Rally to restore Irony

Will Wilkinson writes that Peter Beinart’s critique of Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity “cuts deep…when he observes that the focus on ‘sanity’ is demeaning to the tea-party movement and its sympathisers, and reflects the left’s failure to engage broad swathes of the electorate by arguing for the liberal agenda in terms of liberty.”

(As a side note, this reminds me of Ned Resnikoff’s post on this very subject of reclaiming the language of liberty from the right.)

Side-stepping the larger debate about liberty and the left (I think this is largely a failure of language rather than policy, at least here in the US of A), I would simply point out that Stewart’s rally was intentionally ironic, and that extends to the title of the rally itself which Beinart finds so arrogant. Stewart’s closing speech takes pains to point out that actually most people aren’t raving lunatics, that so much of the insanity we read about or hear about is simply a concoction of a media which promotes a portrait of America as constantly in conflict, hyperbolic and afraid and ready at any point to boil over, an elaborate reality show carefully edited to present an illusion of craziness that simply doesn’t exist (at least to that extent) in most of the population.

I only watched that speech, but as far as I could tell the rally wasn’t attempting to somehow juxtapose itself with the Tea Party and show how sane and rational Daily Show liberals are in comparison to their crazy Tea Party counterparts. I could be wrong, but I think the main focus of Stewart’s animus was, as usual, the media itself rather than any grassroots conservatives.

Whether or not Beinart and Wilkinson are right about the failure of the left to engage their agenda within the framework of liberty, that’s not really the point of the Stewart rally to begin with, and quite frankly it would have been sort of weird to hear Jon Stewart waxing poetic about liberty and freedom and such*. Now Colbert, on the other hand…

*(They could have called it The Rally to Restore Liberty and Tyranny.)

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12 thoughts on “Rally to restore Irony

  1. ” I think the main focus of Stewart’s animus was, as usual, the media itself rather than any grassroots conservatives.”

    #BINGO!!!

    I don’t understand how so many bright people have missed this. This was an anti-msm rally more than anything. I watched the last hour & a half. It basically was saying that journos & pundits on the whole aren’t doing their jobs (reporting IN DEPTH on important stories, providing insightful analysis, etc) but are just stoking fear & resentment.

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    • @TKOEd,

      Agreed.

      “I don’t understand how so many bright people have missed this.”

      I suspect many people who have a strong political opinion about The Daily Show have never really watched much of it, and I’m sure that the opinions of the rally are much the same.

      I love the satire of the show, and watch it on TIVO a few times a week. It’s odd to watch 2 or 3 episodes in a row that bang on the Dems, or the administration, and then read conservatives bemoan how Jon Stewart and crew are just a DNC lackey… or liberals cheer his anti-Fox bits, not apparently noticing that he spent more time skewering them.

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    • @TKOEd,

      “I don’t understand how so many bright people have missed this.”

      I think you’ll find those “bright people” are almost all members of the “country’s 24-hour-politico-pundit-perpetual-panic-confictinator” that Stewart spoke of in his closing remarks. They miss his point, because to understand his point would be self-incriminating.

      Actually, the degree to which a particular pundit misses his point seems to roughly correlate with how far out on the conflictinator scale they fall. Exhibit A: Glenn Beck stating today on his program that the Sanity rally had “the same message I gave on 8/28”. Exhibit B: Keith Olbermann didn’t like it either.

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      • @62across,

        One last point, riffing on what you just noted:

        I have noticed that whenever Stewart is on a pundit’s show (with the obvious exception of the now famous Tucker Carlson beat down), the host is always trying to walk that fine line between Genuine Concern and Pursed Lipped Total Dismissiveness about Stewart’s inability to stay in the pre-scripted pundit talking point box as he makes jokes about them and their network.

        But in the background, you can ALWAYS here the pundit’s staff and crew cracking up whenever Stewart makes his funniest digs.

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  2. Yeah I’ll second what TKOEd said. Neither Colbert or Stewart seem to be trying to equal or be a balance to the TP’s. They are against the stupifcation of the MSM and the overheated rhetoric we have fallen into. It’s really not all that subtle a point. To many people like hyperbole, i’m not referring to you Eric, so they just can’t see the clear message. Stewart obviously has preferences but tends towards being respectful with people who will honestly engage in ideas.

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    • @T. Greer,

      I like Hedges, but he totally misses the point. this statement for instance:

      “The celebrities from Comedy Central and the trash talk show hosts on Fox are in the same business. They are entertainers”

      Really Chris? Stewart & Colbert are entertainers? Who knew? I mean come on. They don’t try to be anything but that. Hedges was looking for something at that rally he was never going to get.

      This kind of analysis proves RTod right. I don’t think most of the critics of the rally have ever watched Stewart or Colbert’s shows regularly. If they did, they would not have expected more than what they got.

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