Orange County Sings the Obama Blues
Election night: Frolicking Dems, Dana unbound, praying for fag hags, and booze all around
ELEPHANTS IN THE WILDERNESS
The mood is understandably morgue-like at the state GOP’s “Victory Party” at the Hyatt Regency Irvine Tuesday night. An array of party leaders and elected politicians give obligatory thanks to John McCain, Sarah Palin and local volunteers. They bemoan the liberal media, the leftist agenda, looming tax hikes, Nancy Pelosi and, of course, the anointed one, Barack Obama. And they acknowledge being a Republican is going to blow for a while. As Orange County GOP chairman Scott Baugh puts it: “We are in the wilderness.”
Thank heavens Baugh’s mentor, Dana Rohrabacher, is here to throw ice water on this pity party.
“Today’s rout was not a rejection of our values,” says Huntington Beach’s Surfin’ Congressman. “It was a rejection of our Republican leadership, make no mistake about it.”
Voters picked up on the “half-hearted” leadership out of the White House and used Tuesday’s election to send a message to George W. Bush, Karl Rove and, yes, Republican nominee McCain, explains Rohrabacher, who concedes not everyone in the Garden Pavilion party room wants to hear his “dose of reality.”
Oh, but do go on.
“This is NOT the media’s fault,” says Rohrabacher, countering claims uttered moments before by Baugh and Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton).
“YES, IT IS!” someone in the crowd shoots back.
“I’m sorry, it isn’t,” counters Rohrabacher, who blames a party that has lost its way. “We were the party of the American middle class for decades and decades. Our party leaders have walked away from the legacy of Ronald Reagan.”
Voters rejected “the elitist approach” embraced by “Karl Rove and this administration,” lectures Rohrabacher.
“John McCain did not represent the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Rohrabacher concludes. “We are the heart and soul of the Republican Party.”
Returning to the podium, Baugh jokes, “We’re trying to get Dana to come out of his shell.”
Other highlights and lowlights:
.Rohrabacher announces that he scored “a substantial victory over my opponent.” That would be Debbie Cook, who Baugh would go on to call “a Democrat, Communist, not very nice lady.” Classy!
.Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, who chaired McCain’s campaign in the state, had just flown in from a “tough night” in Arizona. “The senator thanks you for your service,” he says to stone silence. “As does Governor Palin,” he adds to loud cheers.
.Bins full of hot sandwiches, whole cheese and pepperoni pizzas, and plates piled high with chocolate-chip cookies stand nearly untouched. No one seems to be in an eating mood. But the bar is doling out the cocktails just fine. (MC)
‘I HOPE YOU HAVE A GAY BABY!’
Watching the returns at the Tin Lizzie in Costa Mesa, with an ever-droopier eye toward the Proposition 8 tally:
8:30 p.m.: Sean Musacco, 25, of Long Beach and his friends Aaron Kerspradit, 28, of Mission Viejo, and Gina Robertes, 24, of Lakewood, are gathered at a pool table just under one of the three Samsung flat-screen televisions inside the Tin Lizzie, where they’ve convened to watch the election results roll in—“And to drink,” adds Kerspradit.
The three agree it’s especially disheartening to live in Orange County as LGBT residents, where Yes on 8 signs outnumber the Nos, but all three also agreed that the support for Obama was more widespread than for McCain.
When asked if they were feeling positive on 8, Musacco hesitates: “Uh, we’re hoping.” Robertes takes a glass of white wine from his hand. “There’s more straights than gays, right? And how many fag hags are there?”
8:58 p.m.: Everyone whistles and cheers at the TV as Obama takes the stage at Grant Park—the cheers escalate as he mentions the gay population—and a (generous) lady buys everyone a round of drinks.
9:24 p.m.: Aaron Cirilo, 24, of Costa Mesa, saunters up to me and my Apple in his perfectly ironed vest and tie: “Here’s what I’m doing for Prop. 8. I volunteered, I co-hosted a house party with a friend where we raised over $4,500. Today, I went to the actual poll sites, and I passed out cards to remind people to vote on no 8—but I kept my 100 yards,” he insists. “I rallied; I changed my Facebook status. I e-mailed my parents, who are in support of Prop. 8, and tried to make a good attempt.”
