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October 30, 2010

Somewhat Restoring Sanity

This shot seemed to best capture the tone of a very uneven, not-very-focused and not-all-that funny rally.  Of course, Jon Stewart had an extremely difficult task  striking a tone that took hate to task without being guilty of the same. There was an opportunity (interspersed with the shtick), however, to have several eloquent statesmen and women put hate in perspective, and that opportunity was lost. Given the hard times (as opposed to “the end of times,” as differentiated by Stewart in what were credible closing remarks), this rally needed to be far cleverer in order to hug the high road while, at the same time, achieve ironic impact. In the end, unfortunately, there was too much weak SNL, too much “somewhat,” and too much of Stewart and Colbert protecting their Comedy Central brand for this restoration rally to be remembered past Monday.

image: Gawker

  • Gerry Desrosiers

    I attended the rally, though I was out at the far reaches of the scrum. What’s significant was that there was an enormous crowd — I’d estimate a couple of hundred thousand (based on my experiences at the traditional July 4th extravaganzas on te Mall). It greatly exceeded the size of Beck’s rally (Metro station crowds being another good comparison). Many people seemed to want the rally to be a visceral response to Beck, no matter what went on onstage.

    Many/most of us couldn’t see or hear much of Stewart and Colbert, but there was solidarity in the crowd itself. It felt like an Obama rally without Obama — which is probably a good thing. It indicates that there is a movement that can go on, whether or not there’s a leader figure.

    I was disappointed in NPR’s reporting of a crowd of “tens of thousands” (MANY tens of thousands is more accurate) and their inclusion of some polling drivel about the country being evenly divided over whether Obama should be re-elected. But there was good feeling at the event itself. Stewart, whether intentionally or not, gave us a rallying point — not for rallying to him, but for rallying to the sense of hope we had two years ago (and that most of us retain to this day).

    • bystander

      Wow. Thanks for this.

      there is a movement that can go on, whether or not there’s a leader figure

      Stewart, whether intentionally or not, gave us a rallying point

      Your thoughts are insightful and oddly reassuring. Makes me wonder what history has in store for us around the corner. what if Obama were merely the “warm up act”?

      Thanks for your view of the event.

    • Michael Shaw


      I appreciate your comments too. They closely echo what I heard from Alan Chin this afternoon who was photographing the event for Newsweek. I’ll try and get a post together of some of his words and images.

  • jmac

    The “tens of thousands” might have come from the # Arianna bussed in (supposedly around 10,000). My husband (67) and daughter (38) were there (from Texas) and had a wonderful time. They couldn’t get on the metro even after three tries and ended up walking.

    Favorite sign: Dear Dad – Just Because You Saw It on The Internet
    Doesn’t Make It True.

  • tinwoman

    The crowd was estimated to be over a quarter of a million by the same agency that counted Beck’s crowd with aerial photos (and the number they came up with was some 80,000). In other word’s Stewart’s rally was three times the size of Beck’s, conservatively.

  • momly

    I really don’t think Jon intended for us to get fired up. Gerry is right, he gave reasonable people a place to focus and we did. With or without leadership.

    The best part of the day was walking up to total strangers and striking up conversations – about what was on their sign, where they were from, laughing together as if we had known each other for a while when in fact we had just met.

    It was a wonderful exercise in being human.

    • momly

      I forgot to add, I’ll remember this for a long time and I suspect so will the people who went. The only people who will forget are those who wanted this to be something more than it was or who dismissed it in the first place.

  • gulati

    From all accounts, the Sanity rally seemed contrived but wholesome, whereas the Restore rally seemed wholesome but contrived.

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