Just walking around with this stupid smile

I keep finding myself just walking around with this stupid smile plastered across my face. 

In 1980 my college roommate Mike and I actively campaigned for Jimmy Carter in his re-election bid against Ronald Reagan.  On the night of the election we became the unofficial democratic headquarters.  A huge party was prepared in our big old student digs.  ABC was in the kitchen, NBC the living room and CBS was in the dining room.  There were two half kegs of beer and a trash can full of gorilla (grain alcohol and cherry Kool-Aid.)  You were only allowed into the party if you had a voting receipt.

I was lathering up in the shower when Mike just walked in and threw back the shower curtain.  “Get downstairs,” he said, “he’s resigning.”

Carter got trounced – he resigned before anybody had even arrived at the party  – he resigned before the polls closed in California.   

It was the worse party I have ever thrown.  The only moment of excitement was when our only republican pick won a local seat.  (We hadn’t backed the democrat because he was under indictment.)

That night marked the beginning of a right wing lean that has been pressing on America ever since.  Ever since, that is, until last night when, I think, it was finally exorcised by Senator Obama’s spectacular victory.

Obama 2008

I called Mike at 4am and said, “Can you imagine how awesome our party would have been if we were still 21 years old and our party was tonight?

“You’ve been reading my mind,” was his reply.

Now – I wonder – were does one get a bottle of pure grain alcohol and a packet of Kool-aid here in England?

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15 Responses to “Just walking around with this stupid smile”

  1. Pete Says:

    Hi John,

    A question prompted by deep ignorance of American politics…

    I’ve seen other people mention something similar about this being the end of a period of right-wing domination of US politics. But what I don’t understand is: what about the 8 years of Clinton?

  2. johnlenahan Says:

    Bill Clinton unseated a republican president (the first George Bush) who suffered mostly from not being as charismatic as his predecessor (Ronald Reagan.) Although Clinton inherited a democratic majority in the congress, it didn’t last and he spent most of his presidency battling a very hostile congress that even tried to impeach him.

    Obama I feel has is not just an executive change but a sea of change more akin to the Tony Blair revolution here in the UK.

    Its early days and I am admittedly very starry eyed but let me hold on to the hope that the US is swinging to kinder gentler and smarter philosophy in something other than just name.


  3. tim Says:

    John I am still smiling myself
    – As Bono said after 911 – America is not perfect but the idea of America is perfect -Bush’s presidency was an attack on America more serious than the attack of 911 – now we have a government that knows they are imperfect shooting for the idea.


    Dad would have been so happy – Oh and by the way we get our flag back from the neocons.

  4. johnlenahan Says:

    Dad was the only man I know that voted for McGovern – he would have been delighted.

  5. PeteM Says:

    Thanks for that explanation. Now let’s hope that Obama sticks to his principles rather more strongly than Blair stuck to his…

  6. David Brain Says:

    Johann Hari has written an excellent piece on HuffPo, which ends with the wonderful anecdote that he tried to buy a Stars & Stripes flag, and couldn’t find one – and one shopkeeper told him that in the past everyone was buying them to burn them, and this time they’re buying them to actually display them…

  7. Nadene Says:

    I have been elated with the result….and I am an Aussie!
    I do feel sorry for Obama though. No man no matter how filled with integrity and dedicated is capable of shouldering the burden of expectations people are placing on him – but I am sure he will try……..

  8. Bob McEntee Says:

    John, I was at that party and it has taken 28 years to come out of the closet but I must confess that I voted for Reagan. It was my first presidential election and I could not vote for such a liberal as Jimmy Carter. The country was not prepared for another 4 years of his administration and although some may disagree Reagan was what the country needed. Today I am looking forward to the change from the Bush Administration. I do believe that Obama is special and history will be show us that. However let me be the first to say that if the new very liberal Congress gets what they want it will reflect poorly on Obama and we might be looking at the first female president in 4 years. Bob

  9. johnlenahan Says:

    YOU WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?

  10. MikeCirba Says:

    Bob McEntee…..oooooooo (scary ghost noise as in a Dickens novel)….this is the ghost of the Mike Cirba of the past you knew at Bloombsburg. Just think of bongs and beers and you can probably remember my face through the smoke-filled room.

    ooooooooo….you came to the party and drank all that Gorilla knowing full well you had voted for Reagan?!?

    That’s it buddy…you’re going to be haunted from this moment on. I may even have to whisk you away in the middle of the night to see the terror and horror of a future Palin Presidency and all that it would entail.

    Let’s just say that those Alaskan moose got off easy….the rest of us would survive to rue that day. 😉

  11. johnlenahan Says:

    You know Mike, I think Bob drank almost all of the gorilla that night. I just can’t believe it! Next time you go hunting Mac I hope it’s with Dick Cheney. 🙂


  12. MikeCirba Says:

    Actually, John…

    I now firmly believe that Bobby MAC had to be hitting the Gorilla much earlier that day…if memory serves he was chugging directly from the tipped garbage can.

    And I now firmly believe that if he voted for Reagan in 1980, then he had to be hitting the punch very, very, VERY early that day! 😉

  13. johnlenahan Says:

    Now that I remember it, Bob was the only guy who had fun that night.

  14. johnlenahan Says:

    Pete, I just remembered that one of the main reasons that Clinton won in the first place was because of a third party candidate – Ross Perot – who pulled a lot of conservative votes away from Bush.

    LBJ had a popular vote majority but that was against an doomed Goldwater.

    There hasn’t been a left mandate like this since FDR.


  15. Bob McEntee Says:

    Of course I was hitting it early and often. How else does one handle a secret victory party for one?

    Now Mike Cirba if I remember corectly you were right next to me matching drink (and other) for drink. Bob

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