Glenn Beck and Bill Clinton Share An Intellectual Godfather
True/Slant ^ | Sep. 17 2009 | ETHAN PORTER
Posted on Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:48:43 PM by nickcarraway
At least, that’s 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 Utah’s 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 Skousen’s children on his show regularly. Beck has turned Skousen–who was once deemed to crazy and out-there even for the extreme Goldwater right of the 1960’s–into a household name (in some households).
While examining Skousen’s career, the article writes that a book called Tragedy and Hope influenced him deeply: