The year of Obamarific "change" quickly became the year of dissent as Americans grew disillusioned with the "trillion here and a trillion there" spending of President Barack Obama even as unemployment rose. The so-called "Stimulus Package," which promised to cap unemployment at 8%, did nothing to generate private sector jobs. The only area that seemed to be stimulated was joblessness, which soared above 10%.
Despite an economic disaster, the Democrats in Congress and the White House focused on socializing American health care and an economy-busting "cap and trade" scheme to hike energy taxes. To top it off, it seemed every day brought revelations about radicals with unconscionable views who either held high offices in the new administration or were funded with taxpayer money.
Suddenly, the loudmouths of the Left and the poobahs of the Lame-Stream Media — who had deemed dissent to be "the highest form of patriotism" when George W. Bush occupied the White House — whistled another tune. They began savaging of opponents of the Obama regime as Nazis, racists and ignorant rubes. Their targets weren't just public figures who stood in the way of their agenda; rather, they viciously attacked ordinary Americans, the tea partiers, to whom they gave a sobriquet (tea-baggers) that no network censors would have allowed just a few years ago.
For our Man of the Year issue, we justifiably could have taken the cheap and easy route (such as Time circa 2006) and said it was the year of the "ordinary citizen." After all, the anti-Obama Tea Party movement shook the foundations of the political establishment this summer.
All of our nominees contributed mightily to the informed dissent that gave hope for the right kind of change in the next few election cycles. Here are the nominees:
Ex-Veep Cheney, the man most hated (and feared) by the Left, won every argument he picked with Obama, scoring huge in the public arena on Attorney General Eric Holder's ridiculous persecution of the CIA staffers who interrogated suspected terrorists; and he has been effective in all other national security debates. Almost as important as the vice president's comeback is the emergence of daughter Liz Cheney as one of conservatism's most articulate defenders. If this award were for Family of the Year, the Cheneys would be the hands-down winners.
Orginally known as Matt Drudge's lieutenant in compiling the still-essential Drudge Report, Breitbart became the most influential conservative figure on the Internet this year. His smash hit site Big Hollywood immediately became a must-read on a daily basis, and he launched Big Government with the Story of the Year — the ACORN prostitution sting videos. With more sites on the way, Breitbart will continue to be one of the brightest lights in the conservative movement.
Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, deserves a slot on this list just for the self-revealing rage she generates with the liberal establishment. The former Alaska governor also is the most beloved figure among the ordinary people who are newly minted activists in the wake of Obama's big government excess. Is there any other person who can change the debate and the political lexicon with a mere Facebook entry? Death Panel is certainly the phrase of the year.
One could make the case that Limbaugh has been the conservative MVP — most valuable player or politico — every year since 1994. It's doubtful Obama 's approval rating would be under 50% and Obamacare would hover at about 60% disapproval without El Rushbo. Instead of a routine annual update on Rush's contribution to the debate, however, it's time to just name the trophy after him and move on.
And the winner is…
Whether you love him or hate him, or consider him to be a must-see TV or DVR necessity, radio and TV talker Beck is a bright new star in the conservative firmament. You might get fired up by his calls to action or wince at his emotional outbursts – you even might tune in today only to see if this is when his head finally explodes—but you have to admit, this was the Year of the Beck.
In the past 12 months, Beck rose from hosting an obscure TV show on CNN Headline News to a terrible time slot on Fox News' cable juggernaut. Regardless, his show at 5 p.m. became a ratings smash hit and attracted direct angry response from the White House.
Beck's show now attracts a far bigger audience than his competitors on CNN, MSNBC and Headline News combined. In fact, he doesn't really have any competition – on any given day, Beck can attracts 20 times the audience of Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC.
This, indeed, was the Year of the Beck. In NBA terms, Limbaugh is the 30-points-per game superstar with several championship rings, who last year played for an otherwise pathetic team. Beck is the team's rookie draft pick who exceeded expectations and brought fresh energy that caught the other team flat-footed and changed the game.
Beck is such a major part of the political landscape today that it's hard to remember he was still a minor factor just a year ago. Sure, his books sold very well, and his radio show was making a move to the top tier of the market; but during the 2008 election, the Left and the MSM were not sneering and using the term, "Limbaugh/Hannity /Beck," and Obama was not calling him out by name.
In one short year, the epithet has become "Limbaugh/Beck/Palin," and the White House is responding defensively.
Beck made the cover of Time magazine, was one of Barbara Walters' "10 Most Fascinating People of 2009″ and makes an almost nightly appearance as one of Keith Olbermann's "Worst People in the World." (A great honor, no doubt.)
Probably no other broadcaster in any medium is as in tune with the feisty mood of the times. While other talk show hosts certainly connect with the Tea Partiers, and I'm sure the vast majority of them listen to Limbaugh and watch a certain amount of Hannity, no media figure has the direct connection to the Tea Party dissidents that Glenn Beck enjoys. No one.
Only Sarah Palin gets that kind of love from the crowds that have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shaking in fear, and making up wild accusations on the while the cameras roll.
In his rookie year on live television, Beck has the White House reeling. He already has two major scalps dangling from his lance—self-proclaimed communist Van Jones, the green jobs czar, and White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, a devout fan of Maso Tse-Tung.
Leftist Cass Sunstein, the proposed "Regulatory Czar" who puts animal rights on a par with human rights, and Keith Jennings, a pedophilic Activist ironically named as Obama's "Safe Schools Czar," are also in his sights. While Breitbart deserves the lion's share of the credit if ACORN goes down, no one has supplied more context on the community activist/con job organization and its tentacles into the Obama a Administration than Beck.
So where does Beck go from here? His meteoric rise in 2009 will be a tough act to follow. He obviously cannot again increase his TV audience tenfold — that would put him in "Who Shot J.R." territory. He has gained an audience and, for now, seems to be holding it.
The cheap and easy analysis would be to suppose that Beck's emotional approach will wear on the audience or he will burn out. However, as I learned when reviewing Beck's latest bestseller, Arguing with Idiots, (still sitting at No. 3 as of this writing), Beck's antics may draw people in, but there is a deep well of substance behind his act.
Beck, to be sure, is a performer and a showman. He takes risks, and enough of them pay off to make up for his small mistakes. Beck is attuned to the times, perfectly situated to benefit from the Obama backlash. However, he has the substance for the long haul.
Whether 2010 is another Year of the Beck, or not, it is poised to be a comeback year for conservatism. If it is, then Glenn Beck will have been a major part of the reason — and my bet is that is what will matter most to him.