rally to restore sanity

So, Has Sanity Been Restored?

Fun signs!

In case you hadn’t heard, hundreds of thousands of people headed to D.C. yesterday to hang out with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Arianna Huffington even led a fleet of buses there.

So what happened? Well:

People wore costumes. “One man wore only a diaper and a sombrero, and carried a large wooden anchor — a depiction of ‘an anchor baby,’ the name conservative talk show hosts have given to children born in the United States to immigrant parents … Some people donned faux Tea Party costumes, while others dressed as Harry Potter characters, robots and space aliens.” [NYT, NYDN]

Celebrities showed up. The tally, thus far: The Roots, John Legend, Tony Bennett, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, R2-D2, Cat Stevens, and Ozzy Osbourne. [Caucus/NYT, Gawker, Daily Intel]

The signs were creative. A sampling: “I wouldn’t presume to tell God who he hates,” “I was told there would be donuts,” “Don’t Believe Rally Signs,” “Obama is not a Muslim, but it would be okay if he was,” and “If Obama’s a Muslim, can we have Fridays off?” [TPM, Buzzfeed]

Some folks even wore T-shirts that read “I Love America” in Arabic. Aw. [Jezebel]

In total, around 215,000 people attended the rally yesterday, according to CBS. 87,000 showed up at Glenn Beck’s rally last summer, according to CBS. [CBS]

But was sanity restored to the U.S.? What was Stewart’s point, anyway? Did he save the Democratic party? What does it all mean!? Here’s what a bunch of other people observed:

Even without plugging specific politicians, the event was highly political. “Though at no point during the show did either man plug a political candidate, a strong current of political engagement coursed through the enormous crowd, which stretched several long blocks west of the Capitol … For many who came, the rally was an opportunity to take control of the political narrative, if only for one sunny Saturday afternoon. Participants, overwhelmingly liberal, wore political buttons, waved flags and carried signs, often with funny messages … But beyond the goofiness, the rally seemed to be channeling something deep - a craving to be heard and a frustration with the lack of leadership, less by President Obama than by a Democratic Party that many participants described as timid, fearful, and failing to stand up for what they see as the president’s accomplishments.” [NYT]

But, Jon Stewart still can’t save the Democrats in midterm elections. “Democrats hoped Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity Saturday would provide the kick in the pants needed to fire up unenthusiastic young voters just three days before the midterms. It didn’t. The event was a comedic success. A gargantuan crowd loved the live music and lapped up the satirical repartee between Stewart and sidekick Stephen Colbert. But Stewart’s decision to avoid explicit partisan politicking denied the left a kind of galvanizing moment that might have driven to the polls his Democratic fans who weren’t already planning to vote or motivated previously apathetic liberals to grass-roots activities.” [Politico]

Jeff Jarvis felt ashamed to be a journalist. “Media took most of his barbs and for good reason. I must confess that I came away feeling a bit ashamed to be a member of the media and journalism tribe. Stewart and Colbert rightfully castigated us. Oh, yes, they aimed mostly at cable news. But the rest of us in the news business are not blameless. We, too, monetize fright. When we in the press included TV and cable news people in our journalistic club and rejected bloggers and citizens, we legitimized them. When we don’t repudiate their ways, we excuse them. Shame on all of us.” [BI]

Arianna Huffington said the rally was really “against demonizing your opponents.” “The rally was not against partisanship as such. It was against demonizing your opponents. He said specifically in his speech at the end - which I though was magnificent - of course we’ll have animus, of course we’ll have disagreement, but we don’t have to turn each other into enemies.” [HuffPo]

Gawker had nice things to say. Sort of. “Really, so many people, and such a positive atmosphere. Jon Stewart has a lot to be proud of. It makes all of those stupid pundit columns of the last week criticizing Stewart for ‘blurring the line between comedy and political advocacy’ even stupider.” [Gawker]

The Washington Post thinks the rally failed to help liberal politics. “Stewart can pretend all he wants that the point of his big rally Saturday was just for chuckles, or just to encourage a more reasonable, substantive and civil tone in American politics. The reality is that his own audience was decidedly partisan and decidedly liberal. I say it’s self-defeating and even delusional to think progressive policies are going to be achieved just by agitating nobly for a more positive style in politics. It isn’t enough to have a few laughs or wring your hands over the fact that those mean people in the tea party and at Fox News get too angry and yell too much.” [WP]

The Wall Street Journal believes the rally proved the significance of media figures in politics. “The Stewart/Colbert event highlighted the unusual role that media figures are playing in the 2010 election cycle. Though Messrs. Stewart and Colbert portray themselves as nonpartisan entertainers, their parody of the news drew legions of liberal fans during the presidency of George W. Bush. Likewise, Fox News host Glenn Beck is the inspiration for many conservative tea-partiers opposed to President Barack Obama.” [WSJ]

In the end, Jon Stewart was moved. “Sanity will always be in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “To see you here today and the kind of people that you are, has restored mine.’” [Daily Intel]

Check out the man of the hour’s closing remarks:

Related: Sanity Reigns in Jon Stewart’s America [Daily Intel]

So, Has Sanity Been Restored?