The XX Factor

Rally From a Perch

Today, my sister Hillary, who is now 30, met me at a Metro station in downtown Washington, D.C., so we could go walk to the Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear, hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It was our personal moment of zen – the first rally we’ve been to together since Hands Across America, 24 years ago. The rally was billed as a nonpolitical event. Who can argue with the need for sane and rational political discourse, one of Jon Stewart’s nightly rallying cries?

It wasn’t, as one reporter predicted, “a fiesta of self-congratulation .” The people we came across seemed determined to be polite, asking nicely before they photographed anyone’s costumed dog, and apologizing if they were forced to hold your sleeve to follow your path through the throng. Hillary and I found a perch where we could sit and observe the crowd, and discussed our favorite signs. Mine were “What’s with the airplane food?,” “Capital letters mean I’m serious,” and “Refudiate Insanity.” Hers were “I still like Bret Favre,” “I support this sign,” and “Get a brain, Morans.” (This last one was especially funny because my husband’s name is Moran.)

Since we could hear very little coming from the stage, we were puzzled when people on the steps around us started to stand up. Then we detected, very faintly, the notes of the “Star Spangled Banner.” It was too far away to make out any of the words, but we recognized the bass vibrating through the air, and both rose. Eventually, we called a friend in Chinatown, just a few blocks away. She was watching the rally on television and told us what was happening on stage. So we walked to her apartment and sat down to enjoy the coverage on C-Span. It seemed like the sane, reasonable thing to do.