The point, it seemed to me, was that politics isn’t all there is to life, there is something slightly off about those who think it is, and that political ideology has come to define us culturally and personally far too much. So this wasn’t an angry rally for the alienated Democratic left; or even a joyous rally like last fall’s March for Equality; or a desperate and frustrated rally like the Tea Partiers. No one was demanding their country back; they were just demanding, well asking, for a little less polarization, and a little more mutual understanding. It was an Obama rally that didn’t want to be an Obama rally. And it was only an Obama rally sotto voce because he seems currently the only adult in Washington with any interest in compromising with anyone.
Slate’s Christopher Beam:
Turns out the political rally is a ripe form for satire. And while not all the jokes hit, Saturday’s show was faithful to the format, down to a “Benediction,” a lame poetry reading, and cheesy musical numbers. (“The Star Spangled Banner” went wisely unmocked.) Tim Meadows guested as a shyster trying to hawk janky rally memorabilia. Stewart and Colbert handed out awards for calmness and fear-mongering, respectively. They even took on media coverage of rallies. “There are two options for reporting on a rally,” Stewart said. “It was either a tremendous success or horrendous failure.” Cut to Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac filing a jingoistic snow job that celebrated real Americans coming together while Jason Jones delivered a paranoid hit piece underplaying attendance. Stewart thus managed to mock the very media tropes that could be used to cover his own rally.
Stewart has always walked the line between irony and sincerity. He’s a jokester, but he cares about political discourse, if not the minutiae of policymaking. The rally was a three-hour exploration of that tension. Every time the tone threatened to get mawkish, a gag swooped in to undercut it. Just as the eyeballs started the roll as the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens sang “Peace Train,” Ozzie Osbourne intervened with “Crazy Train.”
Didn’t really hear rally content, but met some nice folks with funny signs after separating from the hipsterati.
…Perhaps the smugness of the ralliers is only exceeded by the smugness of the political media coverage of the rally?
I was left cold by the fuzziness of the event. It could have been great; instead of embracing an apolitical perspective and saying nothing at all about values, it could have been a rally for moderation that emphasized the actual values that moderates hold: we believe in tolerance for people of different ethnicities and religious views and sexual preferences, we believe in building an egalitarian social and economic infrastructure, we believe in privacy and personal freedoms, etc., etc., etc., and they could have held to the theme of the rally by advocating rational argument and unified, organized activism within the system to advance those goals…but they didn’t. There was no purpose given other than a generic insistence that we all get along nicely. And to what end, I ask?
The question wasn’t answered. All we need is the right tone, apparently.
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