Politics as Pop Culture

Stewart And Colbert Rally For 'Sanity And/Or Fear' At The National Mall

Jon Stewart Holds Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear

The stage or the "Restore Sanity And/Or Fear" rally is readied on the National Mall October 29, 2010. Win McNamee/Getty Images North America hide caption

itoggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images North America

EDITOR'S NOTE: We regret to report that blogger Linda Holmes is experiencing technical difficulties filing from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall. Reports that she was tripped by a 7-year-old girl while attempting to accept an award onstage have not been confirmed. Linda will return with a report after the rally, so please check back later today.

UPDATE 9:48 AM: There is music to amuse the crowd, which is getting pretty significant with two hours to go before the thing actually starts. The occupation at the moment that is most popular seems to be waving your amusing sign and seeing if anyone notices you. I believe we did hear a soundcheck announcement with the words "John Legend" in it, so that may be the first tip we've gotten.

UPDATE 8:13 AM: There are already ... a lot of people here. I'm not sure the guy I saw preparing his breakfast on a nearby street corner — as in "eggs on a hibachi" — is making a great case for sanity. Otherwise, so far it is bustling but pleasant. Music is playing, and I am next to two people in Star Trek costumes. So ... there's that.

GOOD MORNING! WELCOME TO OUR LIVE COVERAGE OF FEAR AND/OR SANITY: When Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert call to order the 'Rally For Sanity And/Or Fear' in Washington today, they'll continue to pour out the contents of an entire can of worms they've opened about politics and entertainment that's been discussed in some detail.

Even taking them at their word that partisan politics are not the point, it's hard to hold a rousing rally — even a satirical one — three days before Election Day and insulate it from the emotions that are running so high elsewhere. (Note that Stewart tends to focus on whether the rally has a partisan agenda as far as helping either Republicans or Democrats, which is very different from whether it has an ideology.)

Jon Stewart Holds Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear

Visitors watch as the stage for the "Restore Sanity And/Or Fear" rally is readied on the National Mall October 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are scheduled to hold the rally. Win McNamee/Getty Images North America hide caption

itoggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images North America

After weeks of secrecy about exactly what is supposed to happen at the rally, with only general outlines emerging in recent days, we still don't really know what exactly they have planned. Big questions remain unanswered, including most intriguingly whether any actual politicians might appear. But as much fun as it is to speculate about the on-stage entertainment, in all likelihood, there won't be huge surprises as far as the content for those who watch Stewart and Colbert on television.

No, the biggest unknown isn't the performers; it's the crowd. How many people will show up, how much the tone is affected by signs or other displays of anger that cut into the stubbornly unperturbed attitude Stewart in particular has been trying to suggest, how much nutty behavior by attention-seekers distracts from the show ... there remain a lot of questions about how well performers can direct the mood of an event this size.

I'll be covering the event, whatever it turns out to be, and assuming I can achieve any sort of connectivity with the world outside the Mall, we'll have updates throughout the day and I'll give you an idea of how it looks from the cheap seats.

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