Sunday, August 29, 2010

Then and now . . .

I'm not going to dwell on Glenn Beck's rally yesterday because I just don't think it will have any real or lasting impact. The event was a small-to-medium rally by Washington, DC standards, attended by 85,000 to 90,000 people. That amount would be fairly respectable were it not for the large amount of publicity and hoopla surrounding the event. Given the resources put towards promoting this event, it should have drawn a much larger crowd.

The usual suspects are trying to exaggerate the number of people attending the event, with the usual results. There have been so many historic rallies on the National Mall that there are always a number of pictures of past crowds that can be used as benchmarks. Here's a picture of yesterday's rally by Glenn Beck:

This is what 85,000 to 90,000 people on the National Mall looks like.

Now here's a picture from the same angle of the original "I have a dream" rally:

The crowd size at this event, the "March on Washington," was estimated to be 250,000, or about three times that of Glenn Beck's crowd. Moreover, this crowd was assembled without the assistance of large corporate donors, without a cable news channel pimping it, and at a time when travel across the segregated South was not always easy for African Americans.

Set in the wider context of relative resources expended, media support, and relative difficulty in travel, Beck's event ought to be seen for what it was: a bit of a fizzle.

Hat tip to Charles Lemos at MyDD and Lowell at Blue Virginia.

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