Sunday, November 9, 2008

Celebrating Victory With Barack Obama

It was a long night on Tuesday, but worth the wait. We went to the Democrats Abroad pre-election party and had a few beers to loosen up nerves that were tense even though we were all pretty confident about the outcome of the vote. Comrade Jen G. had to take it easy because she had been selected to debate the head of Republicans Abroad later in the evening. The debate took place at GZ Riesbach here in Zurich, at an SP election night party. The Republican dude was let off easy because everybody knew his sorry ass was going down anyway, and the other panelists were (unnecessarily) gracious, leaving the booing and ridicule to an audience of 99% Obama supporters. Jen turned on her considerable charm while the Republican became increasingly irritated, ending up with a beet-root red face (tsk, tsk, those angry white men).

I went home at 4:30am local time, when Pennsylvania and Ohio were called for Obama and it was increasingly clear that McCain was not just going to lose, but was losing in a landslide. Walking home along the lake in the cold November morning, I felt very tired but cheerful - not necessarily elated... but as I came home, my dear lady (who had left the party early and nodded off watching the election coverage on the sofa) told me that CNN had just officially declared Obama the President-Elect.

John McCain gave a remarkably graceful
concession speech before a crowd that was visibly reeling between shock and anger that the impossible had happened - enraged bellows were heard as McCain said he had called Obama "to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country we both love". Buh-buh-but... isn't he a Muslim communist?! Like many others, I felt that the race would have been a much closer one had McCain not pandered to the lunatic base of his party by insinuating that Obama was some kind of strange, radical alien - and nominating a dumb Pentecostal gasbag for VP, of course.

Obama's acceptance speech was tremendous in form and delivery. It allowed even me, a cynical political junkie, to set aside for a few minutes the terrible disappointments, shortcomings, and mistakes that the next four years will undoubtedly bring, and to imagine for a brief moment that change for the better is possible - that the problems we are currently facing can be resolved with intelligence and goodwill, and that as both Abraham Lincoln and Bob Marley have observed:
It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time;
you can even fool some of the people all of the time;
but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
Anyway, on Wednesday morning or rather around noon, I woke up feeling quite good about the world I live in, and after work, Jen (who hadn't slept all night), Manu, and I decided the time was right for a glass or two of celebratory prosecco at Safari... and since Obama deserved a few beers after two years of hard campaigning, we thought it would be a nice gesture of our appreciation to ask him to come along. Imagine our surprise when Barry said he was going to leave the nomination of his chief of staff for another day and hit the bar with us.

It didn't take long before old Barack was more than a little sozzled and started mumbling into his beer about how "that honky bastard Dubya" had stuck him with a country in tatters, a divided society, and an economy that was "totally roached", and how once again it was the black man who was going to have to "clean up their shit after them". Fortunately, he soon cheered up and started flirting with Comrade Jen, who was not completely averse to his advances (she likes tall dark guys, which is why George Clooney didn't stand a chance with her at the Geneva fundraiser held by the Democrats Abroad).

After we had left the Safari Bar, Barry wanted to go to a strip club, but we convinced him this was probably not a good idea (though part of me was screaming at myself that we could take photos and sell them to Fox News for a fee that would put not just our children, but our grandchildren through university).

Instead, we went to the Kon-Tiki Bar, where Obama has some fans too. While the Safari bartender had offered him a beer on the house, the pierced/tatooed/redheaded lady behind the Kon-Tiki bar stood us a round of suspicious-looking red drinks that seemed to be vodka-based. By this time, Barack was totally relaxed and decided he wanted to play some good music on the jukebox. He put on "Paint the White House Black" by George Clinton and started laughing hysterically, shouting something about how he would have liked to "buy that crazy-ass bitch Hillary a quart of rye whiskey if she were here right now."

Afterwards, we went to the Regenbogen Bar, where the election night warm-up party had taken place. All night long, we had been making new friends and getting big smiles from absolute strangers. In this bar, we got into an argument with a belligerent jerk who took the whole thing a little too seriously. The less said about that conversation, the better - all I want to add is that apparently you can hang out in a chic gay bar and still be a nasty, uptight, angry asshole. Who knew.

In traditional continental European style, we wrapped up the night in a kebab shop, where the döner jockey announced that Obama was "far too thin" and needed to "get some meat on that skinny frame". By this point, Barack seemed to be getting a little bleary-eyed (he had taken off his glasses, as you can see) and his grin was starting to look unnaturally fixed, so we decided to head home after one more round of beers. Outside, another group of complete strangers (they looked decidedly Middle Eastern) begged him to have their picture taken with him.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable night out with Barack (or "Hussein", as we, his friends, call him), and to paraphrase his already legendary acceptance speech in Grant Park on the night of 4 November... if there is anyone out there who still doubts that this is a president you would like to have a beer with, tonight was your answer!


G-roooo said...

what great pictures... and what a fantastic way to give obama a celebration - I think we got him a little wasted and chances are he does not recall any of it :)

Manu said...

Great pictures of a great night! But Barry needs to work on his drinking skills...