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So what do we do with those idiots?

It seems to be an article of faith among both sides of the political spectrum that the people on the other side are evil, stupid or both. The only difference is the terms that get used when they call each other names.

Both sides are convinced that they are morally superior, more intelligent and better looking than the other side. Left and right both agree that if “they” win “we” are screwed. They both keep the hyperbole knobs turned up to eleventy on their rhetoric generators.

Do you think that maybe we should dial things down a notch or two?

Jon Stewart:

“I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. 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.

But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.

If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate–just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker–and perhaps eczema.

And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundations that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—but they do it–impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.

Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car, swinging, I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted.

Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.”

82 Responses

  1. I had no expectations at all for that rally. But, I watched and I’m so glad I did.

    I still don’t know what it was but It was a nice interlude.

  2. I don’t know … My 87 year old aunt & 81 year old uncle (siblings) flew out from San Francisco. They joined one of my sisters who also went. I don’t think it was just wanting to be cool… They’ve had a lot of opportunities for that. I’ll be talking to them next week. I’m really curious about the whole thing.

  3. Oh, and take things down a notch or two? I totally believe in calling people out on what they Do or what they Vote For or their Policies or Official Actions or their Lies.

    Does “toning it down” mean letting go of issues before their even addressed?

    I don’t support that.

    I think the War Crime issue should be On the table.
    I think Medicare for Everyone should be On the table.
    I think Heads should roll for the Financial Crisis.

    I’m not toning down my feelings about that.

    • I completely agree with the agenda but don’t know of anyone NOT to call out in the items you list. It does seem to me that rank and file Ds and Rs are closer than most believe.

      The polls taken on HCR would bear that out. On every one of them where a system like “Medicare” was one of the options, it was picked by a majority of Ds and Rs alike. It’s not the people, it’s their representatives who need the calling out!

      • It’s not the people, it’s their representatives who need the calling out!

        I agree — but, my point is that they’ve got to be called out on these issues (and many others) — not how high their skirts or levels of coolness or (even) party affiliation.

    • I assume he means take the hyperbole down a notch or two. But certainly argue the actual issues. There are people not only doing the wrong or bad things, but there are people doing criminal things and creating destruction. Definitely call people on their behaviors and issues. But recognizing that most everyone, on all sides of issues, are just people too is probably helpful.

    • And the Democrats are easily as liable for all of those things as the Republicans.

    • I think the toning it down he is referring to is the reflexive name-calling, generalizations and hysteria that are based on preconceptions and propaganda instead of substantive debate re: policy, which is what you are stating.

  4. This is why the problems in this country are going to be solved by us being in control of our politicians, not the other way around. Because as Jon said, we do this every day in the real world.

    The R’s would like their people to think “OMG, all those liberals are batshit crazy authoratarian statists, no point even trying to reason with them!” And the D’s would like you to think “OMG, all those conservatives are off the deep end bonkers selfish raycists, why bother even talking, write them off as a lost cause!”

    Neither is true. Some of it may be true of our politicians and fringe rabid activists, but it’s not generally true of our everyday neighbors. This isn’t going to be solved from the top down, by either the left or the right finding the correct “champions” to whom we’ll then hand over the responsibility of solving it.

    To the american people I would say: Talk to each other. You may be surprised to learn that the awful liberal next door is not a marxist who wants to nationalize everything in sight and redistribute us all into gray stagnation. You may be surprised to find that the conservative next door does not hate granny, and is not perfectly content to see people starving on the streets because he’s got his and they’re losers.

    I don’t think our politicians are going to solve this for us. It’s going to have to come from us. And in order to do it, we are going to have to get out of our echo chambers and comfort zones and talk to each other. We as a people have to reach consensus, persuade and cajole and figure out what we agree on, before we can then send people to washington to enact it for us. Cart before horse. And we’ve been getting it backwards for years.

    • Honk!

    • HONK

    • Again I’m going to go all nuance-y

      There is a big difference between saying so and so’s policy positions are extreme and bad and saying so and so is an evil and horrible person who deserves to be pilloried. Both sides seem to be talking past each other.

