Glenn Beck Cleans Up the National Mall

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 12 2013 1:21 PM

Glenn Beck Cleans Up the National Mall

Inside the Capitol, starting at 9 a.m., both parties were working through the details of possible deals to end the government shutdown and raise the debt limit. Right outside, starting at 10 a.m., Tea Party organizers were rallying a hundred or so activists for an impromptu custodial job on the Mall. The word had gone out Friday: Come by, bring yard equipment, don't bring signs.

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Some Republicans left their meetings to come straight to the rally. Sen. Mike Lee, one of the good soldiers of the defund campaign, was met by Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Steve King, and Rep. Louie Gohmert. Separated from the crowd by a triangular barricade, they talked strategy—I heard Bachmann warn Lee that, in the House Republican meeting, they'd been told that the president would "try to break the Republicans" by getting a deal out of the Senate.

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The politicking took place separate from the rally and cleanup job. Quite a few volunteers really did bring gear with them.

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And after a short speech in which he compared Sen. Charles Sumner's anti-slavery advocacy and crippling caning to the Cruz/Lee stand against Obamacare, Beck sort of pied-piper'd the Tea Partiers onto the Mall, marching up to the World War II Memorial. He and Lee cleaned up trash themselves as cameras clicked and whirred.

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Halfway down the route, a volunteer tossed some crud away then noticed a shutdown sign atop the garbage. Beck hustled over, pulled out the sign, posed with it, and then announced he would keep it "for the museums."

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It's been that kind of day.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.