According to the man in charge of Democratic House campaigns this election year, Glenn Beck's rally at the Lincoln Memorial Saturday was indeed a political event, despite Beck's claims to the contrary.
Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland congressman who heads the Democratic Party's House campaign arm, led off a fundraising e-mail to supporters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last night with this appeal to fight back (with donations) against Beck's politics:
It's no coincidence that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin had their big tea party rally right as the fall campaign season kicks into high gear. Now, all eyes are on us to see how we respond.
The e-mail followed similar comments from Van Hollen the day before Beck's rally. During a press briefing at the National Press Club, a reporter asked Van Hollen what he made of Beck's claim that the rally wouldn't be political. He responded:
It's blatantly political. I mean, come on. You've seen Glenn Beck and a lot of the talk-show hosts on Fox News out there talking about this election over the last 15 months, since the day President Obama was elected president, [on a] tirade against the president against Democratic efforts to get the economy turned around. So let's call it what it is. It's a blatant political effort.
Having gone to the rally, I can tell you that it actually wasn't political, at least not overtly. Glenn Beck never mentioned President Obama or any government policy. Sarah Palin spoke, but Beck explained while introducing her that she wasn't there to talk about politics; instead, he introduced her as "the mother of someone in the military." Her speech was mostly about veterans.
The rally was put on to raise awareness and donations for the Special Operations Warriors Fund, a veterans charity. For tax purposes, the rally couldn't have both been political and charitable.
The rally was more of a religious, motivational event than anything else. It was political in that a lot of people with the same political leanings, many of them active in the Tea Party movement, convened on the mall to hear about things other than politics. What they heard was extremely basic statements about how the nation must restore its honor through a rediscovery of faith.