Views and Booze

FM's foray into the world of inebriated politics

Arielle J. Cohen

The campus politicos outside the bar.

In the shadow of the imposing facade and trademark golden dome of the Massachusetts State House lies the beloved watering hole of Boston’s most dedicated politicos. The 21st Amendment Bar is a politician’s mecca, and a tribute to every frat boy’s and state senator’s favorite constitutional amendment—the repeal of prohibition. FM decided to introduce a few Harvardians to the new and exciting world of Boston’s political party scene—no, not those parties. Who better to sally forth into this unknown world of firm handshakes, scotch on the rocks and cigar smoke, but the young, ambitious and ever opinionated members of Harvard’s political student groups.

After a few awkward moments waiting by Out of Town News, this motley crew of argumentative youth was assembled and ready to hit the T. Not long after we passed through the MBTA turnstiles, the debates were already raging. A casual conversation on the role of the Undergraduate Council in politics and student life evolved into a passionate argument about Harvard’s ROTC policy quicker than anyone who doesn’t pronounce their “r’s” could say, “Charles/MGH.”

“We need to stand by our values of non-discrimination,” said R. Gerard McGeary ’04, president of the Harvard College Democrats.

“But why penalize someone for making the ultimate sacrifice,” quickly retorted Eric R. Trager ’05, an active member of the Harvard Republican Club. “Instead of I-banking they’re now sacrificing to be tools of our foreign policy. To not give them the respect of being a valid club on campus is totally unjustified.”

Theresa M. House ’04, the lone female and a solid Democrat, had McGeary’s back. “Harvard crams diversity and toleration down our throats,” she said. “They’re central pillars of its philosophy, therefore the college needs to say no to ROTC.”

Upon entering the 21st Amendment, the debate lulled momentarily as we were shown to a cozy set of tables in the back of the dimly lit bar. The Tudor-style windows were left ajar so that passersby could hear Harvard’s boisterous contributions to the pantheon of political theory. The ROTC discussion degenerated into yells of “I think you’re wrong!” and, “Of course you do, you’re a Democrat!” It was clear that this debate would not die without an interruption—so the first round of drinks were ordered. These politicians-in-training obviously didn’t need any alcohol to loosen their tongues, but we anxiously anticipated what would be unleashed when Sam Adams and José Cuervo joined the roundtable. We gave the group what we imagined to be classic IOP drinking game selections: Do, dump or marry: Margaret Thatcher, Jacques Chirac and Ariel Sharon.

Self-proclaimed Libertarian Josh A. Barro ’05 got things going, flatly refusing to participate by saying, “I can’t do this! They’re all over seventy!

“Ha-ha, Republicans hate old people! Watch out AARP,” taunted McGeary. Ultimately Barro conceded that he would “do Sharon, even though he is disgusting.” Or more accurately, according to Republican Club member Matt S. Moon ’05, “he’s put-a-paper bag-over-his head disgusting!” Barro would dump Chirac, simply stating, “He’s French!”

“What? I’d marry Jacques,” said McGeary. “He’d cook good crepes every morning.”

“I do like crepes, but I live a block from Arrow Street,” Barro said, shutting him down.

House then lent her female perspective, shedding some important light on the subject of doing, dumping and marrying. “Dump Sharon because he’s an asshole!” said House.

“Dump Sharon because of what he did to Syria!” said Moon.

Trager, an active member of Harvard Students For Israel, was quick to come to the prime minister’s rescue with a marriage proposal. “I’ve met him and he’s a nice guy!”

“Are you kidding, he would definitely get thrown off the mother-fucking cliff, even if he is a ‘nice guy,’” posited McGeary. All was temporarily forgotten when the waitress brought McGeary and Trager matching Bailey’s on the rocks, and the two shared an amicable toast.

With Do, Dump, or Marry wearing out its welcome, FM turned to a more erudite topic—Arnold Schwarzenegger: Hot or Not. “The recall is bullshit,” McGeary yelled, looking up from his third (or was it fourth?) drink of the night. Gerald E. Wootten ’05, active with Harvard Model Congress, ventured to expand on this eloquent point. “I believe in direct democracy to the farthest degree possible. Removal of elected officials is not justified unless they did something wrong,” he said.

Barro, for one, commented that he “was surprised at those who were still pro-recall after the Schwarzenegger victory.” After all, he said, “They got so badly bitch-slapped.”

A little American history survey of everyone’s favorite amendments then revealed the shaky underpinnings of these young pols’ high-flying rhetoric. “I would have to say the 15th, equal protection under the law,” said Moon. “Don’t you mean 14th?” asked Barro. Unfazed, Moon responded with a resounding, “Riiiiiiight.” Jordan Bar Am ’04, a latecomer to Views and Booze and a politically active campus liberal, followed suit with a glowing endorsement of “the second amendment. Oh wait, free speech. The first amendment.” Wootten perked up at the mention of the second amendment, the right to bear arms, while Moon yelled, “Yee-hah!” and reached over to clink glasses with him in approval. “Ooh, can we talk about guns?” asked House. “I don’t like guns, but I shot one once and it was fun. I shot skeet.”

“Yeah, I shoot a lot of skeet,” added Wootten excitedly, apparently eager to share his Southern traditions with the group. “Regular hunting too. Deer, duck, ’coons...”

Carried away by the spirit of the evening, McGeary suddenly decided to take over as interviewer and ask a few probing questions of his own. When “Rock Your Body” started playing on the bar’s speakers, he leapt up from his wooden chair, hand raised with finger pointing to the bar’s low ceiling, reminiscent of Patrick Henry at the Constitutional Convention, and exclaimed, “Time for a straw poll! Justin Timberlake, up or down?” The table was soon abuzz, with comments ranging from the quality of the Justified Tour to whether Christina Aguilera really was a dirty ho-bag, proving once again that it truly is possible for Harvard students to have an informed opinion on anything and everything. After a few more minutes discussing “sketchy voting booth moments,” such as when Trager “dangled [his] chad and everyone saw,” along with the possibilities for presidential candidate Jell-O wrestling match-ups—Al Sharpton’s insatiable appetite gave him a clear advantage—things got a little out of control. When one of our politicos proffered the question of whether Republicans or Democrats were better in bed, the evening obviously had to end. We had achieved our goal of bringing Harvard’s diverse political elements together in a rowdy evening of elevated discourse. As we passed back through the turnstiles at the Harvard Square T station, a member of the Harvard Democrats just beginning his evening pointed at McGeary and called out, “What are you doing with all of those Republicans?” Viewing and Boozing FM style, of course.