Glenn Beck Reborn?

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For a reactionary, often ranting, talk-radio personality, Glenn Beck is unusually genial. I’m not talking about his off-air personality–even the vicious Michael Savage can come off as avuncular away from the microphone.

But whereas Rush Limbaugh’s or Bill O’Reilly’s on-air delivery is bombastic, or Sean Hannity affects a tone of haughty righteousness, Beck is strangely affable–even when he’s saying vile things about immigrants or Hillary Clinton.

I think it has to do with the extent to which he tends to air his own faults–his prior substance abuse, his divorce. Shtick is shtick, but his self-deprecation has a whiff of authenticity.

Now, here he is in a new YouTube video, really letting it all hang out as he recovers from an apparently botched operation that, apparently, nearly killed him. Unshaven and lying down with the camera tight on his face, he talks vaguely about his eye-opening run-in with American health care. He talks about the learning the meaning of compassion (though he doesn’t say what it is) and appears close to tears as he recounts how his wife’s love "saved his soul" when he was "full-fledged suicidal" from pain medication.

So can we expect a new Glenn Beck when he returns to radio and his Headline News show on Monday? When I profiled Beck last year, his boss at Premiere Radio Networks, Kraig Kitchin, noted that Beck–who’s been sober since 1995 and converted to Mormonism–"very openly talks about how this is his second try in life." Is he about to begin a third?

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