Some critics called it Whitestock, but that's not the story here. Most Republican meetings are overwhelmingly white. Despite demographic trends, this also remains the reality of America.
No, there's a deeper truth about this gathering that should give mainstream Republicans pause. That is its cause.
As Beck himself noted, he thought about making this an economic call, but he instead made a social call. His shows and his stands over the last six months have all emphasized social issues, the most divisive on the agenda. Even the claim to be "reclaiming Civil Rights" was a tell in this regard.
But it wasn't a black-white tell. It was a movement tell. Beck is not of the Tea Party. He's of the Taliban party.
This should not be a surprise, but with his earlier emphasis on economic issues it will be to some observers. It shouldn't be a surprise because Beck has always been aligned with the American Taliban. Mormonism is less about belief than about actions, less about what you say than about what you do. Conformity was bred deep into Glenn Beck, and conformity is what those who followed him to Washington are most interested in.
Fact is, black and brown and Indian and Muslim and gay and young and secular Americans don't fit into Glenn Beck's America. There is no place for them there. There is no place for the majority of Americans in Glenn Beck's America, unless we wish to deny our nature.
This has always frightened the Wall Street crowd. Their alliance with the Religious Right has always been tendentious, and arms-length. This is also a problem for the Cheneyite militarists, who know that a "clash of civilizations" is more difficult to win if America is seen as being merely a Christian version of what Bin Laden is selling.
In the last crisis period, Nixon had neutered the anti-war crowd by this time, bringing out the troops. Tin soldiers and Nixon came, we were finally on our own, and most (except for a violent fringe) gave up on politics. Obama is the opposite of Nixon. He is letting the Right's violence discredit itself while doing nothing to counter it.
What the President is doing may be seen as more akin to what Roosevelt did, standing between Communism and Fascism, opposing both while creating social programs large enough to prevent unrest, but not large enough to solve the underlying problem of unemployment. In this case Barack Obama is standing between Christian Absolutism (which now has Jewish Absolutist allies) and Muslim Absolutism, and that's just the right place to stand.
Because Glenn Beck represents the former. That strain of American thought is not gone. It remains strong. RU-486 didn't kill it, gay marriage didn't kill it, even Terry Schiavo didn't kill it. It is, despite the nice clothes, the most personally frightening part of the Right Wing coalition, which is why even George W. Bush kept his distance (when it tried to interfere in foreign affairs or economic policy).
While the timing was a bit off, this event may go down as the Right's Altamont. Anyone who peers inside what was said, what was implied and what was sought is either going to be enraptured or appalled, and most will be appalled.
So who's Mick Jagger now?
Glenn Beck is. (Picture from the Golden Age of Rock.)