Earlier this year I revealed the title of Glenn Beck's coming thriller and now the long-awaited publication of The Overton Window is upon us, with the publisher pulling out all the stops. There's an already much-talked-about prologue now online, and they've even released something you don't normally see for a book -- a video trailer (at the bottom of the post).
The screen is filled with poetry, and with words that are alternately jarring or literary -- for the most part words that long-time listeners would not expect to come from the self-proclaimed "rodeo clown" of a right-wing media phenomenon. One exception does sound very Beck-ian, however -- the part where "the dog returns to its vomit."
But the words are very much not written by Glenn Beck. They are from the poem "The Gods of the Copybook Headings," by Britain's iconic Rudyard Kipling. Most viewers of the trailer -- based on the comments that I've read in a couple of online postings -- have no idea that this is a Kipling poem, nor would they, since the famed bard of the turn of the 20th Century is never credited.
Kipling's words are no longer under copyright, of course, and you can argue whether it's a form of plagiarism, since it's probably unlikely that many viewers would think that Beck himself actually wrote the poem (again, except for the part about the dog vomit). Still, if I were fortunate enough to get a slickly produced trailer for a book, I'd want it to include words that I'd actually written -- but that's just me.
By the way, the choice of the poem does say something about Beck, who is borne ceaselessly back into 1919, the year that "The Gods of the Copybook Headings," around the time that -- in Beck's also-fictionalized history of America -- Woodrow Wilson and the progressive movement were destroying everything good and decent about America (like, um, rancid meat-packing factories...). Written by Kipling as he grieved over the loss of a son in World War I -- an event that makes Beck look sane in comparison -- it is a favorite of conservatives who see it as a warning against the totalitarianism rising in Russia and elsewhere.
Of course, the real problem comes when you try to wrap those 91-year-old concerns around the actual issues that America faces in 2010, which have nothing to do with Lenin and Trotsky, but that is the slight of hand that Beck and his ilk do not want you to see.