Bedford author loves the GOP, but Glenn Beck not so much
So moved was Charney – who runs a consulting firm with his wife in Bedford – that he decided to write a book about it, “Chasing Glenn Beck,” a humoristic rallying cry for a return to a more reasonable discourse on both ends of the political spectrum.
“I got into politics right around 1979,” said Charney, 54, who was raised a California Democrat. “I was in college at that time; it was during the Carter years, and it was pretty much a disaster.”
After a period of soul-searching, Charney found himself aligned with the conservative values of the GOP around 1980. Since that time – with President Ronald Reagan tripling the national debt and raising taxes nine times – he’s become increasingly critical of his party, most pointedly during its most recent incarnation.
“I have watched the Republican Party deteriorate rather sadly, probably since the late 1990s,” he said. “I remember listening to Rush Limbaugh 20 years ago, so that sort of (talk) was around then, but it wasn’t really as dominating.”
Charney views former Fox News host Glenn Beck as the symbol of that deterioration. Beck, who left the network in June 2011, drew the daily ire of liberals and moderate conservatives during his term there.
Charney decided to turn Beck on his head. By using what he sees as Beck’s methodology – including guilt by association and taking quotes out of context – he began using Twitter to accuse Beck of being a closet liberal, a radical leftist.
Under the Twitter hashtag @BeckIsALib, Charney wrote, “#GlennBeck said, ‘We should save the resources that we have left.’ Has he some concern about the #environment?”
This was among a multitude of tweets that he wrote during a three-month period of maligning the character, and contorting the words of Beck, who has turned to radio since leaving Fox.
“In some cases it was (Beck) quoting somebody else,” Charney said. “But it didn’t matter because the quote came out of his mouth.”
The book goes on to detail Charney’s forays into the “Twittersphere.” They were rocky at first, eliciting such epithets as “moron!” and “scumsucker!” amid calls to, “wake up, idiot!”
But his tweeting, which he documents in real time in the book, led him finally into the arena he was searching for – a moderate, respectful, reasonable dialogue.
“It’s hard to find that kind of conversation,” he said. “I was convinced, though, that it had to be out there somewhere.”
Charney’s critique of loud-mouthed media personalities doesn’t end with Beck. He also slams MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz, saying that under the sheen of logic and tolerance they employ subtle methods to twist reality in their favor.
“What’s the likelihood that you’re going to turn on any of those people and hear a point that you don’t expect them to make?” he asked. “How often does either side concede a point to the other?”
But being a Republican himself, Charney chose to focus the book on his comrades instead of those across the aisle. “You only hurt the ones you love, and I love the Republican Party and what it used to be,” he said.
In his view, that’s the GOP of Abraham Lincoln – and former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. He said he’s likely to vote for Mitt Romney in November, harboring the hope that he will return to the moderate he proved to be as Massachusetts governor.
Each week he tweeted on current events, finding Beck’s take on it before cutting into the controversial jockey with spins and humor. Woven throughout the book he tells of his childhood, his home life and his upbringing in a liberal household.
At one point he landed upon a sector of “Tweeps” he said shared his moderate views.
In one of the final tweets quoted in the book, Charney wrote, “I’m now using the term #consiberal: fiscally conservative and socially moderate, the way the party was for 150 years.”
One Twitter user proposed “modcon” as an alternative, and another said the correct term was “independent.”
Charney said that although his term “consiberal” didn’t take off as much as he’d hoped, he noted increased commentary from center-right Republicans like him.
“We’re out there after all,” he concludes in the book, “just as I suspected.”
In the midst of his work, Charney was asked to be on the editorial board of the Coffee Party, U.S.A., an organization formed in response to the Tea Party, which calls for civility in political life.
He hosts a radio show, The Middle Ground, each Tuesday at 8 p.m., for the Coffee Party.
The show’s web page is available at blogtalkradio.com/coffeepartyusa. Charney’s book, “Chasing Glenn Beck,” is on the shelves at the Toadstool Bookshops in Peterborough, Milford and Keene, as well as Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. It’s also available for Kindle and in paperback at Amazon.com.
“I want moderates to know there is a moderate community,” he said, “and that we can have an impact if we actually pay attention and get out and vote.”
For Charney, the most important season for this is primary season.
And with the New Hampshire primaries coming on Sept. 11, this Bedford scribe has a lot of work ahead of him.
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