Is there anything in the world more forlorn than a victory party on a losing night?by Erik Tarloff / December 18, 2004 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2004 issue of Prospect Magazine
My wife and I were in Boston, Massachusetts, on election night. Massachusetts is the quintessential blue state, overwhelmingly Democratic: the only state to be carried by George McGovern back in 1972, routinely derided by Republicans as out of touch and elitist, home to Ted Kennedy and gay marriage. Its capital, and John Kerry’s hometown, Boston, is an old-fashioned Democratic stronghold, a city of muscular trade unionists, angry ethnics and more university students per square inch than any other US city of comparable size. Because my wife, Laura Tyson, had been advising the Kerry campaign on domestic issues, we had been invited to join the official festivities. It seemed the right place to be. We were staying with friends across the Charles river in Cambridge, a town rivalled only by our own home of Berkeley, California, for its left-wing purity. In such a place, with Kerry lawn signs ubiquitous, you could almost let yourself believe a Kerry landslide was inevitable – if your heart hadn’t been broken repeatedly in the past.
Our election night turned out to be like Gaul, divisible into three parts. The first was a valedictory conclave of the issues advisers, held in an elegant suite in that slightly faded dowager of Boston hotels, the Ritz Carlton; the second was a small gathering of social democrat types at the Cambridge home of our friends Robert Reich and Clare Dalton, made up largely of friends of Bob who had supported his unsuccessful (but I need to add valiant, since he’s a Prospect subscriber and might read this) race for governor of Massachusetts; and the third was a party for major donors and high party muckety-mucks at the Westin Hotel, back across the Charles river in Boston proper. We crossed the Charles more times that night than events warranted. George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware might have been more arduous, but at least he went on to win the battle.