It took mere minutes after The Daily Show's Jon Stewart announced that he would be holding a Rally To Restore Sanity (followed by his colleague Stephen Colbert's call for a March To Keep Fear Alive) in Washington, DC on October 30th for a nation of worried Democratic concern-trolls to take to Twitter and despair about how this was going to utterly ruin their electoral hopes in November. I found the whole idea to be super-daft, and, in monitoring the chatter in my inbox coming from lefty types, I was relieved to see that the worries didn't go unmet by people arguing that the Rally/March would be a good thing, for America. Still, the notion that Jon Stewart is going to single-handedly destroy the Democrats' get-out-the-vote effort isn't going away. Here's David Corn, of Mother Jones:
Stewartpalooza is happening the weekend before the critical congressional elections. It will suck up plenty of media attention--and resources. Think of all the people who will be coming--and the time and money it will take them to plan the trip and to travel to and from the nation's capital. These folks are likely to be more sympathetic to Democrats than Republicans, despite Stewart's skewer-'em-all approach. So if the pro-sanity crowd is packing bags and heading to Washington on the last weekend prior to the elections, these people won't be knocking on doors or making phone calls to get out the vote for Democratic candidates.
Certainly, if many of moderate-as-hell demonstrators hail from congressional districts where the Democratic candidates are likely to win (say, anywhere in Manhattan), there's no real harm done. But if Stewart draws bodies from toss-up districts -- and provides an outlet for citizens who might otherwise be persuaded to do grassroots political work at home -- Republican strategists will be delighted.
Oh, so, Republican strategists are still a few weeks away from allowing themselves to feel "delighted?" This is news to me.
I really, really do not buy this. I think the overlap on the Venn Diagram between potential rally attendees and the participants in that weekend's global voter outreach operation is well overblown. If I look at this realistically, most of the attendees of this rally are going to be coming from the DC-Metropolitan area. Also, I hear that there will be some buses bringing people from New York City, or something? Well, the Democrats look pretty solid in New York at the moment. In fact, based upon the polling I'm seeing, there isn't a single Democrat from Delaware who couldn't take the day -- perhaps even the weekend -- off.
I just don't see how this event adversely impacts the efforts of your Russ Feingold or Alexi Giannoulias or Jerry Brown or Patty Murray or Harry Reid campaigns. Obviously, if you are managing a Congressional campaign and can document evidence of the negative impact this Rally is having on your campaign workforce, then you should email me and name names, because I would very much like to be the first human being on Earth to actually report this story.
Corn also has larger concerns that the President's own efforts that weekend might be overshadowed, in that the Rallies are going to absorb a lot of the media's newshole. All I can say to that is that if the Democrats' hopes hinge on some magic words that can only be said by President Obama on the teevee on Saturday afternoon, then I wouldn't get my hopes too high.
But look, let's just settle the issue. If you've agreed to work for a campaign that weekend, then you really, really should honor the commitment you've made -- not because electing Democrats is important (I'll let your campaign's precinct captain make that case) -- simply because in life, keeping your commitments is important. Do not attend the rally! If David Corn is right, this is going to be a win-win for everyone -- the weekend's GOTV effort will be a gamechanging electoral moment that political scientists will study forever, and there will be a lot more room at the Rally for me and the five other people who plan on attending.
But look -- Jon Stewart has the following he has because there's a gigantic group of people out there who have come to trust The Daily Show. People consider Stewart to be a truth-teller, someone who reliably redeems the faith placed in him. If the people running Democratic Congressional campaigns are this worried about the Rally To Restore Sanity stealing away all of the people who have volunteered to work during the latter stages of the 2010 election season, then it's time they did some lengthy soul-searching, and ask themselves why their candidates don't elicit the same level of devotion.
Obviously, when all is said and done, it will be much easier to blame Jon Stewart, so that's what is going to happen!