I’m no fan of President Obama’s clumsy attempts to play media critic.
The Obama administration’s wrangling with Fox News last year was as wrongheaded as it was counterproductive. A smart president does not dismiss an entire national network, even if it is biased. Indeed, as I argued at the time, leaders are supposed to stir it up with their critics — not refuse to accept interview invitations.
Obama is not always wrong when he talks about Fox personalities, however.
Asked the other day by CBS News’ Harry Smith about talk-radio and talk-TV assaults on him during the health-care reform debate, the president termed Glenn Beck’s on-air ranting "troublesome."
To the extent that "troublesome" is a synonym for "bizarre," it is hard to argue with the assessment of the man who has spent the weeks leading up to Easter attempting to rebrand Christianity as a rich-man’s religion.
Christians will, in the spirit of the season, forgive Glenn Beck’s war on Easter — or, to be more precise, on the basic tenets of the religion that, with Easter, celebrates the foundation of its faith — just as, I’m sure, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly must forgive everyone he accuses each year of waging a war on Christmas.
After all, when someone is as wrong as Beck, it is cruel to pick on them. And, make no mistake, Beck is wrong about the social gospel preached by the Nazarene whose followers celebrate his resurrection on Easter.
In the weeks leading up to the central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year, Beck has used his Fox News platform to call on Christians to leave their churches if they hear mention of the phrase "social justice," which he suggests is a code phrase for socialism — or worse.
"I beg you look for the words social justice or economic justice on your church Web site," shouts Beck. "If you find it, run as fast as you can."
"Everything we see pushed down the throats of the American people right now–TARP, the stimulus, health care, immigration reform, bailouts, cap-and-trade–they all have one thing in common: Their PR campaigns contain two words: ‘social justice,’" claims Beck.
Beck is bugged that priests and pastors have been suggesting that a child raised by a carpenter from Galilee might have sided with the poor, or that a child born in a manger because there was no room at the inn might have nurtured some concern for strangers in a strange land.
How bugged? He mentions these preachers in the same jittery breath as Nazis, Communists and, horrors, progressives.
Unfortunately for Beck, two-thousand years of religious history and teaching have led a good many Christians to presume that the Nazarene really was passionate about economic and social justice. They can’t seem to get that whole chasing the moneychangers from the temple incident out of their heads.