Not that they needed it, but for one group of Democrats, Donald Trump's Inauguration seemed like a pretty good excuse to drink.
“We're here tonight for our Irish Wake to finish our grieving and use our Jameson and our Guinness to say goodbye to our crying and our concern for our terrible year we had in 2016,” said Stella O’Leary, the president of The Irish American Democrats, a political action committee that hosted the “wake” at a bar Saturday night.
Irish-Americans have been a pillar of the Democratic Party since the rise of Tammany Hall and the party’s other urban political machines in the 19th century. While they’re losing Joe Biden and man who’s sometimes called himself “O’Bama,” Irish Democrats have “far and away” to most members of Congress of any ethnic group in the party, according to the PAC’s website.
“The strength of the Irish is we know how to deal with a bully. We have a lot of experience with bullies. The Irish can take care of this,” said O’Leary.
In keeping with the merrymaking tradition of Irish wakes, the Guinness flowed as a band led the crowd in rollicking Celtic tunes. The mood, and police badges on the wall, were a reminder that as much as Irish Democrats may dread Trump, they are far from the most vulnerable population in the Democratic coalition.
The stage at Kelly’s Irish Times, a bar near the Capitol, displayed a large green banner that read “Clinton 48% Trump 46%” to remind everyone that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in November.
The eulogy Saturday was to be given by Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland who ran for president last year but dropped out after failing to crack 1% in the Iowa Caucuses.
But after the huge turnout for the Women’s March on Washington earlier Saturday, O’Malley didn’t feel like mourning anymore. “I don’t see this as a wake, I see it in other Irish terms. This is the first day of the resistance!” he said to cheers.
O’Malley, who also fronts a Celtic rock band, strapped on his guitar and played some tunes.
Asked by NBC News about his frequent trips to Iowa — two to Davenport alone in just over a month recently — O’Malley smiled and said, “I made a lot of friends in Iowa. When they ask, I come.”
“As for the question of whether I might run for president again in 2020, I just might,” he added.