Speech Analysis of Jon Stewart’s closing speech at “The Rally to Restore Sanity.”
On a breezy October day in front of a crowd of 215,000 with the Capital Building providing a dramatic backdrop, Jon Stewart explained why we were all there. With only about fifteen minutes left of an entertaining three hour program that included Ozzy Osborne, R2D2, and The O’Jays, Mr. Stewart turned serious and described what he was trying to accomplish with this rally and that while it was and had been fun, it was important that the people who were there, and those watching at home, remember that we could all work together in the United States to get things done. That most of us do every single day.
Jon Stewart was very careful to tell everyone that our country is in crisis. That our country has far to go to get back to anything resembling normal and that times are difficult. But then he explained times are difficult, but that does not mean that we are staring at the end of the world, or even of life as we know it. That we can get past this and get through this and we can come out on the far side, stronger for it.
Mr. Stewart lay into the media with both barrels, lambasting those who are supposed to deliver our news to us as not only unfair and unbalanced, but as over dramatists and reactionaries who are not giving the people of the United States anything resembling true news. “The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems and illuminate problems heretofore unseen, or it can use its magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous-flaming-ant epidemic,” he said, showing his characteristic humor even while expounding on his theory that as a comedian, he is not a politician.
My favorite part of Jon Stewart’s speech was when he played a video of cars merging as the road narrowed from three or four lanes into two as the cars entered a tunnel. Jon made guesses about each driver of each car as they merged, “that’s a school teacher who thinks taxes are too high…there’s a mom with two kids who can’t think about anything else...another car, the lady’s in the NRA. She loves Oprah…An investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah,” and explained that these cars and these drivers at this particular space and time was us. The United States. America. A microcosm of the good and the bad and hateful. Each and every one of us. Mr. Stewart explained that America is a bunch of really busy people trying to get through each day and that we are and that we will and that while it does not appear to be true, we will all be better off in the end, because we can work together and we can compromise and we can accept and learn from each. No matter where we were born, the color of our skin, where we go to church or who we voted for in the last election. That we will be fine. One compromise at a time.