The plan, as Stewart and Colbert opaquely describe it, would seem to be a booster shot of smugness. On the Rally to Restore Sanity Facebook page, the disembodied voice of Stewart issues a call for “the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler.”
That’s quite a bow to the new reality. A few years ago, it was liberals wincing at their fellow travelers when they were stupid enough to think that rallying on the Mall with Bush-Hitler signs would change anything. With the start of the Obama campaign in 2007, the liberal pose became happy and self-righteous. The biggest rally in modern American history was not 9/12; it was a gathering of liberals on the Mall on January 20, celebrating the arrival of the leader whose face they had on their walls.
This was not comfortable turf for liberals. It was very comfortable turf for both conservatives and for satirists like Stewart and Colbert, because the cult of Obama and the optimism of liberals was fairly ridiculous. When the Tea Party movement started up, egged on by Stewart’s accidental archenemy Beck, it broadened the focus of the satirists, but it didn’t galvanize liberals. They’d spent eight years being alternately smug or afraid when they thought about Republicans. They got rid of the Republicans. And now they were supposed to rediscover their smugness?