Beck is the new hotness in the world of O'Reilly-Hannity-esque shrieking TV windbags; a former drug addict who is a late convert to Mormonism, Beck's shtick is that he's a conservative but not a Republican, allowing him to claim a kind of objectivity while he does things like fantasize about murdering Michael Moore and call Michael Berg's dad a "scumbag." His TV come-on is part comic, part carnival barker, and one if his favorite themes is End Times -- he's a strong believer in the literal second coming of Jesus and, between cornball jokes, never wastes any opportunity to remind his audience that the end is nigh.But there is much more.
There have been indications lately that this whole End Times business is fast becoming more than a crazy hobby among the mutant-evangelist set, and is actually playing an important role in Middle East politics, specifically in guiding America's Israel policy.The "end times" and foreign policy.
End Times had its coming-out party in the mainstream media via a now-notorious editorial penned in the Wall Street Journal on August 8 by former Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis. In it, Lewis posited that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was planning a "cataclysmic event" on August 22 (the same date Beck was focused on), because that was the date that corresponded, on the Islamic calendar, with the 27th day of Rajab of the year 1427, said to be the date when Muhammad flew on a winged horse to heaven and back.
That seemed to start the ball rolling on the Aug. 22nd front. From there, a whole host of ostensibly serious commentators started appearing on American television braying horrible warnings about the coming end of the world. Worse still, some of them claimed real ties with the White House. Chief among those was probably John Hagee, a San Antonio pastor whose End Times credentials have already been reported in many outlets (among others, by Sarah Posner of Alternet).Are you frightened yet? You should be. We have an intellectually incurious President with serious mental health issues being advised by Christians who are every bit as nutty as the nuttiest Islamic mad man. This is combined with a Vice President who is for "end times" for purely secular reasons.
The significance of Hagee is that he chairs a group called Christians United For Israel (CUFI) which believes that the U.S. must unite to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran to precipitate Armageddon, followed by the more desirable Second Coming of Jesus. Hagee would be just another sweating evangelist lunatic if it weren't for the fact that his group has the ear of the White House. RNC chair Ken Mehlman took time out from bashing Ned Lamont to speak at CUFI's inaugural banquet in Washington in July, and both Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum also addressed the group. Meanwhile, Hagee at the banquet reportedly read out greetings from Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush himself, who apparently said, "God Bless and stand by the people of Israel and God Bless the United States."
If that weren't scary enough, the Washington Post on August 4th published a story by Dan Froomkin suggesting that a certain Joel C. Rosenberg, another prominent subscriber to the Aug. 22nd theory, had been invited to the White House. Rosenberg told Froomkin that he had spoken to a "couple dozen" White House aides on February 10, 2005, and had been in touch with some of them ever since. Rosenberg said the meeting came after an unnamed White House staffer called him and said "A lot of people over here are reading your novels" -- novels which presumably include the recent The Ezekiel Option, which is about, God help us, a White House staffer who urges a highly religious president to bomb Russia and bring about the End of Everything.
Taibbi goes on to describe Rosenberg's book in all of it's insane detail. Yes a book that is a big hit in the White House. The GWOT has become a battle between Christian lunatics and Islamic lunatics and as a result the "end times" may become a self fulfilling prophecy.