In this week’s New Haven Advocate, I’ve got an essay on Glenn Beck-as-author, disguised as a dispatch from his latest simulcast book event. Through his radio and television shows, Beck can deliver huge sales boosts to obscure political treatises and to mass-market thrillers — and this gets at what the publishing industry calls his “platform.” It’s why he sells books. But why does he write them? I come to a pretty cynical conclusion in my essay, but other explanations do exist. Still, Beck’s books don’t fit with his off-the-cuff nature. At the book event, he turned a Primanti Brothers sandwich, a Pittsburgh delicacy made up of beef, french fries, and cole slaw, into a metaphor for America’s budget crisis. This metaphor allowed Beck one of his few Obama attacks — he introduced the sandwich as “Michelle Obama’s worst nightmare” — but it also reveals how, um, adaptable he can be. It seems Beck didn’t call Primanti Brothers until six hours before the show. He ordered 300 sandwiches.
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