blog: archive

July 30, 2009


Thoughts About The “Beer Summit”

by Clay Staggs

You know, if beer is involved, I suppose I just can’t resist commenting about it.

I reckon that everyone in America has heard about Gates-gate - that is, the incident concerning Henry Louis Gates, the prominent professor of African-American Studies at Harvard, and Jim Crowley, the cop who arrested Gates for disorderly conduct last week. This was just a local incident until President Obama was asked about it during a prime-time press conference last week, where he commented that Crowley acted “stupidly” in arresting Gates. Obama admitted that he did not know all the facts surrounding the arrest, despite deciding to opine on the policeman’s conduct.

All hell erupted in the press, on cable, and on the web about the incident. The furor was so great, that Obama decided to invite Gates and Crowley to have a beer with him at the White House. Obama says that he hopes this is a “teachable moment” for the country, though declining to say what he thought should be learned.

I do not intend to comment on the racial aspects of the arrest, which, frankly, bore me because everyone projects their own racial views onto the matter. I’m more interested in the politics of it, and, of course, the selections of beer that the participants made.

Put yourself in Obama’s place. You’ve opened up your mouth and stuck your foot in it by commenting on something you admittedly did not have all the facts about in the first place. Therefore, you find yourself in a hole. What is the First Rule of Holes? Stop Digging. Put into the context of this issue, since opening up his mouth and talking about it is what got him into the hole, shutting his mouth would be the equivalent of putting the shovel down, no? I ask you is inviting Gates and Crowley to the White House for beers more or less likely to make the talking heads and bloggers like moi keep talking about it and reminding people of Obama’s boneheaded comments?

Why, oh why, can politicians not learn and live by the First Rule of Holes? It’s really so simple.

But, nevertheless, Obama invited the guys over for beers this afternoon. There’s a picture of the sit-down that the press has released:


Politico has an article that’s pretty boring reading that you can look at here. No earth-shaking revelations. No grand apologies or breakthroughs in racial understanding. Just two really uncomfortable-looking guys with the President and VP who are trying too hard to look comfortable. So, no results, just a reminder of the past mistake on Obama’s part, and keeping the whole thing in the press for another day or two. I thought Obama was a smart politician, but I’m not so sure that if his ego is involved, that his judgment doesn’t go out the window.

Now, let’s get to the really interesting stuff - the choice of beers. First, Gates is said to have selected Red Stripe. That’s a Jamaican lager that’s pretty widely available. If you have a Beer Advocate account (and if you don’t, why not?), you can read the reviews here. It earns a C average. Not so great. For as learned a man as he seems to be, he should have done better. Crowley had a Blue Moon, which BA reviewers give a B-. Better, but brewed by Coors, so there’s only so much that can be done there. Mr. Crowley turns out to have the best taste of the three, though.

Yes, it’s sad, but true. The President of the United States had a Bud Light, which garners a D- (deservedly, I say) from BA reviewers. Honestly, I thought he was supposed to be urbane and sophisticated. What gives with Bud Light? I know it would have to be an American brew, but there are some mighty fine American brews. My wife’s favorite beer in the world comes from Newport, Oregon - a Rogue Chocolate Stout (which earns an A from BA). I recently discovered the Coffee Oatmeal Stout from the Good People Brewing Company in Birmingham. It’s AWESOME (gets an A too). So, having to drink American is no excuse for having Bud Light.

Bad politics and bad beer. Ugh.

Let the flaming from Bud Light drinkers begin.

1. On or around Jul 30, 2009 at 8:49 p.m. Kenny Gilbert said...

I actually think it's a rather politically savvy move. Consider 2007 data from Information Resources, Inc., cited here:

With dipping favorably ratings for the President, tapping (so to speak) into the segment of the population that drinks Bud Light is a fantastic beer, he may just be able to keep his approval rating from dropping below 50%. See:

Me, I don't buy it (so to speak). If I want flavorless carbonated water, I'll drink club soda. If I want something with more "umph" (which I do), I'll try something along the lines of the aforementioned Coffee Oatmeal Stout (is it available now in T-Town? I have a Druid City run planned tomorrow).

2. On or around Jul 31, 2009 at 9:58 a.m. Clay Staggs said...


I had the Coffee Oatmeal Stout on tap at Mellow Mushroom. I know that Buffalo Phil's also has it on tap. I have yet to see it in a bottle anywhere here in town.

As to your point about trying to appeal to Joe Six-Pack, if you must have a mass-brew, at least choose PBR. Last I heard, Pabst was the only unionized brewery left in the US. See, he missed a chance to appeal to his base, too.

3. On or around Aug 2, 2009 at 8:46 p.m. Kenny Gilbert said...


Locations noted. I'll be back again in two weeks (I swear, I did move), and that should provide more opportune time.

Point well taken, as to Pabst. However, Pabst originated in Milwaukee, no? (though it recently moved HQ to Chicago). Neither Illinois nor Wisconsin are swing states as far as I can recall. Missouri is, as I recall, a swing state. (Though at eleven electoral votes, it's not a huge swing state necessarily) I doubt it was so much a move of appealing to his base but rather a move at, as I implied above, expanding his base (the average Joe Six-Pack as it were)

4. On or around Aug 3, 2009 at 5:37 p.m. Maryann Whitaker said...

Okay, new scandal: Beergate. We could probably make something really sensational out of the fact that Obama chose Bud Light, but I suspect it's more that he isn't really a beer drinker. Anyone who eats wagyu beef and caviar would have a hard time convincing a discerning citizen that they drink rot-gut American beer. So, there must be some sinister ulterior motive. Voila, Beergate. My personal favorites are Stella Artois and Corona, but I'll take an MGD 64 in the interest of not facilitating my middle-aged spread.

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