I watched it on my computer. Estimates are half a million people! An extremely… Protestant event.
I actually enjoyed something that happened just before the rally started:
I watched it on Facebook, and under the screen people across North America were chatting on a constantly updated feed.
Before the rally proper, the camera focused on the podium as staffers milled around the stage.
However, at one point we could all hear the unseen Beck and his staff “behind the scenes,” making last minute preparations.
Needless to say, everyone using Facebook immediately recognized Beck’s voice, and (perhaps dreading a Face in the Crowd moment) started typing:
“Glenn, your mike is open!”
“Somebody tell Glenn his mic is on!!”
Sure enough about 30 seconds in we heard Beck say, “Guys, I hear my mic is on, can you fix it?”
So… 21st century!
And what I wrote a few months ago on the same topic.
UPDATE: J.E. Dyer writes…
The left will do what it’s going to do, but what I’d like to do here is reiterate a point I made about Palin last year to my fellows on the right. The point is this: people like Beck, Palin, and Limbaugh are as much a test of our character as anything else.
Are we so dedicated to a set idea of decorum and credentials that we will close our ears to people who are telling us the truth, because of their social attributes, communication style, and demeanor?
When we see 500,000 or more people turn out on the Mall at the end of August – in the heat and humidity, in a painful recession, after school and sports have already started in many states – are we going to insist that that’s “not conservatism,” that it’s something we need to triangulate away from and reject, because people prayed to God, got emotional, and talked about character?
And if so, what is it we’re waiting for that we think is better?
No existing model of media success would have led him to do what he is doing today: to teach history on his program, to read passages from America’s early texts, to interview obscure academics and little-known clerics, to talk like a fire-and-brimstone preacher about character.
But here he is, and Fox lets him do it. He gets the ratings with what he offers. He reaches more people in one week, with the kind of truth about our history that will only strengthen the political appeal of modern conservatism, than some more-polished legacy conservatives have reached over their entire careers.
He’s meeting a lot of people where they are, in their lives and level of knowledge, rather than despising them for where they’re not. That’s something all of us can profitably ponder.
I don’t agree entirely with the line about “no existing media models”, though: both Archbishop Sheen and Rene Levesque were unlikely television stars who successfully used chalkboards to instruct large audiences about dry topics.