On Saturday, I woke up at 4 a.m., waited in 44-degree cold for two hours, traveled 11 hours round-trip on a bus to watch half a rally — and, considering where I was standing, “watch” is a strong word.
If this is America’s idea of restoring sanity, pass me a straitjacket.
With his “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., funnyman Jon Stewart hoped to turn the spotlight on reasonable, moderate Americans who are drowned out by the loud, angry political commentators who dominate the airwaves these days.
Even before arriving in Washington, I discovered that Stewart had attracted just the type of people he hoped to. Many of the 200 free buses The Huffington Post provided for 10,000 people to travel from New York to the rally arrived late. (I made it there one hour, 40 minutes after it started.)
It appeared to be the perfect opportunity for people to get ticked off, to get loud. Right?
“This isn’t their job,” Bonnie Gutz, 26, of midtown, said, defending The Huffington Post organizers. “They’re not used to this.”
“It’s hard to be mad,” said Mary Klovekorn, 50, of Nutley, N.J. “I think the delays are because of the huge amount of support.”
Think about it: If a free bus to Glenn Beck’s rally had been late … wait, that would never happen. That might be considered welfare.
While the program on stage, co-hosted by Stephen Colbert, strived to be nonpartisan, there were plenty of left-leaning signs in the estimated crowd of 150,000. Yet, moderation still reigned supreme.
One sign read, “The rent is moderately high.”
One young man yelled to passersby: “Vote for whoever you want to.”
And my favorite sign screamed, “Meh!”
“The image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false,” Stewart said near the rally’s conclusion. “It is us through a fun-house mirror.”
For three hours Saturday, Stewart ensured that wasn’t the case.