goes on to talk vaguely about "enhanced interrogation" and "extralegal detention" of members of this group, before being abruptly cut off as we switch to a meeting in a boardroom, being led by Noah's daddy, Arthur Gardner, who is 78 years old even though his son is only 28, and who has -- I think, the writing is hard to follow here -- been hired by Homeland Security to run a PR program which will convinced "the public" that this leaked report isn't true.

No problem, Arthur says. In fact, it's already done. (How? Well, he just told the Washington Post to say it was fake. Problem solved.)

Then we have a 15-page long speech from Arthur, in which he snarls and screams at everyone in the room, including the people from Homeland Security, telling them that the truth is whatever he says it is, that he's rich, that they are cowards and fools*, and that the world is about to be destroyed by a financial tsunami.

Here he tells a story of an actual tsunami which he watched, standing on the roof of his big hotel in Sri Lanka. Lots of people died under the giant wave. He found this very interesting.

We're supposed to think Arthur is a monster -- I know, because a few pages later he name-checked Saul Alinsky along with some other evil people, like the founder of the Washington Post -- so I guess him watching hundreds of thousands of people die just for fun is supposed to reveal the depths of his villainy.

Apparently Arthur is also the one Churchhill was talking about, back in the prologue, since we also learn here that he is building a "structure," a "new framework," which will last after the USA has been washed away in the coming tsunami.

There's tons more. But my God is the writing terrible. Glenn Beck's ghostwriter apparently thinks that people stand around spouting speeches is good writing. It's not. Also, why would a super villain like Arthur Gardner reveal his plans in a boardroom filled with sixty or seventy people? Including some from Homeland Security?

I mean, is he an idiot?

Noah leaves halfway through this rant speech, and who can blame him.

So far this book is both badly written and very slow. Also, it's clear neither Glenn Beck nor his ghost writer know how actual big corporations work.

That's as much as I can take today. More later!

* ETA It occurs to me that Noah's dad is a pretty good picture of Donald Trump, right down to the world salad and the bullying. I wonder if this is intentional? I know Trump wasn't running for president in 2010, when this book was published, but he was already pretty well-known.

1 comment:

D Shannon said...

"I mean, seriously, when was the last time you even saw a payphone?"

I have seen several just this year, and even used one of them. You can usually find them at bus or train stations.

Also, if the book's terrible, that means the ghostwriter did a very good job. I've had to hear Glenn Beck when my mother listens to him on the radio. Do you understand how awful you have to be just to come close to his level?