Earlier today, Politics in Minnesota's Morning Report "Best of the Blogs" recommended Apparently the GLBT movement is dead, too, a post at the site kept by Michael Brodkorb's pet blogger. The entertaining piece illustrates the writer's rhetorical virtues as clearly as anything he's written of late.
Indeed, the short entry pulls together most of the blogger's stylistic graces. Read this post at Shot in the Dark, and you probably never need read another word the radio and social media personality commits to the ether.
The post compares Saturday's tea party rally with the OutFront Minnesota rally on Thursday.
First, it describes Saturday's event. Both the blogger and the press center on the excuses for a poorly-attended rally. Fox News 9's St. Paul Tea Party Rally Draws Smaller Crowd, describes the crowd as a "vocal group of dozens." As the screenshot above shows, the station named the lack of a keynote speaker and the weather as dampening attendance.
It was 33 degrees at noon, when I spoke, and there was snow on the ground, and a cold wet wind was howling from the north giving wind chills in the teens. Not prime rallying weather. More like Valley Forge.
That's the writer in the screenshot to the right, bundled up against the snow on the ground behind him (larger, long shot of Saturday's rally itself in the top screenshot).
Given the blogger's heroic prose, it's surprising that the dozens gathered weren't building little huts and drilling with their own Baron von Steuben.
Weather Underground's historical records for Saturday show that the high temperature was 42 degrees, the low 31, and the mean 37. The wind averaged 13 mph. A total of .02 inches of precipitation fell.
The impetus for the blogger's hyperbole and self-pity is a Star Tribune article, Attendance down at Capitol Tax Day rally. He doesn't link to the article, which also touches on rallies elsewhere in the country. Reading the Strib piece, one wonders what purpose the umbrage at the reporter serves, save to set up the hit on another rally earlier in the week, for GLBT equality.
Weather Underground's records for Thursday, the day of the earlier rally, show that high temperature was 48, the low 35, and the mean 42. The wind averaged 12 mph. A trace of rain fell (it was mixed sleet and snow at times during the rally). In short, Saturday was five-to-six degrees colder than Thursday, but both were well below the average high for this time in April, the mid-fifties.
But in the creative nonfiction at Shot in the Dark, Thursday was one of those average April days:
By the way, an observer at the Capitol told me that attendance at the annual LGBT rally with Governor Dayton was “way down” from previous years.
Is it because the gay rights movement is dead?
Or is it because it’s an off-year, and the weather was in the fifties and “wind-swept?”
The blogger shares an unnamed observer's thought that attendance at the OutFront Rally was "way down."
How big was the weekday crowd? Dozens, like that on the weekend? Fox News 9 doesn't have a clip up of Thursday's rally that I could find, but a short article on the station's website puts attendance at "about 1000."
In Soldier's father, Gov. Dayton rally for gay equality, KARE-11 reported on Friday:
Gov. Mark Dayton Thursday became the first sitting Minnesota governor to speak at Outfront Minnesota's annual gay equality rally. The event, for gay persons and their straight supporters, drew nearly 1,000 persons to the Capitol on a cold and blustery day.
The Star Tribune's item, in the Hot Dish blog, reported the same crowd numbers: about 1000. No online article for Outfront!
I attended Thursday's rally, and the numbers seem about right, though I was taping speeches and didn't do my own count. I haven't been at earlier rallies, so I don't know if the turnout is "way down" from earlier efforts. Last year, the Minnesota Independent reported "several hundred" rallied.
The conservative blogger's crowd estimate, much like his assessment of the weather on both days, shows a certain poetic flourish. Indeed, had the Tea Party Tax Day rally attendance only been that "way down" (to 1000) on Saturday, I suspect that his description of the weather would have prompted comparisons with the winter of 1941 or 1942 during the Siege of Leningrad rather than the sojourn at Valley Forge during a moderate Pennyslvania winter.
But Berg may be right. Weather might explain it all. Our own long cruel winter may have thinned the Tea Party ranks in Minnesota, and though that faction may have turned down government aid to make it through, certainly they are as resourceful as those Russians were once the cats and dogs were gone.
Selfishness is, after all, a virtue.
On the other hand, perhaps if the St. Paul Tax Day Tea Party had cancelled their rally like the fair-weather patriots in Rochester, the Twin Cities media could have devoted feature after feature to the non-event, following the lead of the Post Bulletin, which published three articles about the group after it was a no-show because of a little rain. Perhaps the metro Tea Party can learn from their experience.
Update: Fibonacci Blue, who photographs nearly every protest action in the Cities, left an interesting comment contrast the Tea Party Tax Day event with a February union action on the same spot in February:
Here are some similar thoughts about crowd sizes and weather with some pictures.
There was a pro-union rally in February where a larger crowd fought through unshoveled steps and snowbanks to see the speakers. If people are motivated, weather is less of a factor.