Mr. Stewart goes to Washington

Great political satire is a beautiful thing.  The upcoming and competing rallies on the National Mall, by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, capture the zeitgeist of our times.  Stewart calls for those who think Hitler mustaches are out of style to descend on our Nation’s capital for the Rally to Restore Sanity:

“We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles. Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we’d like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 — a date of no significance whatsoever — at the Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.”

Brilliant.  In today’s 24-hour media culture, Stewart has often been outdone in artifice by the actual “Fair and Balanced” and “Trustworthy” news media that he so successfully critiques.  This rally shines a satirical light on the movements, funded by billionaires and international corporate titans, but Of the People, of course.   Stephen Colbert comes from the other side, in his March to Keep Fear Alive:

“America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear — forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget — “Reason” is just one letter away from “Treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance. So join The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. on October 30th for the “March to Keep Fear Alive”™ in Washington DC. Pack an overnight bag with five extra sets of underwear — you’re going to need them. Because, to Restore Truthiness we must always… Shh!!! What’s that sound?! I think there’s someone behind you! Run!”

Glenn Beck is scared.  He warned his audience that Stewart and Colbert were out to “activate the youth.” Apparently he is frightened by the glare of their sharp satire.  Colbert, whose conservative satire was originally aimed at ‘Papa Bear’ Bill O’Reilly, but is now equally focused on ‘Mama Bear’ Sarah Palin, identifies the fear that pervades conservative political messaging.  Inveighing against the terrorists, illegal immigrants, gay marriage, and late term abortions, Republican political campaigns are designed to scare voters – Dick Cheney was always trying to inculcate fear.  The controversy around the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ is a perfect example of that rhetoric.  Remember, you are either with the right-wing Republicans, or you are against them.

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