Those who watched the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear no doubt could see way better than I the show on the National Mall Saturday. Even though I stood on a backpack trying to pick up a couple inches to match the sight lines of somebody who was, say, five foot ten, I could only catch occasional glimpses of the six Jumbotrons. Mostly I looked at the backs of reasonable heads.
But a quarter of a million people and I didn't go to the rally to see the stage. We went to see each other and affirm in flesh and blood that we aren't alone when we think all this shrill insanity we see around us is crazy. We went to demonstrate to ourselves and anyone who might be watching that there are still reasonable people in America who once in a blue moon, or a gorgeous Saturday afternoon In D.C., make time to rally. Even if some of us have to leave early.
That said, here's what I saw, and felt, that I wouldn't have had I watched the whole with great camera angles from the comfort of my couch, beer in hand.
In the broader sense the folks who showed up were polite and reasonable, with profuse apologies when they stepped on you. Sort of like the crowd at the Minnesota State Fair. There were people pushing strollers and others who brought fold up chairs because they figured, correctly, that their feet would hurt after standing on the hard-packed mall for four or five hours.
Age-wise the demographic was probably late teens to early seventies. There were plenty of us who were too young to go to Woodstock, but not too old to go to this rally. Racially, the crowd was overwhelmingly white, with only an occasional splash of color, despite Jon Stewart's claim otherwise. People wore jeans and sensible shoes.
Zoom in a little tighter. A couple of young men in skintight, zip up the back full-body spandex suits jumped and danced to Ozzy Osbourne. When Fr. Guido Sarducci gave the benediction they wondered aloud who he was. As the temperature rose they began to smell.
In front of them stood a 60ish man in a leather jacket and hat who carried a sign that said "$2billion a day isn't a defense it's a scandal." it was a big sign that he obligingly lowered when the people behind him politely pointed out that it blocked their view. Next to him was a guy from North Carolina who has listened to Garrison Keillor every Saturday for 20 years.
The signs were the most entertaining aspect of the rally. Some of my favorites:
* A woman in a chicken suit whose sign said, "think outside the Fox."
* Babies are going to steal our jobs in 20 or 30 years.
* Please don't stomp on my head
* Law of the American jungle: *remain calm *share your bananas
*This sign contains correct spelling and grammar.
* Facts are our friends
Through most of the rally I was hoping that Stewart would bring out a surprise show stopper, like maybe Bruce Springsteen to sing "Born in the U.S.A." instead it closed with Tony Bennett. But like I said, most of us didn't go to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear to see the stage.