      I already talk to conservatives, if I didn’t I’d have to spend all my time talking to myself.

  5. Hear, hear – WMCB – you’re right on the money as usual.

    And Katiebird – I’m right there with you on the war, Medicare and rolling heads!

  6. So, Stewart is telling us to be good little drones for the government? He can go drive his car into that Obama ditch.

    • No, he’s telling the MSM to not be idiots.

      • And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

        Sorta sounds like making the trains run on time to me.

        • I sounds like he’s saying regular people are sensible and work together and get things done, and only washington and the MSM are focused on the wrong things and not getting stuff done. He made that pretty clear a few times.

          • But he’s saying the same meaningless stuff Obama did in 2008. Of course people work together. Washington is obviously doing the wrong thing and the media loves a meaty story. That kind of talk just doesn’t serve any purpose.

            Jon Stewart is trying to walk this line between media satirist and dumb comedian. Any time he’s challenged on his own partisan beliefs, he says he’s just a guy with a stupid TV show. When you tell him he’s a comedian and start telling some jokes, he goes off like you told him to get a real job.

            I guess preaching moderation just makes me murderously angry.

          • They are the ones driving on the shoulder and not taking turns to get stuff done.

  7. All of the people that I know who went, which is a cool dozen that I know of… did so *primarily* as a counterweight against the Glenn Beck Zombie Fest… it really was that simple.

    • But that’s the point this post is making. Everyone who went that day is not a “Zombie” just because they are frustrated and afraid. There were 10’s of thousands of people there–they are not all brain dead rac*st ignorant boobs. Have some respect on both sides.

      • it was a simple observation based on personal experience… other than that, anyone who does anything to do with Glenn Beck is a brain eating zombie in my book. That is just to get started.

    • Did you listen to what Stewart said?

    • Makes sense that a lot of people would have that initial motivation. Especially since it was at the Mall and partly pushed as an alternative of that. Hopefully if they went as the progressive equivalent of Beck’s zombies, they got the message anyway. That is, seeing most people on both sides as just folks trying to get things done, and the loudmouths on cable are portraying something different.

      • Except when Stewart told them to pick up their trash, they left it all over the place anyway.

        • Sadly that’s most any people.

          • Again, the Beck rally had a lot of (admittedly older) people who brought their own trash bags. Even if he was crazy, most of the Beck audience listened to him. I’m not sure how many listened to Stewart.

          • Not surprised 1539days, wingers tend to be very neat and organized and make their trains run on time too. See, now you’ve got me doing it.

          • Well, I don’t like AmTrak because they don’t run on time.

          • Perhaps if they had 1 millionth the backing that the airline industry gets, they’d have a better record. You get what you pay for.

        • Since he made a point of mentioning it, Stewart should have hired people to distribute trash bags through the crowd as his closing act.

          • That would have been cool. I don’t think they were that well organized. Just like their party not being an organized political party.

        • Forgive me, but how is a crowd’s failure to pick up trash at an event a measure of the quality or truth of the speaker(s)?

          Beck’s people picked up their trash? Good for them.
          Is Beck any less fooked i’ the heid because of that? No.

          • Well, Stewart himself mentioned the issue at the opening of his show. Otherwise (shrugs) I wouldn’t have commented on it either way.

            HE seemed to think it important. And how hard would it have been to have his staff pass out some garbage bags?

          • The trash thing is a sign that most attendees weren’t listening and even fewer heard what he said.

          • It’s a matter of respect for the public property and common decency not to litter your trash all over the damn place.

  8. How do we get a party that is not a corporatist’s party? Have publicly funded elections? I’ll vote for anyone on the ballot who is in favor of that!

    What will it take to get a third-party that is a people’s party? One that will hold the corporate-interest parties’ feet to the fire? Oh, forgot that the MSM is controlled by a five corps. for the most part, and they sold Bush 2 twice, the Iraq War, and Bubbles.

