These days, it seems like it's Ed Rendell's world and the rest of us are innocent bystanders. The last few weeks have been in marked contrast to most of the eight years that he's been Pennsylvania's governor, a surprisingly fast tenure that ends tomorrow -- when there were stretches of months when we didn't hear all that much from our man in Harrisburg, unless you're a regular watcher of "Eagles Post-Game Live."
To the extent that people paid attention, Rendell was an OK-to-pretty-good center left governor, getting more money to schools and boosting wind power -- but with his fair share of demerits for a government that occasionally spied on its own citizens and let its "little frackers" run wild. Then, in the last few weeks, with his 24 years in elected office about to end, Rendell ran wild, calling America "a nation of wusses" for cancelling an Eagles game in the snow, freaking out on Leslie Stahl and "60 Minutes," and turning up on my cable TV set more often that that gekko, no mean feat.
It all seemed like an extended pilot for Rendell's second, late-life career as a media talking head, the job he may have been best suited for all along.
But Glenn Beck saw something we didn't.
Last Thursday the Fox News Channel host did a TV broadcast, in which, according to my pals at Media Matters for America, Beck discussed:
the theme of which was that the 20th century should be seen as "the era of the big lie." According to Beck, during the past 100 years a loose association of shadowy figures who believed themselves to be the "intelligent minority" infected the country with their notion that the people are "animals" who can be controlled through propaganda. He further warned that this same elite was leading the modern progressive movement and would similarly seek to manipulate the masses in the twenty-first century.
So who are these nefarious figures from government, finance, media, and academia who believe they can and should control everyone's choices, "not just in politics, but everywhere"? In tonight's episode, Beck singles out nine of them.
The main point of the Media Matters post is...funny thing, but eight of the nine "puppet masters" that Beck singled out happen to be Jewish. Surely a coincidence, right? Looking at his selections, you'll find some heavyweights (no pun intended) of the 20th Century like Sigmund Freud, ad guru Edward Bernays, and of course Beck's billionaire bete noir George Soros, as well as some more obscure choices.
But none more obscure than this choice...Ed Rendell? Beck played the clip of Rendell's "60 Minutes" confrontation as an excuse to brand the outgoing Pennsylvania governor as "one of the elites that are there to guide the herd."
I'm still trying to figure this one out. For one thing, "elitist" is one of the few criticisms you rarely hear about Rendell, despite his Ivy League education at Penn, because of his much-discussed ability to relate to Pa.'s blue-collar, "700 Level" electorate. What's more, not to minimize Rendell's importance, but I'm not sure if I'd put him up there with Freud on the 20th Century (and beyond) power scale, not yet anyway. Maybe the whole thing is another product of Beck's notorious short attention span -- he'd been talking about Rendell and the gambling issue earlier in the week, so he threw him on his list of "big lie" purveyors because...it's just something that popped into his inscrutable brain.
Whatever. The irony is that Rendell leaves the governor's mansion after tonight and seems to be on the way up, at least as a media star.
Beck, meanwhile, vanished from the radio airwaves in Philadelphia (in New York) today, and seems to be on the way down. And that's no big lie.