Title: Arguing with Idiots (How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government)
Editors: Glenn Beck and Kevin Balfe
Writers: Steve Burguiere, Dan Andros, Brian Sack, Alan Gura, Pat Gray, David Harsanyl, Carol Lynne, and Carol Williott
Illustrator: Paul E. Nunn
Published: Simon & Schuster (2009)
Genre: Nonfiction; Politics
It turns out it was a bit much to ask Glenn Beck to write his own book. I might have known better had I ever subjected myself to tuning into his television or radio shows. But, it seemed somewhat unfair to peg the guy as inadequate to be the sole author of his own book given the only times I've ever heard him speak has been when he's spouted the most inane chatter to be found on cable news or talk radio. He wasn't even the soul editor for the litany of writers who did write this book. He is a brand--an anti-liberal, anti-intellectual, anti-rational soft drink.
That's one of two reasons why this book disappointed me. The other reason was, and this was not the least bit surprising or enlightening, because the book is just another tacky tome of wing-nut ideology. The same tactics are used by any other hyper-partisan manifesto: appeal to the reader by highlighting the worst of the fringe elements on the opposite end of the political spectrum, then apply those "facts" to the rest in a broad generalization. Ann Coulter and Michael Moore do it, so why would I expect the guy who called the Disney film, Happy Feet, liberal propaganda about global warming--why would I expect that guy to come up with something different.
However, if you think Glenn Beck is a stand-up guy with a keen sense of what's really going on in the world, then this is an easy to read echo chamber of a book. Also, if you think that of Glenn Beck, I can't help but question your own sanity--along with his.
If you see this book as a chance to revel in a literary version of Beck's patented form of snake oil crazy, prepare to be underwhelmed. The psychosis witnessed through his maniacal rants and crocodile tears is heavily muted, thanks in large part to the fact that he wrote so little of this book. The craziness is diffused by a quirky sense of humor that misses the mark more often than not, with cartoon captions and not-so-witty asides masquerading as footnotes. For a guy who thinks he's on a mission from God to restore America to its perceived former glory, it's incredibly hard to take the guy seriously--especially when this book is littered with photographs of him mugging for the camera like a Vaudevillian huckster.
Check it out if you have a morbid curiosity and low expectations, otherwise skip it.