I don’t know if Glenn Beck is really talking about what he sounds like he’s talking about here. As I read it, he was speaking hypothetically, like “what do we do if?…” The sentiment, however, is common enough to be talked of. Sometimes people feel like killing a President. But it’s been a while since someone killed a president out of patriotic obligation, out of the need to dispatch a tyrant. In fact, I’m pretty sure the last one to do that was acting out of patriotic obligation to an abhorrent rebellion aimed at using the rhetoric of liberty in order to keep men in bondage.
But let’s say that Trump, or Hillary for that matter, becomes the caudillo/caudilla of our worst nightmares. Is assassination the way to deal with him/her?
No. Here is why:
If classical references are lost on you, this is the Death of Caesar. Julius Caeser was assassinated at the beginning of a public meeting of the Senate by 12 Senators who had decided that Julius Caeser was a threat to the Republic, that his becoming Dictator Perpetuus was the latest in a string of unconstitutional excesses that would end in Rome becoming an authoritarian state.
In this, they were almost certainly correct.
But in assassinating them, they made that state certain. In assassinating Caesar, they made him a martyr, and themselves – and the cause they espoused – the enemies of good order. Within a few years, the Roman imperium is divided among Caeser’s heirs. Within 20, Octavian has legally obtained from a tame Senate all the authority that matters. And the Roman people stood mum as long peace obtained.
Brutus and Cassius failed. John Wilkes Booth failed. Assassination is not a path to liberty.
Camp of the Saints links me approvingly, like a gentleman and a scholar. And then he draws an interesting parallel between Beck and Founding Father James Otis:
Otis suffered from increasingly erratic behavior as the 1760s progressed. Otis received a gash on the head by British tax collector John Robinson’s cudgel at the British Coffee House in 1769. Some mistakenly attribute Otis’s mental illness to this event, but it has been shown to be unrelated by Wroth and Zobel. John Adams has several examples in his diary of Otis’s mental illness well before 1769. By the end of the decade, Otis’s public life largely came to an end.
The Second Rule of Conservatism is: YOU DO NOT PLAY THE RACE CARD ON A FELLOW CONSERVATIVE.
Now a moment for the definition of terms. By “playing the race card” I mean concluding from a logically fallacious set of premises that someone is a racist without their being any overt evidence of that racism.
This is not the same as calling out a fellow rightie on a particularly racist comment or display. If Glenn Beck were to suddenly say “I can’t stand those dirty Chinese,” it would not be playing the race card to say “Yeah, Glen, that was kind of racist. You should apologize.” When the wingnut-osphere jumped on Trent Lott with both feet after he seemed to suggest that things would be better if the Dixiecrats had won the presidency in 1948, that was but a necessary policing of our own.
But that’s not what Becky has done. He has adopted the Garafalo argument, hook line and sinker, for no better reason than to needlessly disparage those who might favor Newt Gingrich for the GOP nomination.
Principled conservatives can argue over whether Gingrich is really one of us or not. But to pretend that his proposed policies differ in no significant way from Obama’s is to argue something demonstrably false. Gingrich may not be a Tea Partier; he cannot be an Obama Democrat.
That Beck has so tiresomely elided these differences indicates how erratic a tribune he has become.
UPDATE: Ladd Ehlinger got to this yesterday, with the same headline. But he doesn’t have a cool .jpg, does he?
MORE UPDATE: Riehl World View chimes in as well, and makes an important point about Gingrich:
Newt Gingrich has pledged to appoint Supreme Court Justices with an originalist view of the Constitution. That is no small issue; it’s a critical one for both Conservatives and Libertarians. In contrast with Obama’s two appointees, that alone is reason enough for Tea Party voters to support Gingrich over Obama. Add in the fact that any GOP administration, even one of a so-called Progressive Republican, would be subject to significant internal and external influence from the GOP’s Conservative and Libertarian wings and you can begin to appreciate just how foolish are Beck’s recent ramblings.