David Weigel writes in Slate today that some Democrats are miffed by the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert "dueling" rallies in Washington, D.C., scheduled for the weekend before the election. I’m not going to lose any sleep over the poor Dems having get-out-the-vote issues, but there is something about the rally that has been bugging me.
When Stewart announced the rally on his show last week , he made fun of truthers and birthers, those who compare Obama to Hitler and those who compare Bush to Hitler. It seemed to be a genuine plea for the return of moderation in this country. And as a boring, squishy moderate, I thought, "Wow, finally, something for ME to get excited about." But just as I was about to nod off for the night, Colbert came out and announced his "March to Keep the Fear Alive," and I got confused.
Stewart and Colbert are both talented and they’ve had great success doing the fake news, but they are very different. Jon Stewart is Jon Stewart. He’s liberal, but he wears his heart on his sleeve. And he seems to know that there are at least sometimes Republicans watching. (He’s had considerable fun with Obama, Charlie Rangel, and-last night- a hypocritical union .) Stephen Colbert plays a character that happens to be named Stephen Colbert, and it’s a mocking, often sneering satire of a conservative talk show host. While his primary mission is to mock Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, his jabs often hit all conservatives. Which leads me to wonder what this rally is all about anyhow. Is Stewart’s "Rally To Restore Sanity" just that? If so, is the "March To Keep Fear Alive" going to mock everyone on the fringe, or just the Tea Party? And who is it going to attract besides the smuggest of liberals?
Lisa Morales provides some interesting background in the Washington Post . The application for the permit for the rally (er, rallies?) was submitted by Comedy Central and two companies headed by members of the Clinton White House. Ahem.
Look, I doubt that there were millions of righties who heard about the Stewart rally and thought "Hey, cool," like I did. But it seems like if you’re going to have rally to celebrate the "80 percent or so" of Americans that don’t shout and scream and make political debate untenable, as Stewart described his mission, then you should be wary of immediately turning off half of them.
Photograph of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart by Brad Barket for Getty Images.