Thursday, October 15, 2009

Half of America Marches on Washington

I didn't pay a lot of attention to last weekend's Equality March on Washington, though I did notice that almost none of the online commentary I saw ventured to give numbers. "Thousands" was the word I usually saw; not even "tens of thousands." That suggested to me that the turnout was pretty small. Finally I found an article on the New York Times site which informed me that, according to the march organizers, "at least 150,000 people had attended, though the authorities gave no official estimate of the crowd size." That's a respectable figure. Even if you allow for the overcounting that organizers are often accused of, and cut the figure in half, you've got about as many people as turned up for the Teabaggers' in Washington rally a month ago: 1.4 million in Michelle Malkin numbers, 70,000 or so in real world people. (Note the difference between the lead and the picture caption in this article.)

But the key issues that the march was about -- marriage and the military -- are not issues I care about, and in fact I'm dubious about them. The main thing that caught my attention before the march took place was the contemptuous attitudes expressed to the march by what might be called the gay establishment, if we had such a thing. Barney Frank confirmed my low opinion of him with his snide remark, "The only thing they’re going to put pressure on is the grass." If you want hilarity, though, here's what he said on Michelangelo Signorile's show: "Barack Obama does not need pressure." I'd say that pressure is exactly what Obama needs. Lots of it, on a variety of issues.

Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign chided marchers to give President Obama a little time: "'It’s not January 19, 2017,' he wrote, referring to what would be the last day of Mr. Obama’s presidency if he were to win a second term." Right, and exactly how does Solmonese suggest that we pressure Obama after he's left office? (Oh, I haven't mentioned Obama's speech to the HRC on the eve of the march. Haven't watched the video, haven't read the transcript. Excerpts, and Jon Stewart, indicate it is more of the same hot air the man can deliver in his sleep. Maybe I'll look at it more closely some other day.)

One response that drew some attention (I can't now find where I first read it, but here's a source) was an anonymous Obama "adviser" quoted by CNBC's John Harwood jeering at the marchers as the "internet left fringe" who need to "take off the pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely-divided country is complicated and difficult." The marchers were in their pajamas? Harwood later explained:
"My comments quoting an Obama adviser about liberal bloggers/pajamas weren't about the LGBT community or the marchers," he wrote. "They referred more broadly to those grumbling on the left about an array of issues in addition to gay rights, including the war in Afghanistan and health care and Guantanamo -- and whether all that added up to trouble with Obama's liberal base..."
Oh well, that's all right, then: I already knew that Obama despises the left. And why not? How many votes can we deliver, after all? Not many. So I guess he won't want my vote in 2012. That part at least will be easy.

A White House flack tried to do damage control:
In a comment to Greg Sargent of The Plum Line, White House senior communications director Dan Pfeiffer basically refuted the report.

"That sentiment does not reflect White House thinking at all, we've held easily a dozen calls with the progressive online community because we believe the online communities can often keep the focus on how policy will affect the American people rather than just the political back-and-forth," Pfeiffer emailed.

I liked Jon Stewart's take on the march and the coverage it received, though (via).

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Dan Choi is very cute, and inspires all manner of unclean thoughts in my mind, but he really should keep that gag on. Dan, you did not "defend" or "protect" America in Iraq. You were part of an aggressive invasion (and now occupation) force that had and has no business being there. Waving your patriotism around just makes me more sure that the Equality March was not for me.