This past Saturday, crowds gathered on the National Mall by the Lincoln Memorial for Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally, an event featuring Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and more. Among the detailed reports and opinions on the event, here are some of the larger takeaways:
- It Wasn't Political That much nearly everyone notes. In fact, it was more of an "ecumenical revival," remarks Robert Costa at National Review. "It was Beck's call for a religious rebirth that dominated."
- Which Was Very, Very Smart, explains The New York Times' Ross Douthat. It suggests that Beck, unlike Michael Moore during the Bush years, isn't going to become irrelevant once more like-minded folks sweep back into power. At this rally, "there was barely a whisper of the crusade against liberalism that consumes most of Beck's on-air hours." Instead, he focused on "patriotism and piety ... bless[ing] a particular way of life without burdening that blessing with the compromises of a campaign, or the disillusioning work of governance."
- Glenn Beck, Superstar Douthat continues to point out that Beck just "proved that he can conjure the thrill of a culture war without the costs of combat, and the solidarity of identity politics without any actual politics." That could be key to lasting success. Or, as Slate's Dave Weigel puts it: "He's just taken the world's most derided TV audience, put them in the National Mall, and presided over the world's largest megachurch." Alexander Zaitchik also writes in The New Republic about the Beck-centric nature of the rally.
- Crowd Counts Vary Wildly For starters, explains Politics Daily's Tom Kavanagh, aerial pictures commissioned by CBS News yield attendance estimates of about 87,000, Michelle Bachmann says over a million, Beck says between 300,000 and 650,000 and Fox insisted "over 500,000." Meanwhile, "NBC's 'Nightly News' took a more vague approach, describing attendance as 'tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands.' ABC put the number at 'more than 100,000.'"
- Slight Tension over Rival Rallies on 'I Have a Dream' Anniversary While conservative Tea Partiers took the Lincoln Memorial for the anniversary of Martin Luther King's most famous speech, a rival gathering led by Al Sharpton also gathered in the capital. McClatchy's Erika Bolstad and James Rosen are two of many to focus on the tension between the two groups, and to point out that "among Beck's featured speakers was King's niece, Alveda King, whose presence in part prompted the question: Who exactly owns the legacy of the country's civil rights pioneers?" As the Wire covered last week, Martin Luther King's son took pains to distance his father's legacy from the rhetoric of Beck's rally.