They piled their plates high with Kung Pao, beef, veggies and appetizers, and celebrated the recent defeat of Trumpcare.
It's been a tough slog, with many challenges ahead. But Aug. 9 was a night for Democrats from Brookline, Massachusetts to take a breath, dig into some good Sichuan, listen to a pep talk, and enjoy some humor.
"Trump said he was going to drain the swamp?" Tingle asked the audience at one point. "His Cabinet is like the Everglades!"
During an impassioned defense of immigrants, he observed that "perhaps instead of dieting and going to the gym, maybe more Americans should pick fruits and vegetables." After all, he said, "you never see too many overweight migrant workers."
Cindy Rowe, Chair of the Brookline Democratic Town Committee, congratulated invitees in her evites. "You saved the ACA! You saved health care!" she wrote, thanking them for making phone calls to people in Maine, West Virginia and several other pivotal states. Many, she wrote, stayed up late that night, filled with fear as they watched the Senate proceedings.
"Due to your hard work over the last few weeks, millions of people across this country will still have health insurance," she said. "Remember that we truly are stronger together.”
Before introducing former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic Presidential nominee Michael S. Dukakis, she thanked the dinner's fundraising chairs Shelley Crohn, Daniel Fishman and Barbara Scotto; BDTC Treasurer Tom Hallock and Vice Chair Jim Franco; and the restaurant staff, which busily catered to the overflowing rooms.
Elected officials included State Representative Frank Smizik, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey; Democratic State Committee Members John Businger, Ted Gross and Curtis LeMay; and Brookline Selectmen Bernard Greene, Ben Franco and Neil Wishinsky.
Rowe also acknowledged Lisa Kolarik and Alex Borns-Weil, who petitioned the recent, successful Brookline Resolution to Impeach Donald J. Trump.
She said that introducing Dukakis, a Brookline native who graduated from Brookline High School and served on the Brookline Town Meeting, was like bringing over a favorite uncle. But, she asked, while he was the second Greek American governor in U.S. history; who was the first? (Spiro Agnew). What high school teams did he play on? (basketball, baseball, tennis and cross country).
What kind of doctor was his dad? (An obstetrician, she said — so that he could bring more Democrats into this world.)
Beaming from the back were wife Kitty and granddaughter Nora, who was visiting from California.
"There were enough voters in enough states with enough electoral votes to give us Donald Trump as our President," Rowe said to a crowd that did not need to be reminded.
Yet it was SRO by that point, which she said reflected a new, nationwide surge of resistance to a President who, she said, "leads by fear, by discrimination, by turning us against one another."
Not so Dukakis, whom Rowe deemed "Our own anti-Trump, a leader who based his life on bringing people together for smart strategic policy actions that led to increased opportunity and equality in our state."
Dukakis affirmed that he had been a cross country runner — not track, he noted, which was about speed.
"Back then, I liked Sandy Cohen," he recalled, acknowledging her in the room. "But I would hear about her friend, Kitty Dickson."
One day, he attempted to run the Boston Marathon route. "There were no running shoes then," he said. "We ran in Keds."
By the time he crossed the Newton Hills, he was in pain, and thirsty. And there at Cleveland Circle was Kitty Dickson, who ran into the Brigham's Ice Cream shop and got him a cup of water.
As captain of the tennis team, Dukakis had a tennis championship the next day against Malden Catholic. “And I couldn't even walk," he said.
It was on to the politics at hand. "We have this crazy electoral college system that should have been abolished long ago, and that also includes a history of racism," he said.
His second point: "We've got to get serious about a 50-state, all-precincts campaign." Howard Dean, he recalled, utilized that model. "And lo and behold, we took over Congress in 2006, and won with Obama.”
It was a mistake he himself committed in 1992 by heeding broad-based campaign advisors. "I carried West Virginia in my losing campaign," he continued. "I carried Iowa by 10. When you say we're not interested in half the country, that's a recipe for disaster."