He’s excited. Really excited. And then exclaims, “Here’s a story for you! You love good stories!” He claps his hands and shares: “For my party that I had, I accidentally included my little brother on the e-vite who I haven’t spoken to in eight years since I came out. He said that I should go play in the freeway in oncoming traffic, and that basically me and my fudge-packing friends need to go die . . . sooo . . . it really helped me put a face on the monster that we’re fighting against, and it’s sad that it’s family and faces we’re familiar with,” he says. “But that’s how I’ve been able to continue this fight because I know who I’m fighting against.”
He goes on to explain that even his aunt deleted him off MySpace—and that he’s been alienated by many family members because of his dedication to No on 8. Cirilo punctuates his story with a couple of fist pounds to the bar.
9:34 p.m.: Boos resound as the local news announces that Prop. 8 is coming in at 54 percent yes to 46 percent no, with 22 percent of total state votes in.
10:15 p.m.: Cirilo screams, “I HOPE YOU HAVE A GAY BABY!” at a woman holding a child being interviewed at the Irvine Republican gathering on the local news.
10:30 p.m.: John Mullins, 29, of Los Angeles, has pretty much given up hope, even though the results aren’t all in for Prop. 8. “It’s bittersweet,” he says. “I mean, it’s a great night for the nation, but it’s a really sad night for California.”
11:01 p.m.: Cirilo comes by again and lets me know they just did another round of Obama Bomber shots (courtesy of Felix the bartender), which consists of a shot of whipped cream, Malibu rum, orange juice and Blue Curacao that’s then dropped into a glass of 7-Up. Try it at your next gathering!
11:38 p.m.: The bar’s starting to clear out—and it’s about quitting time for me, too. California’s now at 52.5 percent yes, 47.5 percent no, with 46.8 percent of precincts reporting. Bummer. (VC)
JACKASSES KICK UP THEIR HEELS
Not long after Obama’s acceptance speech, Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) is doing the shimmy-shimmy and high-fiving black guys on the dance floor of Sutra Lounge in Costa Mesa. Patricia Arquette has just announced there’s a press person here from Dubai; an old Vietnamese couple is bumpin’ to the “Obama Obama” A Milli remix, and Jason “Wee-Man” Acuña (of Jackass fame) says to me, after inhaling a big dose of oversized election-night-balloon helium, “It’s going fucking awesome!”
That’s how important everyone feels at the drunken-hot-spot-club-party masquerading as the Democratic election-night celebration. For a lot of the evening, gobs of Democrats with teeny “I Voted” stickers on their sweaters spill drinks on one another as they stand very close together at two different entrances, waiting to get into the party. During Obama’s acceptance speech, Wee Man’s friend almost gets into a fight with someone who apparently pushed him. Leave it to alcohol to collapse the politics of unity.
You could hear it earlier, after Obama’s speech ended, after Loretta Sanchez took the stage, and you can hear it now: a collective, drunken sigh of relief. Not surprisingly, Sanchez and state Assemblyman Jose Solorio won. Debbie Cook came not quite as close as everyone may have hoped to beating Rohrabacher, but thousands of new Democrats have been registered in the county, while only a handful of new Republicans were registered.
Late in the evening, a young Vietnamese television reporter interviews Solorio about the ascendancy of the country’s first black president. Near him, a few young voters with “Vietnamese Voters for Obama” signs giggle and take pictures. Solorio says something about it being time for a president like Obama. On the TV screens behind him, almost paradoxically, the numbers supporting Prop. 8 keep climbing.
At around 1 a.m., the “Obama Obama” remix booms for the fifth time, and cheers of “Yes, we did!” echo from the balconies. Congressional candidate Steve Young waddles out of the club with his wife. Silent TV screens flash images of Obama in front of about a million people in Chicago. In California, it was looking more and more like Prop. 8 was going to pass, but except for the occasional brow-furrowing in front of the TV, there wasn’t much fretting over the news. Obama’s victory was more than enough to keep this crowd partying.
Perhaps it hit Democrats like a bad hangover on Wednesday that the country had taken one huge step forward while the state took one huge step back. (DJA)
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.