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Milbank Finds the Humor in the ‘Tears of a Clown’

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Fox News personality Glenn Beck speaks during the Restoring Honor rally Aug. 28 in Washington.

Beck calls himself a rodeo clown and an entertainer, someone not meant to be taken seriously. Milbank, too, has fashioned himself as D.C.’s court jester, a wry observer of political life, snickering at the foibles of powerful people from his columns in the Washington Post and from this book.

But Milbank seems to know, even if he refuses to say outright, that Beck’s rise is deadly serious. Milbank points out that Beck frequently uses violent language and claims the White House is coming after him. Over the years, he has proposed physical harm for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and filmmaker Michael Moore.

In his last chapter, Milbank reveals that a video clip of Beck and Ron Paul discussing the FEMA camps was posted to a neo-Nazi website by a Pittsburgh man named Richard Poplawski, who wrote that the city was “ramping up the police state.” Weeks later, Poplawski, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and other guns, killed three police officers leading to a four-hour standoff with a SWAT team.

Milbank writes that blaming Beck for the three deaths “goes a bit too far” but that “the episode does show how Beck’s words are inspiring the fringe, and bringing some of their wacky theories into the mainstream.”

Wacky? The Three Stooges are wacky. Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd are wacky. Whether Milbank admits it, Glenn Beck is no laughing matter.

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