Stewart and Colbert Hold Rally About Nothing

November 1, 2010
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Democrats wanted to use Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s rally this past weekend to motivate young voters to participate in the midterm elections.

The crowd was mostly Democrats. But it also contained some generally apathetic Comedy Central fans.

The three-hour rally consisted mainly of satire and comedy with humorous sketches and surprise musical guests including Kid Rock, Ozzy Osbourne, the O’Jays, Sheryl Crow, Tony Bennett, and the former Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam.

In one rare quasi-political stunt, Stewart gave a “Medal of Reasonableness” to Velma Hart, the now famous lady who told Obama that she was “exhausted” from having to defend him.

A host of left-leaning organizations were there in an apparent attempt to politicize the event. Organizing for America, Obama’s campaign entity, was at the train station welcoming rallygoers and signing people up for get-out-the-vote tasks.

Arianna Huffington tried her best to boost attendance to the event by paying a reported $250,000 to bus thousands from New York to D.C. for the rally.

Amnesty International, the League of Young Voters PAC, Public Citizen, and the Feminist Majority Foundation were present handing out materials to the youthful audience while the George Soros-funded Media Matters collected signatures for an advertising boycott of Fox News.

Toward the end of the event, Stewart attacked extremists on both the left and the right.

In fact, the comic included footage of MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews to show examples of media insanity.

When Stewart was asked by a reporter whether the rally attendees should vote in the upcoming election, the “Daily Show” host disappointed the press, the White House and the Democrats, saying, “People should do what moves them, that's not for me to decide.”

What’s been moving late-night comics recently is making jokes about Obama. And that’s not necessarily good news for the president.

As the first African-American to be elected to the Oval Office, late-night comedians were initially reluctant to make President Obama the target of their humor during the first year of his presidency.

Since then, though, Obama’s favorability numbers have tanked, and even his followers have lost their enthusiasm. As a result, the hosts of late-night shows are now reflecting public sentiment and are placing the president in their comedic crosshairs.

According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, President Obama was the most joked about political figure this year. After his election, Obama was the fourth most joked about political figure behind John McCain, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin.

The think tank counted the jokes up to Labor Day and found that Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, and yes, even David Letterman made Obama the punch line a total of 309 times.

As it turns out, a similar level of jokes were made at the expense of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The study had Sarah Palin placing a distant second, with only 137 late-night jokes.

Letterman’s jokes focus on Obama being a one-term president. Much of the other late-night humor portrays the president as uninterested in his job.

I’ve coined the term “Late-Night Comic Indicator” and will keep tabs on the phenomenon.

My prediction? For the midterm elections, the current indicator bodes ill for Obama and the Democrats by extension.