What Obama Grasps, and Beck Doesn't

Here's something I never thought I would type: Barack Obama gets it, and Glenn Beck doesn't seem to.

During his recent interview with 60 Minutes, Obama was asked by CBS reporter Steve Kroft how the president sized up the field of Republicans vying to be his opponent in 2012.  Obama's answer was candid and refreshingly accurate: "It doesn't really matter who the nominee is gonna be," he said.  "The core philosophy that they're expressing is the same.  And the contrast in visions between where I want to take the country and what -- where they say they want to take the country is gonna be stark."

The president couldn't be more right in that assessment -- a reality that I think is lost on many of us who are political junkies.  Those for whom the world of politics is either our livelihood or at least an obsessive hobby tend to view issues through a different lens and apply a level of detailed inspection to them that average citizens simply do not.

For instance, my wife and I watched the recent Republican presidential debate in Iowa together.  She cares about her country and the direction it's going, but she's not the least bit interested in following the day-to-day drama of the presidential horse race.  In fact, this was the first primary debate she has seen this year.

As the debate was unfolding, I noticed a remarkable difference in the way we perceived it.  I was being hypercritical of certain responses or question-dodging, yet she was constantly saying things like "That was a good point," or "I like him," or "He knows his stuff."  When the debate was over, her comment was, "This is going to be hard, isn't it?"  But contrary to the media template that has emerged about the "epically weak Republican field," she didn't mean it was going to be hard trying to figure out which one of those jokers could possibly compete with Obama.  No, when I asked her to clarify, she said, "It's going to be hard to figure out which one of them to support when they all are so much better than what we've got."  Bingo.

While I was obsessing over the trivial differences in style or the substantive conflicts of specific policy between the candidates, my wife was looking at the big picture -- each of those Republican candidates represented a marked departure from the Obama regime.  And dare I say she is much more reflective of the hundreds of millions of eligible voters who will head to the polls next year?

That reality is what makes Glenn Beck's recent comments so perplexing.  Set aside the silly proposition that a Tea Partier who supports Gingrich over Obama is doing so only because of race.  I attribute that nonsense to a frustrated Beck trying to draw attention to Newt's progressive proclivities, rather than an honest indictment of a large swath of the population with whom he shares mutual respect and admiration.  But Beck's underlying assumption that a President Gingrich (or Romney, to a slightly lesser degree) would be a replica of President Obama is mystifying.  And his further suggestion that he would consider a third-party alternative to Gingrich is beyond irresponsible, given that it all but ensures a second term of the very man Beck has rightly castigated as leading our country into the abyss.

As a man of integrity, I can only assume that Beck is charting this course based on principle.  Fair enough.  But as an admirer of Beck who recognizes the profound influence he wields on the right, I humbly ask: what principle does he hold that makes throwing Israel under the bus the best option?  What principle does Beck hold that makes continuing to expand the practice of legalized child-killing the proper decision?  What principle does Beck hold that makes the implementation and ingraining of ObamaCare into the fabric of our society a more noble choice?

Conservatives would be well-advised to make the case for their candidate in this primary and promote said candidate vigorously, while keeping in perspective what even the president himself understands: that all six of the individuals on the recent Republican debate stage represent a fundamental shift in philosophy from the current occupant of the White House. 

Considering that Americans are now facing double the gas prices since Obama took office, almost double the unemployment from what it was the majority of Bush's terms, double the debt, double the deficit, four times as many foreign countries under the thumb of the Muslim Brotherhood, fewer staunch allies who trust us, one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, more Americans than ever on food stamps, and the looming threat of a dramatic uptick in job loss as the president's own signature "accomplishment" from his first term (ObamaCare) is fully implemented, that's a reality that every conservative -- including Glenn Beck -- should be shouting from the rooftops.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana.  E-mail peter@peterheck.com, visit www.peterheck.com, or like him on Facebook.