Senators John McCain and Barack Obama stand behind their respective pulpits at the University of Mississippi. Audiences tune in to watch, and Margo O’Hara, like many others across the nation, hosts a presidential debate party in her Uptown apartment. Her guests are friends: film editors, theater crew, Web site aficionados, writers and comic-book gurus. They are, predictably, a liberal lot; the sort who go all-out for presidential debates. “They’re biracial,” explains Eden Robins of the dairy-free tofu cheesecake brownies she’s made, gesturing to the frosted depiction of Obama’s trademark “O.”
Drinking games commence. Swigs are taken when McCain calls himself a “maverick,” or when either candidate mentions “Wall Street” and “Main Street” in the same breath. With wine glasses and beer bottles in hand, the guests cheer when their hometown hero faces his opponent and proclaims, “John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007!” McCain’s comments are met with hisses and flying projectiles.
Afterward, the party travels to the back porch for cigarettes and further political discourse. The fate of Iran’s nuclear program, pork barrel spending, Sarah Palin’s updo. The topic of conversation inevitably shifts to the economy’s nosedive, and Robins says, “I’m so glad my lack of foresight and knowledge about investing is FINALLY paying off.” At that moment, floodlights blind the alley, followed by the robotic bleep of a squad car. “Who called the cops?” one party goes asks.
“Alright people,” a megaphone crackles, and the officer’s disembodied voice betrays a hint of humor. “Let’s take the debate inside.” The neighbors must be Republicans. (Laura Hawbaker)