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O’Malley’s pub, in the tony Jardim Paulista neighborhood, hosted an inauguration party today. The LCD televisions usually show American football, or British football, not politica events, but today was different. So they offered an Obamarama Ding Dong sandwich — Chicago style hot dogs — and did their best to attract a crowd. In fact, only about 15 people showed up, split among Americans, Brazilians and Brits (it was the work day and all), but the place is still in an upbeat mood in the afterwork hour, with red, white and blue balloons everywhere, and the parade being shown live.
In the bar area, conversation is not your typical Brazilian chatter. “Did you see Biden’s wife?” commented Andressa Michelotti, to her friend Rose Cunha. (Jill Biden had just appeared on the widescreen.) “She’s very pretty.”
Of course, they didn’t know a reporter was evesdropping, so they switched quickly to more sophisticated opining. “We expect a different attitude from America now,” said Michelotti, who works at Citi. “To me, it’s a historic evolution.”
In the back room, David Evan Harris, an American, is perhaps the only guy who had been here since the speech five and a half hours ago. He got a masters degree in sociology in Brazil last year, and is back visiting from San Francisco, where he is executive director of the Global Lives Project, an “online video library of human life” around the world. It’s safe to say he’s an Obama supporter: His deck of Obama cards is laid out on the table, along with a copy of the Rolling Stone magazine featuring Obama. Brazilian friends are streaming in and out to say hi.
“I’m really excited and really happy and it’s an exciting day for me,” said Harris, who calls himself “a self-reflexive liberal.” But he has found lefty Brazilians to be quite cynical after electing Lula in 2002 and then watching him shift to the center. He himself worries that Obama is not talking about “withdrawing” troops anymore but shifting manpower to Afghanistan instead. But he’s still staunchly in the “whatever happens, he’s better than Bush” camp.
His friend Barbara Garcia, 26, has two wishes for Obama. “That he ends the war, and closes the prison at Guantanamo.”
On the other hand, as I write this, seven people are now involved in three different conversations around the table, and even though Barack and Michelle are still wacing merrily, no one is talking about America anymore.
David Evan Harris, from San Francisco, has been at O'Malley's put since the swearing-in. (Seth Kugel)