Enter Paul Mason. Writing for the BBC, he recounts a recent demagogue-less Beck speech. "Once Glenn Beck starts speaking the language becomes restrained, moderate, not even a hint of euphemism or innuendo," he writes, "indeed an insistence that the audience must reach out and persuade their political enemies, not hate them."
"[T]here was no hate in the speech I heard," Mason adds later. "And there was very little politics. In the process of becoming the figurehead for the American right, Beck has found new depths within his own personality and 'got religion' even more than he had it before."
Mason isn't alone in his observations. Tim Kraulidis was assigned as Beck's escort at another recent speaking engagement. Kraulidis describes the events he saw as intriguing. "I was impressed with the politeness, sincerity, and friendliness of this man," he writes. "He is a very conscientious man." He goes on to explain that Beck fulfilled every picture request, went out of his way to greet volunteers and production staff, and noted that Beck's attitude was such that "it was not all about him." No hate speech. No fear mongering.
Yeah, but what about the hard core haters?
Spotlight on blogger Emily Zanotti. She admits she doesn't like Beck: "I'm not a fan of the guy. I never have been." But after attending one of Beck's event last weekend, she had to confess, "I liked it (well, a good chunk of it), and that freaks me the f**k out." [Asterisks her's.] As she explains:
[L]et me be really honest here - from the perspective of someone who has come to believe the hype surrounding Glenn Beck's slow descent from conservative talking head to universally-reviled public figure and who frequently answers questions about him with "I understand what he's doing, but I don't think he's moving anything in the right direction" -- I actually left inspired.
After the historical references, the calls for charity, and the many allusions to faith and God, Zanotti couldn't figure out why people hate him: "I will say that I left with a little more respect for the man and a lot less respect for his most vocal detractors."
In the end, Zanotti's not trying to make any converts, but simply making an observation:
He's well crafted, well spoken, well packaged and well timed. And if you love him, you love him. If you hate him, you hate him.
But what does it say when those who are supposed to hate him start liking him?