A rally for moderation, the alleged point of Stewart's rally, is contradictory. A rally is an extreme act, only those who feel strongly about something come out to rallies. Imagine a group of people rioting in the streets because they're angry about the lack of compromise in Congress, it just seems odd. People aren't passionate about compromise and toning down rhetoric. If Stewart gets a lot of people out to his rally, it's not because people agree that we need to turn down the heat in politics. That's something people may agree with and vote for but they don't demonstrate for it and they don't take 4 hour bus rides to Washington to voice their support for it. I may attend the rally, but certainly not in support of the ostensive "restore sanity" objective, I believe the left is far too meek and soft-spoken as it is.So, it's simply about satire, right? Well, again, that seems a bit strange to me. A satire is making fun of things and, by definition, doesn't take what it's mocking or itself terribly seriously. There's a reason all those spoof action movies are done with cheap production values and inexpensive actors -- you're not satirizing something if the cost and effort of the satire is greater than or equal to the cost of that which you're mocking. If you're hiring Sir Laurence Olivier (I know, he's dead), you're not making a spoof movie anymore and If you're taking a four hour bus ride to Washington and setting up porta-potties and negotiating with the Park Service, you're not doing satire anymore. A satire would have been an impromptu in Central Park two days later with Jon Stewart leading a bunch of goofy New Yorkers carrying funny signs. This feels far too earnest and lacking in spontaneity.
So I think the Saturday rally is nothing more nor less than a big fat "fuck you" to Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. But it's not light satire, it's as serious as a heart attack or at least severe chest pain. I think that's fine, some sort of standing up to Beck may be prudent, guffawing at him from the peanut gallery hasn't stemmed his incendiary rhetoric. But, insofar as this has become a serious rally, whether or not there is a comparably sized crowd becomes an important issue. Secondly, as Tucker Carlson argued long ago on that now defunct CNN show, Jon Stewart isn't just a court jester anymore and he loses the appearance of being somewhat above the fray or at least beside the fray. If we had to sacrifice Stewart to get an effective response to Beck and his ilk, it's totally worth it, I guess. But now, if we fail to match him in terms of numbers and passion on Saturday, maybe we've only provided fuel to the craziness.
ETA: Great quote from Stewart himself that more succintly makes the point I'm trying to make in the second paragraph: "Nobody's going to march in the streets with a sign going 'be reasonable!" - Jon Stewart (h/t hypatiaslore )