    • That’s really the issue: the Big Money. That’s also why people on all sides are furious–because we feel powerless against these partially hidden forces that dictate everything now. Enough is enough–we want our democracy back. The vampires have practically drained the life out of this country, and they still want more. People are really pissed and afraid all around, and it’s no wonder. And the “leaders” we have say the right things as they accept hand-outs behind closed doors. People are OVER it!

      • That really is the issue: Big Money. And it affects everything else, whether we’re talking lost jobs, fraudulant home foreclosures or bailouts to the very financial institutions that brought the world to its knees. Until we recognize that corporatism is strangling us, that our pols on both sides of aisle are playing kissy-face with corporate interests, our futures will continue to be diminished.

  9. I loved his speech and the whole show. I think he brought some sanity to the table and put in a good effort. And called the idiots on both sides out for their hyperbole and nonsense, and for the destruction they’re doing. I think he made it clear that the cable news networks were mostly to blame. OK, it was real clear with the video he showed. Nice job Jon.

  10. OT: Ted Sorensen died today:

    Theodore C. Sorensen, who was a close adviser and counselor to John F. Kennedy for 11 years, writing words and giving voice to ideas that shaped the president’s image and legacy, died Sunday in New York. He was 82 and lived in Manhattan.

  11. I’d feel better about it if Jon hadn’t been part of the problem, promoting O and sneering at opposing viewpoints. He also makes a living off of condescending to people on a regular basis, and to now claim the high road is a bit disingenuous IMO. I’m glad he is more sober about it now, but how sad is it that our representatives are so chronically dishonest we have to get some reality from two TV personalities?

    • Can’t disagree with you there. He was certainly a player in pushing the meme that Hillary was some crazy person who couldn’t win and was trying to prevent something historical by stealing the election, etc.

      But he has seen the light. At least I think. And I for one am very happy with that.

      • While I agree with you, that he appears to have seen the light. And I totally agree with what he said and what he is trying to achieve.

        I think it’s a cop out that he is not saying outright that he has been part of the problem, particularly in 08 making the mistake of ridiculing the better candidate.

        I hope those who went there heard him clearly. I agree with the clown that they went for the cool factor, but I really hope every one hears it.

        • Agree. He was part of the problem and did some of the same that he’s complaining about now. I think he has said he’s done some of those bozo things, but it would be nice for him to have a full and open discussion of what he did and how it was wrong. But sadly people don’t tend to do that. We’ve got friends at home and in our blog lives that have done that but we still talk. Life is like that.

    • Yup, he tends to be holier than thou when it suits him.

  12. Off-topic: AMV of a seasonal favorite since 1962 from Bobby “Boris” Pickett. Video footage from the old Groovie Goolies cartoon. :mrgreen:

  13. people that would normally not stereotype anyone feel free to diminish and call others who disagree with them disgusting names. if you don’t have a good argument, call names or stereotype.

  14. Speaking as a person from the left, there is a difference between believing someone is evil or stupid and believing someone has the wrong ideas.

    I realize that is nuance-y and probably won’t fit well on a bumper sticker but there you have it.

    For the record I don’t believe anyone is superior to anyone else. Comparing people is like comparing snowflakes. No to snowflakes are going to be the same and no to people’s perspectives are the same either. So therefore you can’t really compare. Different doesn’t or shouldn’t mean superior.

    Oh and the biggest error the “Very Serious People” make is not recognizing that “smart” means that you can learn something valuable from everybody. Not just people who have attended universities or that have been blessed with many opportunities that others have not nor will not ever experience.

    • ooops two -not to

    • I know I’m a smart person who says and does dumb things on occasion. I don’t like the idea of being mocked for every little thing I’ve done to make me look unreasonable.

      When Stewart stops doing that on his show, I may listen to him.

    • I would say you agree with Stewarts message then.

      • Yes, I think reasonable and thoughtful people can disagree and still BOTH be reasonable and thoughtful. I find both sides responsible for the deterioration of debate in this country. They each seem to have forgotten that they are screaming and villianizing people, not just ideologies.

