It's was a confusing day, because the man who organised it always admitted that he never knew what it was for, so contradictions were bound to occur.
"We are 12 hours away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America".Sarah Palin:
"We must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want. We must restore America and restore her honour."It's been the problem with the tea party movement since the beginning; no one can work out what the Hell it is that they stand for. It's a collection of groups of older white people, each with their own agenda, uniting around the fact that they do not like Barack Obama, whilst insisting that this has nothing to with race.
Asked why there were virtually no African-Americans in the crowd, Robert Lemaster, 65, who had travelled from Ohio, opened his hands wide: "I don't know why others are not here." He denied the Tea Party was racist: "That is nonsense. I know lots of minorities who support the Tea Party. It is not about racism but issues such as taxation."Hell, they couldn't even agree on how many of them were there, never mind why they were there.
An estimated 87,000 people attended a rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.Glenn Beck via Gateway Pundit:
“I heard two estimates from the media. One was 300,000 and the other was 500,000. So, who knows just how many are actually here today.”And the most profoundly stupid quote will always come from Michelle Bachmann:
"We're not going to let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today - because we were witnesses."Leaving all that aside, the day was never going to be able to live up to the hyperbole which it's organiser had engaged in. He had told us that we were going to see "a miracle", that just as "Woodstock inspired a generation," his rally "could be a new generation's defining moment."
"Maybe in a 100 years from now or 200 years from now ... this will be remembered as the moment America turned the corner."I was honestly looking forward to waking this morning and finding out what he had said. I expected that he would be outrageous, especially as he had promised so much.
"I really, truly believe" that 8-28 "will be remembered in American history as the turning point."
"You will see something on Saturday that has not happened in America for 228 years."
In the end it was much ado about nothing.
In the end, the day was about nothing other than Glenn Beck. And even then, we didn't get hyperbolic Beck, proclaiming himself the new Messiah. We got dull Beck, droner Beck, Holy Beck....
Think about it. In 1963, King and thousands of Americans marched to the Lincoln Memorial in a plea to Washington for massive action to tackle the problems of poverty and unemployment and also to block the forces of "nullification" and "interposition" -- personified by Alabama's racist Gov.George Wallace - that prevented blacks from voting and even using the same drinking fountains as whites.
In 2010, Beck not only told his predominantly middle-class gathering that not only do the poor in America not have it so bad but that in an era of political roadblocks, America need not focus on taking collective action but should look inward for answers, devoting more time to family but in particular by turning to God, the major theme of the Restoring Honor rally. Indeed, in his keynote speech, he said the rally had "nothing to do with politics, everything to do with God."
In a sense, that was true. In the works and in the news and eventually the subject of much controversy for much of this year, the actual "Restoring Honor" rally was a strange and often tepid affair -- stripped of all the political red-meat and angry Obama bashing (indeed, the president was almost never mentioned either from the podium or in the vast crowd) that has marked earlier Tea Party events, including the large Beck-inspired 9-12 rally last fall. It was nothing like any Tea Party-incited event I'd attended over the last year while researching my book on the movement, The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama. That might have been a disappointment to some in the crowd who traveled to Washington to show their displeasure with the current administration.
That's why Bert Melli was one of more than 100 people huddled in the pre-dawn pitch blackness at 4:45 a.m. yesterday in a shopping center parking lot in Havertown, Pa., waiting for a bus. "We have to let people know they are unhappy with the direction of the country," said Melli, a 78-year-old retiree. "This is a way to get their attention."But what Melli and the other heated overheated masses got instead on a languid, partly cloudy August day was an event that at times felt like the Jerry Lewis Telethon, minus the comic stylings of Shecky Greene.
Maybe some of the crown left happy, simply because they had attended. But few would have left holding aloft a grand phrase or a vision which had inspired them. People who attended MLK's speech in the same spot almost half a century before would always remember the following:
"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"There was nothing of such substance given to this crowd. They were thrown bubbles, bright shiny things which it was possible to momentarily enjoy, but, when they burst, the crowd were left with nothing of substance to take away. No grand vision, no soaring phrase. Other than Glenn thinks you all ought to pray more.
He could have delivered that message in five seconds on the TV. God knows why he had to bring everyone to Washington to hear it.