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When Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced their mock-dueling rallies on October 30, the reaction from most fans was a hearty laugh at the move to lampoon Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally. It turns out that Beck has no problem with it, however, while some Democrats have become skittish about Stewart's "Rally To Restore Sanity."

In an article for Politico, Ben Smith explains that Democratic activists are worried that Stewart's event might overshadow the One America rally on October 2—a larger, more serious political event sponsored by labor organizations. And Democratic get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts also may be hampered by the Comedy Central rally, which takes place the weekend before the November election when most GOTV pushes get into full-swing. Is the Democratic hand-wringing justified for an event that will hand out free signs like "I Disagree With You, But I'm Pretty Sure You're Not Hitler"? Political observers weigh in.

  • Democrats Are Worried reports Politico's Ben Smith, who interviews DNC staffers, field organizers and labor organizers. But it's The Nation editor Chris Hayes who puts it the most succinctly in response to Smith's query: "It's hard to imagine lots of democratic politicians showing up to a left equivalent of Glenn Beck's rally...but more than that is puts our current ideological predicament in stark terms. On the right, a large, well-funded, organized, ideologically zealous movement dedicated to a genuinely reactionary vision of America. On the other side? A very gifted satirist calling for everyone to just chill. If I landed here from Mars and took this in and was asked to bet on who's going to have more political success, it would be a no-brainer."
  • I'm Not So Sure Stewart's Event Will Be Smaller Than Beck's, concludes James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. "First, I continue to believe that, while the Tea Party movement is animated, it’s not united around any particular agenda, much less 'dedicated to a genuinely reactionary vision.' Second, if Stewart can get a larger crowd than Beck for what amounts to a joke rally, it will send a pretty powerful message about how small Beck’s attraction really is."
  • This Is 'Hilarious' declares an incredulous David Weigel, who can't understand why there is "panic about the first fun or galvanizing event that Barack Obama's liberal base had to look forward to since their limited edition Shepard Fairey prints came in the mail." These Democrats who are worried, he argues, that they are "doomed" electorally and see that, "their hope rests on the resilience of liberal activists and union members, who will be spending the final 72 hours of the campaign pulling voters to the polls." But those aren't the people who are going to this Comedy Central rally: "The Democratic panic is out of whack. Stewart's rally will attract two kinds of people: The liberals who weren't going to GOTV anyway, and the liberals who needed this final jolt to reconnect with their elitism."
  • It Encourages Political Equivalency, and Salon's Glenn Greenwald believes that sometimes Stewart strains too hard to find "rhetorical excesses" on both sides of the aisle: "It's admirable to want to apply the same standards to both sides, but straining to manufacture false equivalencies doesn't accomplish that; sometimes, honestly applying the same standards to each side will result in a finding that one side, at least in that regard, is actually worse." Namely, when the talk show host slams the left for calling Bush a "war criminal" in order to establish his centrist "bona fides" he concocts, "an equivalency where it doesn't exist."
  • Stewart Is One of the Few Who Can Generate Enthusiasm "Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann or, uh, whoever that guy is on CNN couldn't possibly generate the kind of excitement that Stewart and Colbert have managed to drum up," asserts Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post. "Don't get me wrong -- those liberal pundits both have great hair and lots of opinions, and if they want me to appear on their shows and say insightful things about finance, I'd be happy to oblige. But the true counterweights on the left to the crowd-rousers on the right are the comedians."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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