Calling Trump "a walking personality disorder," he said Democrats had an unprecedented opportunity to clean house, and cited his students at Northeastern University. "There's an enormous surge of activism, but we've got to do it with precinct captains and block captains, to make this country the great country it is."
Rowe introduced Tingle, who she said was, according to Wikipedia, a comedian and occasional actor.
"I thought that was quite fitting, because as you know, we have in the Oval Office a reality TV star and an occasional president," she said.
"But, unlike the President, Jimmy is well qualified for his job given his background," she said, citing examples:
"He was in a movie called 'By the Sea' -- and since we all know there’s no such thing as climate change on the agenda anymore, all of Brookline might soon be 'by the sea.'”
Perhaps the best of all preparation for these times? "Tingle starred in a documentary called, get ready for it, 'Dammed in the USA,’” she said.
“But while his job might seen easy, it takes a deep foundation in political science to be able to analyze our political situation and find ways to point out the humor and hypocrisy underlying this administration’s decisions.," she added.
"Jimmy has a degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and was the Harvard commencement speaker a few years ago . He grew up in Massachusetts and has a visceral understanding of our state and what it takes for families to make it in our economy. He has a deep-seated sense of social justice from which he draws his values."
Tingle stated that he had never before performed in front of Peking ravioli, and he was off to the comedic races.
"Yes, it's true that I recently received a master's degree,” he began, adding that it was great going back to school at his age. “I got my student ID and the senior discount at the same time," he quipped.
"It's up to us because there is nobody else," he told the crowd. "Two years ago, I was campaigning in Cambridge for Martha Coakley for Governor, but young people were ignoring me. So I started making stuff up.
"Listen, kids, I didn't storm the beaches of Normandy and take on the Nazis for you to not vote," he said to them.
"I did not take a musket ball during the Revolutionary War so that kids in Cambridge would squander their right to vote!"
One of these kids he recalled, actually went over to him and thanked him for his service.
"Look, I know I'm older than them, but 241?" He asked the crowd.
He soon addressed the elephant in the room. "We've got a crazy guy manning the nuclear weapons whose actions could affect life as we know it," he said. "And on the other side of the world, there's Kim Jong Un."
Tingle's interpretations of the political climate had the rooms in stitches. But the former 60 Minutes II commentator’s Humor for Humanity social enterprise, which assists charities and nonprofits, shows that his mission goes beyond laughter.
"Trump said he was going to drain the swamp?" he asked. "His Cabinet is like the Everglades!"
For example: “The Environmental Protection Agency needs to be protected from Scott Pruitt!"
Tingle lamented the lack of response to the recent breaking off of an iceberg the size of Delaware in Antarctica. "Delaware itself could break off from the United States, and people would say 'Gee, Delaware? Have you ever been there? I haven't. Is New York open? Okay, no problem!'"
Before calling it a night, Rowe reminded attendees about the work that lies ahead, including BDTC"s involvement in the Safe Communities Act and the Raise Up Massachusetts campaign to increase the minimum wage.
"Governor Dukakis encouraged us to get on board with efforts to abolish the Electoral College," said Kolarik. "I plan to heed his advice and improve our system so that every vote is of equal weight," she said.
Brookline Selectman Bernard Greene upheld Dukakis' advice to campaign precinct by precinct. "There are Democratic voters who abandoned us in the last election whom we need to recover as voters," he said.
Greene said that although Russia and Comey may have turned the election, Democrats played a role in its outcome as well. "Our priority focus must be to make sure that our voters get out and vote in the midterm and all other elections," he said.
Town Meeting Member Clint Richmond was still chuckling over Tingle's Rick Perry segment, where he had noted that Perry was named the head of the very department that he wanted to eliminate.
"That's an easy job for him. He gets a call? 'Sorry, we're closed!'"
"Jimmy should be President. He is more qualified," said Richmond. "He roasted all the Cabinet members, where I'm not sure Trump could even name them."