John McCarthy , a sophomore politics and theology major, and Peter Rescigno , a sophomore politics and Spanish major, were featured in a May 8 Chronicle of Higher Education article about their friendship despite different political affiliations. See the story below.

From: Chronicle of Higher Education Date: May 8, 2011 Author: Don Troop

If you want a friend in Washington, forget the dog. Two Catholic University sophomores from opposing political parties are evidence that a lively sense of humor and a genuine mutual respect may be all that it takes to rise above the left-right fray.

Peter Rescigno is chairman of Catholic's College Republicans, and John W. McCarthy leads the College Democrats. They also happen to be roommates and best friends, Northeasterners who share their Roman Catholic faith and a passion for political debate.

When the student government, on which they both serve, voted re­cently to replace Styrofoam food containers with a corn-based alternative, the two found themselves-as usual-on opposite sides.

"Peter's exact words were, 'I love Styrofoam,'" says Mr. McCarthy.

Mr. Rescigno argues that environmental rules must start small if they are to be effective. And he doesn't really buy the science behind climate change anyhow.

"There's just something about a corn fork," he says. "When you shove it in a piece of chicken, all the prongs bend. And when you cut the chicken with a corn knife, one time through and the knife's dull."

"That's not true!" his roommate retorts.

Mr. Rescigno continues: "I don't want to sacrifice that type of luxury for ... for ..."

"For the environment?" Mr. McCarthy says in mock helpfulness. "Essen­tially what he's saying is he cares more about his own comfort."

The two first jousted in a politics course as freshmen. Mr. Rescigno, a politics and Spanish major, sat with several friends, and Mr. McCarthy, a politics and theology major, found himself engaged in regular debates with the group. Some people "got nasty about it," he says. "We just thought it was funny, and once it was over, it was over."

Both men had internships on Capitol Hill, and soon they found themselves hanging out and sparring. By their sophomore year, the two had become roommates, and in March they were elected to their party leadership posts. It is an unusual situation, and both admit to commiserating occasionally.

But more often than not, the two are engaged in a rapid-fire political discourse that keeps each one on his toes.

"We always ask each other, 'Why?' says Mr. Rescigno. "We'll find holes in each other's arguments."

Mr. McCarthy notes that most of their debates center not on specific issues, but on the proper role and size of the federal government.

One point on which they agree strongly: the mission to get Osama bin Laden. As fifth graders on September 11, 2001, they watched endless replays of the collapse of the World Trade Center. Bin Laden's death last week represented a degree of closure, Mr. McCarthy says.

"We had lost that great American spirit, and now I think we've kind of regained it."

He and Mr. Rescigno were among hundreds of college students in the Washington area who celebrated outside the White House after Mr. Obama's speech last week. Like many, they were studying for finals, and Mr. Rescigno, feeling the pull of his books, nearly stayed home.

That's when his best friend looked at him and said, "This is going to be a 'Where were you?' moment." Finals could wait.

Related News