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“Rally to Restore Sanity” Effect

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So, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their rally to restore sanity on Saturday. There, Colbert continued to play the laughable foil to Stewart’s plea for reasonableness. By most estimates, over two-hundred thousand people attended, with thousands more turning away when they realized they couldn’t see or hear anything because of the size of the crowd.

The message throughout seemed to be pretty clear: that we need to act less out of fear and more out of reason, as well as work together as reasonable human beings who disagree with each other, rather than resorting to pointless name-calling and shouting down views we don’t agree with. Standard stuff, and absolutely impossible to argue against, no matter your politics.

Unless your politics are influenced by the paycheck you make from distorting politics.

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann tweeted, “It wasn’t a big shark but Jon Stewart jumped one just now with the “everybody on cable is the same” naiveté”. He followed it up with a couple of tweets that said, essentially, we can’t be reasonable because if we are then the loony right takes over with their looniness. Which is exactly the sort of attitude the rally was designed to contest. Olbermann, apparently, didn’t get the memo.

That not at all overblown slogan shows Keith is -clearly- above the fray.

So, it’s a good thing we have Fox News around to counter that sort of negativity designed for the sole purpose of dividing us, right?

Turns out, much to my surprise, not so much. Here are a few links to the story that was run Saturday by every major news outlet.

Fox News

You’ll note  (if you actually read them, otherwise you’re just taking my word for it) that the first two links are just identical copies of the AP report of the event. The Fox report borrows heavily from the AP report, and adds a whole lot of left-wing conspiracy to the mix. Here are some phrases unique to the Fox version of the report:


“Just three days before pivotal midterm elections, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert threw a “sanity” rally in the shadow of the Capitol that organizers insisted wasn’t about politics.”

“Some of the signs on display mocked Republicans who are expected to take control of the House Tuesday if not the Senate.”

“The event sought in part to be a counterpoint to the “Restoring Honor” rally in August by Glenn Beck, the Fox News commentator popular among conservatives and tea party supporters. Beck’s rally, which had strong religious overtones, drew some protests from civil rights supporters.”


And while the AP reported that most of the performers had links to Democratic causes, it also pointed out that none of them made any such statements during the rally. The Fox report only mentioned the connections, and left it up to their readers to decide if those performers were trying to sway voters.

But, that was just the work of a writer nobody’s ever heard of, right? So we shouldn’t really pay any attention to that, since I’m sure virtually no one read any of those reports any way. So, how about a Fox show actually talking about it. Cue the always reasonable crowd over at Fox & Friends:

*sigh* Okay, so… Gretchen Carlson thinks it’s unfortunate that two comedians are considered news people, and then either pretends to not know the name of the rally’s title and Colbert’s name, or displays a staggering ignorance of current events, since anyone this side of Jupiter has been inundated with news about both over the past few weeks and months. Yes, very unfortunate, Gretchen. Great news work. She also made a point of saying, “… he looks fancy in his nice suit, like he actually is a real news person,” with a snide chuckle. Which begs the question of what a comedian hosting a rally is supposed to look like.

Gretchen makes for a convincing human being in that fleshy meatsack.

Steve Doocy also made a point of saying that Stewart “tried to stir up the crowd… to vote.” Stewart never said anything at the rally about voting, and when asked at a post-rally press conference if he thought people should vote, he skirted the question and said only, “I think people should do what moves them, and that’s not my place to make that choice for them.” So bullshit, Steve. Thanks for playing the distortion game with us today, we’ll get you some lovely parting gifts.

So the immediate reaction from the media types was to get defensive to cover their own asses, or to discredit and distort what actually happened, perfectly living up to the very media-critical montages Colbert played for the crowd. But what about the politicians? Maybe they’ll be a little bit more reasonable in the days leading up to the election?

Democrats link Republican Candidates to Palin

Yeah, or I guess not.

The Democrats are trying to make Sarah Palin a big part of many senate races and local congressional races. Because, apparently a vote for any Republican is a vote for Palin. Is that the message? Or is it that Sarah Palin is so bad, that if she stands next to a candidate, her awfulness must surely rub off on them? I’m not really following the logic here, but its purpose is very clear. A lot of people don’t like Palin, so if the Dems can make an emotional connection in the minds of voters between the Republican they might be voting for and Palin, they are less likely to vote Republican.

But the Democrats certainly aren’t alone in this silly endeavor. My favorite quote from the above story comes from Nachama Soloveichik, someone with no sense of irony, and a communications director for Congressional candidate Pat Toomy, a Republican out of Pennsylvania. Said Soloveichik: “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s Sestak trying to run away from his own record of voting with Nancy Pelosi nearly 100 percent of the time.”

So, the message from Republicans is clear: Democrats’ efforts to tie Republican candidates’ image to Sarah Palin is absolutely absurd. And was probably all Nancy Pelosi’s idea. You don’t like Nancy Pelosi, do you America? Then why would you vote for these people that are just like her!

Female leaders: They'll polarize the SHIT out of your politics.

And then I start to cry a little.

But, wait. There’s one more bastion of hope. Maybe the people of this country, the ones who Stewart and Colbert were really reaching out to, maybe they took the message of the Rally to Restore Sanity to heart.

And then I read the comment section of that very same story, and see such wonderfully classless insult-trading going on, such wonderful efforts to toe the party line without the slightest bit of thought from both sides, and racist slurs for Obama, sexist ones for Palin and Pelosi, and I think to myself…

Yeah, that.

So, what is the result of the Rally to Restore Sanity? Well, it was pretty funny for the most part, so there’s that. And otherwise? Well, nothing really. People don’t like the idea of civility nearly as much as being right. The people that were most drawn to this event were people that didn’t need to be told our world of politics wasn’t civil, or that the twenty-four hour news blows things out of proportion. The people that did need to be told that didn’t much care, as they are wont to do.

It’s a shame that the most touching, apolitical rally put on in this age had to come from two comedians (even if they did look fancy in their nice suits), but it’s an even bigger shame that its message will go largely unheralded.



Written by oobiedoo

November 2, 2010 at 12:31 am

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