Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Washington Uplift

At one point, the Stewart-Colbert crowd was urged to jump up in unison to get a seismic reading (no luck), recalling the day in 1967 when Vietnam protesters tried to levitate the Pentagon by chanting at it.

That didn't work, either. Washington is hard to move at any time for any reason, particularly sanity.

For a long-time observer of such events now reduced to watching on TV, this assemblage seemed placid compared to the time we came down on buses with the righteous satisfaction of bonding together to stop others from being killed and Norman Mailer would write an operatic book about it, "The Armies of the Night," that won a Pulitzer Prize.

A full hour of rock and rap before Stewart and Colbert appeared did not herald serious intention and must have persuaded any Tea Partiers who tuned in to scoff at what looked like another pleasure-seeking enterprise of the young and ethnic.

By the time Jon Stewart got around to articulating the point of the gathering, some minds and hearts may have been turned drowsy by what had been billed as "a Woodstock for the millennial generation."

But Stewart's take on Sanity was moving: “To see you here today and the kind of people that you are, has restored mine.

“What exactly was this? This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith. Or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies...

“The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker...And yet, with that being said, I feel good. Strangely, calmly good.”

A Marx Brothers routine comes to mind: Groucho and Chico are going through a contract, tearing up each paragraph. "What's this?" "The sanity clause." Rip-rip. "There is no Sanity Clause."

Maybe not, but all in all for a Halloween weekend, not a bad party.


Anonymous said...

Nice write up. I agree that prior to Stewart's speech it was hit or miss, leaning toward hit.

But Stewart's speech was very nice. The sentiments it carried much needed into today's divisive times. They seem like common sense -- values that any mother would teach a child, and it says a lot about the times that it's refreshing to hear someone articulate them.

Kenneth Almquist said...

This is one of the few political events which actually makes me more hopeful about our politics.

Also, they did get a seismic reading. Admittedly it was on the order of 14 million times smaller than the San Francisco earthquake. When unreasonable people dominate our political discourse, it helps to remember that the reasonable people are still out there.