CNN had this headline Saturday morning, before Glenn Beck’s thoroughly misguided rally at the Lincoln Memorial: “Glenn Beck rally plans cause a stir“.
Nobody was saying afterward that the rally itself had caused much of a stir.
This, incidentally, was the modest prediction made by the rally’s low-key (and entirely sane) architect-in-chief:
What’s going to happen there will raise the hair on your arms. What’s going to happen there you will never, ever forget and I promise you, then next day when you read about it – if the press covers it – you will say “oh my gosh, I wish I would have been there.” This will go into the history book.
This is Divine Providence. This is the Lord’s hand at work. This is a miracle.
(It is obviously a miracle that so many people take such an obvious lunatic so seriously, but let’s return to the main theme.)
Attendance was certainly much less than the organizers and promoters had claimed to expect.
When they applied to the National Park Service for a permit, the organizers said 300,000 people were expected to attend.
You can feel the presence of the Lord. I mean, the Spirit is so strong. When you two hundred, three hundred, five hundred thousand people on the Mall in that space right there between Washington and Lincoln with the Reflecting Poll – a spiritual space in our nation – the Spirit of the Lord is going to be unleashed like I think you’ve never felt it before
The CEO of FreedomWorks, a key supporter, also said on ABC News that he expected up to half a million people to attend:
During an appearance on ABC News‘s “Top Line,” Freedomworks (sic) CEO Matt Kibbe weighed in on the Glenn Beck “Restoring Honor” rally slated for Saturday.
“As far as I can tell, there’s going to be hundreds of thousands of people tomorrow,” Kibbe said. … Kibbe went on to predict that there would be 400,000 to 500,000 people in attendance — as many as, if not more than, the number of people estimated to have attended Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “I Have A Dream Speech.”
Tea Party activists were also enthusiastic in their probable-attendance hype:
Some “tea party” activists say the event, at which former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is also scheduled to speak, will have a greater impact than last September’s “9/12″ march along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Conservative activists, meanwhile, promise that the rally will show their unity and voice, as last year’s 9/12 event did. Jamie Radtke, founder of the Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots, predicted an event as much as twice as large as last year’s, based on the number of buses that local tea party organizers have chartered (note: The Fire Department estimate of attendance at last year’s rally was 60,000 to 70,000. Unhinged conservative bloggers claimed attendance of 2,000,000. It’s probably a safe bet that Jamie Radtke doesn’t believe the Fire Department estimate and was trying to predict attendance much greater than 140,000.). The Richmond Tea Party alone is sending 15 buses – up from seven last year, she said.
Marcus Kindley, an organizer for Americans for Prosperity in Greensboro, N.C., predicted a similar showing from his region. “There’s a buildup of energy out here of people frustrated because they don’t think Washington’s listening,” Kindley said. “At 9/12, it was a wonderful coming together of people who felt like their voices weren’t being heard. And I think the reason so many more are coming this year is because our voices still aren’t being heard.”
Beck, the third-highest-rated radio personality, has promoted the event relentlessly to his enormous audience. FreedomWorks, the tea party group that staged 9/12, is lending its organizational muscle and grass-roots network.
The only objective estimate of the attendance at Saturday’s rally puts the actual attendance at 78,000 to 96,000:
An estimated 87,000 people attended a rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.
The company AirPhotosLive.com based the attendance on aerial pictures it took over the rally, which stretched from in front of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. Beck and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the rally.
AirPhotosLive.com gave its estimate a margin of error of 9,000, meaning between 78,000 and 96,000 people attended the rally. The photos used to make the estimate were taken at noon Saturday, which is when the company estimated was the rally’s high point.
There doesn’t seem to have been any noticeable increase in America’s honor. I have yet to meet anyone who has said: “Oh my gosh, I wish I would have been there.” And if the Spirit of the Lord was unleashed, nobody seems to have felt it yet.
But perhaps we need to give it a few more days?