        • Agree. But I also agree with Steward that it’s mostly from the top down (in politics), and from the MSM. Regular people aren’t that bad. Most of my liberal and conservative friends are much more reasonable frankly. But I’ve also seen lots of ugliness from regular people too, probably egged on by what they hear.

  15. OK, there is a lot of grumbling at Jon. Instead of looking at the hand that’s pointing, we might want to look at what it’s pointing at. I suspect we mostly agree with what he’s pointing at and saying. That’s the point of the discussion.

    • My experience is that I quit watching him on election night 2004. Something he said that night made me so sick, I couldn’t stand watching him after that.

      But, I like Events on television so I watched his rally.

      And I came out of it feeling pretty good about him and Colbert too. I thought they put on a good show and they seemed well-intentioned.

      I don’t think they changed the world. And I don’t think it matters.

      It was a nice day.

    • Jon’s message is a great one. The only quibble I have is cable news is not the only problem, only the most in your face. Often the cable news shows take their memes from the major papers and they are not trustworthy either now.

      They may as well be Izvestia in Manhattan and Pravda on the Potomac for all the accuracy in their news reports. Other than the Shrill One, sometimes, there is not a decent editorial writer at either.

      The entire media in this country is just terrible, with the possible exception of McClatchy sometimes..

    • Agree – I am nitpicking.

      I totally agree with everything he said. Maybe my nits are because of my need to be right all the time 🙂 and to get that last ounce of blood.

      But he really did say everything right and I hope a lot comes out of it.

    • But that’s the insidiousness. You can pull dozens of clips of Glenn Beck saying wise and reasonable things out of two years of broadcasts. Just today, he said that the Rand Paul supporter who assualted that woman was horrible. “Restoring Honor” sounds just as good as “Restoring Sanity.” I just look at the totality of the speaker.

  16. For God’s sake, just how many damn rallies they’ve got going anyway? Just another damn rally, next year
    will be the same, and in the same damn place. Are we any closer to keeping our homes, our jobs, and our families healthy because of these rallies? It’s costing a whole lot of money for people to gather their and talk
    about sticks and stones, and stakes and fire.

    They are not really concerned about you and me. Watch them all dress up as ghosts tonight.

  17. Feh.

    I’m all worn out on tired pleas for cooperation when the more fundamental problem is the moral bankruptcy of faux liberals.

    Do we “agree” in principle with our nominal allies on the left? If so, on what issues, and on what particulars? Cuz from my seat I can’t see any “agreement” within our own ranks about what exact policy prescriptions we are supposed to be championing…and I certainly don’t see where the current party heads are willing to defend and try to enact those changes.

    I have no interest in a “war of ideas” between the professional left Comedy Central and the movement conservative Fox News. Dollars to doughnuts, it’ll be the professional left that sells out the interests of their supposed “nominal allies”, working class every day liberals.

    Exhibit A…

    it isn’t movement conservatives riding the education reform/union busting train with sophisticated hollywood produced documentary style propaganda.

    Exhibit B…

    it isn’t movement conservatives pushing for grand scale gentrification of urban housing. (Hello, Chicago!)

    I could go on. But I’m hitting the /rant-off switch.

    Happy Halloween.

  18. The revolution will be televised – err – TV produced. It was a fun show. Everyone who thought it was more than that – sorry, it wasn’t.
    Happy Halloween – some photos from my Halloween

  19. Jon Stewart is brilliant and he tells more truths than not, and a whole lot more than any other talking head.

    He also is a great interviewer. He reads all the guests books and he is gracious, but he still can snap their underwear…so to speak. He is fast in his feet and as smart and they come.

    I don’t remember much that Jon said against or for Hillary.He did a few jokes and mocked all the mocking.
    I felt he was more fair than anyone else i can remember.
    I quit Mahrer, Air America, The Nation. MSNBC, CNN and many others.

    I never missed Jon’s show. We TIVO it

    It took me several months at first to “get ” Steven Colbert. I just didn’t get it. But suddenly it started to make sense. He really is genius.
    Colbert’s correspondent dinner routine in (IIRC) 2004 for Bush was a real eyeopener.
    Two things happened :
    Vindication for for me for hating the despised Bush attitude and his policies and the war.
    and also, it made me realize what an act of courage it took to do what he did. He sliced and diced that crowd and shone a harsh light on Bush.
    I’ve been a big fan since.

