Crazy or shrewd?

The few times I’ve watched his show, heard him on the radio or seen clips of him online, the question that I always ask myself when I’m exposed to Glenn Beck is this: Is he certifiably insane or is he playing a role that he knows will make him rich?

I go back and forth on the question. Watch this clip, starting about a minute in, and the vote is clear: The man is a raving lunatic. The bit “works” because you have wonder if he isn’t actually crazy enough to pour gas on someone and then light them on fire.

But then I see all the books he’s publishing, all of which seem to sell pretty well to his large, though shrinking audience, and I hear the ads on his show for buying gold and stocking up on end-day supplies, and I think he’s crazy like a fox. He’s cashing in as quick as he can while he can, cynically manipulating his gullible, conspiracy-loving audience, playing them like a fiddle while he empties their wallets.

I guess, unless he actually ever lights someone on fire during a broadcast or something else equally insane, we’ll never know which is the real Glenn Beck. And with Fox News allegedly growing weary of his ever-expanding paranoia (liberals collaborating with radical Islamists? Give me a break) and thinking about dumping him when his contract’s up in December, he may never get the opportunity to do something truly nuts on national tv. Still, if I had to bet, I’d bet he’s cackling madly all the way to the bank.

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