Monday, September 20, 2010


On October 30, Jon Stewart is going to stage a "Rally to Restore Sanity" in D.C., after which Stephen Colbert will lead a "March to Keep Fear Alive." If we're to believe Politico, there are Democrats who actually think these events are going to help their party at the polls a few days later.

Sorry, they won't.

On Saturday there was this from Politico:

... no matter how much Comedy Central insists it's all just a goof, Stewart and Colbert's rally will be read as an important measure of the enthusiasm of young Democratic-leaning voters 10 days before the midterm elections.

That’s because, according to a Pew Research Center study released on Sunday, 58% of Daily Show and 64% of Colbert Report viewers described themselves as progressive, with 69% and 68% of them, respectively, approving of President Barack Obama's job performance....

So wait -- Politico thinks a big crowd to see two really entertaining, politically astute left-leaning guys will be a sign that the attendees are likely to go back and vote for their (quite possibly) timid, ineffectual, spineless members of the House and Senate? Is there really a cause-and-effect relationship here?

Today Politico has a follow-up:

...the planned event has also produced a bit of hand-wringing among Democrats. For one thing, Stewart hasn't mentioned that labor groups and other institutional Democratic organizations are already planning a big Washington rally to counter Beck: The One America rally on October 2, which has been struggling to get the kind of attention Beck does. And the Stewart rally is also, for Democratic field operatives, at an inconvenient time: Its participants are "not doing GOTV on GOTV weekend" said Matt Ortega, a former DNC staffer, referring to a weekend typically spent knocking on doors and making calls in one's home district, not Washington....

Other Democratic field organizers, though, said the event would be a plus on balance, and suggested that the party could even set up phone banks beside it.

"He will energize many, many more people than he will distract. And those who attend are only a small piece of the audience," emails Dan Cantor, executive director of New York's labor-backed Working Families Party....

Do you people get it at all?

Stewart and Colbert lean left, as do their audiences. But Stewart and Colbert are not Democratic Party operatives. It is not their freaking job to plug a labor-led rally on October 2. People don't know about that rally, Dems? That's your fault, and the fault of the organizers. Do your damn job and publicize it better.

The larger point here is that Stewart and Colbert, as comics, have not been Democratic Party cheerleaders. They clearly seem to agree, for the most part, with what Democrats claim to stand for -- but they are unwilling to pretend that Democratic ineptitude is brilliance. In Stewart's case, go watch his "I Give Up" segment (about the Democrats' inability to win a vote on a bill to aid sick 9/11 first responders), or his really harsh interview with Tim Kaine, or the segment about how Democrats will fuck up the golden opportunity presented by the primary victories of O'Donnell, Paladino, et al. -- when Democrats deserve it, he and his cast and writers strongly suggest that they're not worth expending effort for.

Now, a lot of us feel that way and will get out to the polls anyway. But he's not going get us pumped up to vote Democratic. That's not the premise of the "moderation" bit, and, more to the point, that's not his job. (And Colbert's mockery of Fox-style fearmongering will probably make it seem less scary than it actually is, so that won't be a motivator, either.)

So don't expect these guys to do your work for you, Democrats. Motivate your voters yourselves -- if you can figure out how.

And as for the possibility that your get-out-the-vote volunteers might skip politicking to go watch Stewart and Colbert: folks, if that's how little commitment your volunteers have to the Democratic cause, maybe it's the lack of commitment that's your real problem.

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