On the surface, The Daily Show 's The Rally To Restore Sanity appears to be a resurgence of the spirit that fortunately killed The Crossfire Syndrome. And appearances would be true if and only if it is the manner in which we debate issues that is being addressed. Unfortunately, when parameters limit the issues that are defined as sane, my hero contributes only to the channeling of American opinion that is so often practiced by the targets of his show's humor.
When leaving office, Eisenhower warned people of the Military-Industrial Complex that had established a large beachhead on the control of the country's budget. That is not the only complex that should cause concern. There is another complex, one I call the Political-Media Complex, whose purpose is to Manufacture Consent, as Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky have put it, by narrowing the range of "respectable" views. In essence, the Political-Media Complex constructs a goalpost of acceptable views and anything to left or right of the uprights is no good. This channeling was seen during the 2008 Presidential election. Obama, and the "leftist" media presented respectable objections to the wars. Obama's respectable objections consisted of the business objections regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the war efforts. McCain also challenged the effectiveness of the war strategy from the right though he endorsed the invasions. What was deemed no good were the moral objections to the war by those on the Left, a coalition of Leftists and Democrats, as well as those on the Right, a group consisting of conservative libertarians. These moral objections went wide of the uprights provided by the Political-Media complex.
So The Daily Show 's Rally To Restore Sanity is the show's contribution to the channeling of American opinion. Instead of being content with merely restoring civility, a much needed task, to our national discourse, this rally has determined what views and perspectives are to be regarded as sane or not sane. The views that are off limits for Americans include: the Republican opposition to Obama's healthcare, despite its cost, and the Leftist view that our leaders have committed war crimes, despite the Nuremberg Principles and the UN Charter. In addition, according to Stewart, the rally is neither for the professional nor the amateur activist, the rally is for those who are too busy to be activists. In other words, this rally is for America's Idle--that is idle in contrast to those who read up on issues and act on what is read. Stewart's appeal here is demeaning to anyone who either has or is looking for a job and who includes keeping up with issues as part of his or her life.  His appeal celebrates apathy.
The Daily Show will still be my source for news therapy even after the rally. And I will still love the show and will enjoy the news therapy from much of the excellent and creative work that is done on the show. However, not only will The Daily Show have missed an opportunity to enhance political discourse in our nation, they will have contributed to the narrowing of the American mind by associating not just bellicosity with the lack of sanity, but "outlier" views, which merit further examination, with the same.
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