Skip to comments.Glenn Beck and Bill Clinton Share An Intellectual Godfather
Posted on 09/17/2009 1:48:43 PM PDT by nickcarraway
At least, thats how it seems if this excellent piece in Salon is to be believed. The writer, Alex Zaitchick, dives into the fever swamps of the right to uncover the influence of someone named Cleon Skousen on the Glenn Beck crowd. Skousen, who died in 2006 at the age of 92, was a paranoid and racist crank whose screed, The 5,000 Year Leap, is now the subject of a popular revival on the right. Salon describes the book thusly:
Leap, first published in 1981, is a heavily illustrated and factually challenged attempt to explain American history through an unspoken lens of Mormon theology Leap argues that the U.S. Constitution is a godly document above all else, based on natural law, and owes more to the Old and New Testaments than to the secular and radical spirit of the Enlightenment. It lists 28 fundamental beliefs based on the sayings and writings of Moses, Jesus, Cicero, John Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith that Skousen says have resulted in more God-directed progress than was achieved in the previous 5,000 years of every other civilization combined. The book reads exactly like what it was until Glenn Beck dragged it out of Mormon obscurity: a textbook full of aggressively selective quotations intended for conservative religious schools like Utahs George Wythe University
According to the piece, Beck has repeatedly exhorted his listeners to buy the book; it was, in turn, catapulted up the best-seller lists, even achieving the top spot on Amazon for a while. Apparently, Beck wrote a new introduction for the book and has Skousens children on his show regularly. Beck has turned Skousenwho was once deemed to crazy and out-there even for the extreme Goldwater right of the 1960sinto a household name (in some households).
While examining Skousens career, the article writes that a book called Tragedy and Hope influenced him deeply:
Tragedy and Hope, Skousen believed, exposed the details of what would come to be known as the New World Order (NWO) the book so moved Skousen that in 1970 he self-published a breathless 144-page review essay called The Naked Capitalist. Nearly 40 years later, it remains a foundational document of Americas NWO conspiracy and survivalist scene
Now, heres where things get truly strange. Tragedy and Hope was written by a not particularly well known Georgetown professor named Carroll Quigley. Quigleys most famous student was Bill Clinton. The former president later mentioned Quigley in his 1992 speech to the Democratic National Convention. As a teenager, I heard John Kennedys summons to citizenship, thundered Clinton to the crowd. And then, as a student at Georgetown, I head that call clarified by a professor name Carol Quigley, who said to us that America was the greatest Nation in history because our people had always believed in two things- that tomorrow can be better than today and that every one of us has a personal moral responsibility to make it so.
In his memoirs, Clinton writes that, during his presidency, he quoted Quigley often. He goes on to mention Quigley favorably several times throughout the book. David Maraniss, a Clinton biographer, calls Quigley Clintons favorite professor.
And yet Quigley went on to influence the most paranoid aspects of the right wing.
Of course, I think that Bill Clinton was a fine president, and Glenn Beck is many cards short of a full deck. But its an interesting lesson in historical coincidence nonetheless.
That’s a lie about Skousen.
I’m not sure I can take another Salon piece that goes to Pauline Kael levels of meaning to find racism in someone’s words.
How racist of you to say that.
Just how low can the left go?
Are they really trying to relate Glenn Beck to Cleon Skousen? (Whoever the hell he is)
What’s next? Did Beck steal a piece of gum when he was in the 3rd grade?
Ohhh. Them low-life conservatives!!!
Soooooooooo what is the point the author is making precisely?
I'll let Rev. Manning respond for me.
Methinks that neither Clinton, nor Beck, really understood Skousen...esp if Skousen was warning about the New World Order.
Clinton was a big proponent of the NWO (Free Trader, Liberal Globalist). Beck, while covering the NAU back at CNN...seems to have stayed away from this since he has been at Fox....and now that Beck is “friends” with Bill O’Reilly. Of course, Beck has been smiting the Obama Birth issue
Cleon Skousen and Carroll Quigley ... the grand daddy’s of conspiracy theory? The initial in depth writers on world government.
I read both their books in college, years ago. Quite interesting, though it didn’t make me put my cash in my mattress or other things.
Quigley & Bill Clinton ... Beck & Skousen. Hummm! Not the only two these guys have mentored.
Quigey & Skousen ... both Doctors. Quigley in history (Ph. D.)and Skousen in law (J.D.).
Can't be TOO popular. Never heard of the guy.
My recollection is that Skousen was very big with the John Birch Society folks back in the 60s-70s.
He disabused me of the Left-Right comparisons of the day...and today for that matter...by comparing governments with a dipstick reading. Anarchy being the absence of government,therefore empty on the dipstick,and a full reading being a communist dictatorship.
That lecture has stuck with me ever since.I spoke with him afterward at some length and found him to be learned,very intelligent,a man of honest straightforward opinions and a man I am grateful to have met,even if only briefly.
Of course in those days I was a young right wing extremist...as opposed to being old today.
That you're racist.
Of course communists will take every opportunity they can get to attack him. This is to be expected.
LOL! Me too.
“Soooooooooo what is the point the author is making precisely?”
I don’t know myself-it’s like trying to follow a Keith Olbermann rant, but he apparently thinks we should have followed the “secular and radical spirit of the Enlightenment”, and instead of becoming America, we should have become...FRANCE/s;)
“Are they really trying to relate Glenn Beck to Cleon Skousen? (Whoever the hell he is)”
Yes they are. A google of his name will show that this is going viral all over the “left side” of the internet. I guess this is what they “have” on Beck.
Problem is, I doubt anyone has ever heard of this guy. I know I haven’t until this minute.
NWO conspiracy theory is a poisonous trap. It diverts attention from the true existential threats.