Last night at a party in its SoHo loft, the Huffington Post's sister site 23/6 brought in President-Elect Barack Obama in style. Dorm-room style, but, hey, that's a style. The only thing missing was the bong water (though the occasional whiff of marijuana floated over the crowd). Keg beer spilled out of freshly minted plastic cups emblazoned with the 23/6 logo on one side and slogans such as "Drink until you look like John McCain or feel like Cindy," and "Courtesy of RNC drinking fund." Vaguely pissed-off looking hired hands (young ladies in black skirts and cardigans) pumped the kegs and kept a seemingly bottomless supply of pizza coming.
At the stroke of 11 p.m., after the New Year's Eve-style countdown to the last poll closing, the packed house erupted when Obama was projected the winner of the election, just as crowds all over the city did. A life-size cardboard Sarah Palin standee bobbed over the crowd, looking like nothing so much as a blow-up doll—sex toy as candidate—and attendees continued in their jubilation. Then something that might strike you as odd happened: The crowd—drunken interns, various political bloggers, the guys from Thrillist, wonks, frat boys, one goth guy with his arm around his Asian girlfriend wearing impossibly short Daisy Dukes, journalists, politicos, media planners, out-of-work magazine writers, comedians—chanted in unison: USA, USA, USA.
But it made sense in a strange way. These were, for all intents and purposes, the same people who wanted McGovern but got Nixon; wanted four more years of Carter but got Reagan; wanted Gore but got W. They had taken America back.
Someone popped the cork from a bottle of champagne spraying the chanting crowd, some of whom even pumped fists like extras in a Rocky movie. Something had changed immediately, as soon as the networks crowned President-Elect Obama: The words "Proud American" no longer conjured images of a guy in a Rangers jersey sitting on his couch watching Nascar and eating junk food. The drunk interns cried. The wonks stood in blue ties slightly dumbstruck. The goth guy posed for a picture in front of the CNN screen projecting Obama the winner, and the crowd chanted.