I missed this earlier, but another of Glenn Beck’s Saturday stunts rips from the classic annals of demagoguery:
Making a show of fear for one’s own safety dramatically conjures the specter of enemies, even if they don’t actually exist. This was, again, a stunt used to great effect by Augustus after he assumed sole mastery of Rome. When minting new Senators, to underscore the still-fresh memory of his adopted father’s death at the Body’s hands, and (by some interpretations) keep anger at the Senate alive, thus deferring the Republic’s restoration, the princeps conspicuously wore mail under his tunic, carried a sword, and was followed by bodyguards. See Suetonius, De Vita Caesarium, “Divi Augustus,” XXXV. That the demure father of his fatherland could still fear for his safety, after all the good he’d done, made the point better than any actual assassin could.
Similarly, Beck’s decision to flaunt his bulletproof vest speaks to paranoia and persecution but omits any reasonable basis to believe it, or a credible threat, exists. The classier — but riskier move — is to trust. One searches history in vain for any record of Obama, or any American president, wearing a bulletproof vest. Rumors that 44 wore a suit laced with bulletproof cloth are just that, and underscore rather than refute the point.