    I thought the rally was fun, silly, surprising, funny, entertaining, spiritual as a humankind gathering thing. It was clever and different than what usually goes on at these rallies in the Mall.
    I say Bravo, Jon and Steven.

  20. Baltimore Sun media critic not a fan of the Rally to whatever …

    A rally signifying nothing

    By the time Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert got to the portion of their rally that featured the giant paper mache puppet of Colbert Saturday, I was thinking that somewhere in a poor mountain village in a former Eastern bloc Soviet country, there were two aged actors unemployed since the fall of Communism who were putting on a play for peasant children of pre-school age, because that was the only audience they could find and hold. And I thought they were probably using puppets, too — but they had to be far more engaging and entertaining than this duo on the National Mall.

  21. Shut up, Jon Stewart.

    What’s his point? That people should be nice to each other? Fine, we got that. I got that in kindergarten, if not before hand. He wanted everone to go to Washington to tell them that? What a tool!

    The problem is not the lack of niceness. The problem is that the Democrats in power cave in to the GOP at every turn, except during elections. During elections, yes, the Dems are pretty much just as bad as the Repubs when it comes to name calling, personal attacks, the politics of character assassination, and so forth. But, in the interums, when the country is actually being governed, the Dems make like, in the tired cliche, Charlie Brown to the Republicans’ Lucy with a football.

    And yes, many bloggers and cable news folks and the like join in the mutual name calling at all times too. But so what? How does that affect the country at large? It doesn’t. Most folks don’t even pay attention to it. What people do pay attention to is the fact that the Dems have either been too “nice” to the Repubs most of the time (or, alternatively, that the Dems have become too much like the Repubs) and no longer feel it is in their interests to vote for them. Folks who agree with the Repub philosophy vote for them, folks who agree with what used to be the Dem philosophy no longer have a major party that represents them, so they don’t know who to vote for. That is the story of this election, not the high Broderism (and now high Stewartism) that politics has gotten too “mean” and that people should start being “nice” to each other. Politics has always been nasty, and the “sanity” of the country has not noticably suffered for it. The whole thing is a yawn fest.

    If Stewart really wanted to do something, if he really wanted to stop being a hipper than thou, ultra cool, Oboma-loving comedian, he should have had his rally two years ago, when it became clear that Obama and the DC Dems were selling out their constiuencies and making too much nice-nice with the GOP. And that should have been the focus of the rally. Not to call anyone names, not to be mean for meaness’ sake. But to call on the Party to represent the People, particularly the people who put them in office.

    We don’t need another Miss Manners, we need fighting liberals.

  22. As a comedian, he is doing a better job pretending to be a serious journalist compared to the shills on “serious” new networks. However, I don’t expect anything serious from him when it comes to changing the system, challenging the Democratic Party, or understanding the importance of truly unifying the country under a Democratic leader like FDR or Clinton who won’t spit in the faces of people in the Tea Party.

    At the end of the day, Jon Stewart is concerned with one person and that is Jon Stewart. He delivers what his audience wants to hear with an occasional criticism of the Obama administration (now that is is acceptable to criticize him two years later). I’m too busy to watch Jon Stewart religiously the way I did in college, but I have heard from some of the FP here and at other sites that Stewart has made some misogynistic statements about Hillary Clinton in the past. If that is true, I am not entirely surprised since his audience is comprised of mostly Obots. That tells you right there that Stewart is not the person to look to if we want to hold both parties accountable and put a real Democrat in the White House.

    • That’s the thing: if he’s so brilliant, and does his research, why didn’t he see what we saw in 2007-2008, and speak up about it when it would have mattered. He was at the Kool Aid punch bowl with the rest of them, and making cracks about HRC too. It’s easy to protest when it’s already gone mainstream.

  23. If people are looking to Jon Stewart for answers we’re totes lost.

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