Conservative Hero in White House Faces Off With Beck

Beck is targetting a White House appointee beloved by conservatives and loathed by the far left

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When does it matter how a mid-level financial regulator feels about hunting? It matters when that regulator's job includes the word "czar" and draws the ire of Glenn Beck. Beck, running high after the sacking of green jobs "czar" Van Jones, has turned his sights on Cass Sunstein, Obama's appointed but not yet serving "regulatory czar." But Sunstein is not Jones, who lost his job over his signing of a "9/11 truth" petition in 2004. It turns out that Sunstein has long been praised by many conservative pundits, who see the regulator as their man in the White House. As Beck pushes hard against Sunstein's appointment, he risks trampling his ideological allies and spurring the conservative infighting over Sunstein already under way. After all, the biggest opponents of Sunstein's appointment have been liberal.

  • Beck's Case Against Cass Sunstein  Above, watch a typical clip from Glenn Beck's Fox News show arguing against Cass Sunstein. Beck and his guest suggested Sunstein has such radical views as banning pets and milk, infanticide of mentally disabled children, and letting animals argue in court. On Twitter, Beck referred to "his anti-hunting & "animals should be able 2 sue" beliefs." In language implying he feared a massive government cover-up was underway, Beck also told his followers, "FIND EVERYTHING YOU CAN ON CASS SUNSTEIN, MARK LLOYD AND CAROL BROWNER. Do not link before burning to disc." Since then, the PAC-funded website Stop Sunstein has made similar accusations.
  • The Conservative Case for Cass Sunstein  Many conservatives have supported Sunstein since his appointment was announced in January. The Wall Stree Journal editorial board wrote a lengthy endorsement of Sunstein's "promise," "important qualifications" who was a "savvy choice." Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds wrote in Forbes, "The Sunstein appointment shows that the Obama Administration is perhaps willing to look at new and less intrusive approaches to regulation, something that should make almost everyone (except, perhaps, a few lawyers with investments in business as usual) happy." Eugene Volokh called him "brilliant, thoughtful, and ideologically probably as good as 'libertarianish/conservativish' people like me can hope for from the new administration." David Weigel reports that Glenn Reynolds still endorses Sunstein's nomination and that conservative blogger Ed Morrissey said, "[I] don’t think that he presents a good target for Republicans to attack." Julian Sanchez criticized those who made Sunstein the "new hot bogeyman for conservatives," a man whose work "conservatives should love."
  • The Liberal Case Against Cass Sunstein  The appointee's biggest critics have been on the left. John Quiggin of the super liberal blog Crooked Timber wrote of Beck's anti-Sunstein campaign, "Sunstein would be no loss, either intellectually or as regards the progressive cause." When Sunstein was nominated, the Center for Progressive Reform condemned him as "not much different" than his Bush-era predecessor and encouraged congressional liberals to have a tough confirmation. He has been debated by Glenn Greenwald and harshly criticized by a number of lefty bloggers for, among other things, rejecting prosecution of Bush officials and supporting the conservative-endorsed FISA bill. He has been called a "moral vacuum," a "disingenuous" "creep" who "can not be trusted" and much much more. Sunstein retains, however, big fans among moderate liberals, especially those at The New Republic, where he has penned dozens of articles over two decades.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.