Friday, July 31, 2009

Politically Wise

Every day, there are sensible, even insightful, posts on dailykos. This, unfortunately, is not one of them.

The White House beerfest tonight between President Obama, Officer Crowley, and Professor Gates has been getting a lot of media attention, to be sure. It has also spawned what might be the stupidest criticism of Obama this year, and from a member of his own political party:

In a letter to Obama dated Wednesday, Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal strongly urges the president not to drink Budweiser, now owned by a Belgian company. Nor should the White House consider serving Miller or Coors, Neal writes, both owned by a United Kingdom conglomerate.

Instead, the White House should serve the three men — all with ties to Massachusetts — the local favorite (Sam Adams), not only because of its popularity in the region but also because it remains the largest American-owned and brewed beer, Neal says.

Now, perhaps the genesis of this comes from the fact that Congressman Neal has his first Republican opponent since 1996, and thus felt that a good pander was in order to the hometown brew (although his district is actually to the southwest of the Boston metro area).

But, really, Congressman? Dinging the President for his choice of beer? The President has the fairly inspired idea to bring a simmering culture battle to a halt over a cold one, and you feel the need to pen a letter criticizing him for not patronizing a brewer in your home state? I know members of the House are supposed to have parochial interests, but this is one step beyond ridiculous.

I would fully expect some right-wing mouth-breather to go after Gates for his choices of Red Stripe or Beck's (beers from decadent, foreign lands like Jamaica and Germany are so thoroughly anti-American).

But actually taking the time to write a letter to the President to steer him away from Bud Light?

Was Wednesday that slow a day in the halls of Congress?


This is truly one of those beachfront property in Arizona items. Hey, I understand someone not understanding that this "simmering cultural battle" is a mere drop in the bucket compared to America's great sin of racial discrimination. Morevover, I realize a U.S. representative from Massachusetts (even if not facing a tough re-election battle) is less concerned with the origin of the alcoholic beverage served than with currying support of the electorate.

But to believe that Barack Obama's primary purpose in hosting yesterday's staged event was to strike a blow for racial comity? Give Obama credit- according to Sgt. Crowley in his post-drink press conference, the President allowed Gates and Crowley to do most of the talking. Nevertheless, recognizing the political value of the beerfest, the President situated Obama, Biden, Gates, Crowley counter-clockwise. Wisely, black-white-black-white; or if you prefer, white-black-white black. Not the best, however, if, the primary consideration was facilitation of conversation between the two principals (Gates and Obama). I'm not being critical here; in a similar situation, I would have done the same, and so would you have, and all Presidents with an IQ ranging at least into the high double digits.

But can we liberals not be such knaves? Any beer in the world available to him- to them; and our President chooses Bud (light)? Budweiser may be owned by a foreign company, but in the eyes of many Americans it is as American as Coke, Wal-Mart, or marrying your high school sweetheart (always referred to as "sweetheart," never as the less endearing "girlfriend"). And for a Hawaiian-born President under attack for being born in Kenya and bludgeoned for supporting a black professor from the Ivy League over a white police officer, the choice of beer and seating arrangements is strategically critical.

The United States continues to hemorrhage jobs in light mostly of the recession, but also because of outsourcing and offshoring. A Democratic politician recommends that the President of the United States be photographed hosting a party featuring regional beer(s) brewed in America? And that is supposed to be--- bad? Really, ideological considerations aside, it's not politically savvy to imply that only "right wing mouth breathers" are concerned that jobs should remain in the United States.

There once was a time that liberals consistently were in favor of jobs remaining here- and those who are pro-union, generally concerned with the shrinking of the middle class, still are. And for a party (Democratic) and a movement (liberalism/progressivism) periodically tarred with the accusation of being un- or anti- American? Display of products brewed in America by American companies (such as this one, from the D.C. area, and this one, from the Chicago area) could only have been productive. (And Coors, given the thumbs down by Rep. Neal- what a union record!)

Admittedly, there were only three beers and one near-beer involved in yesterday evening's affair. Still, in an event that is so fraught with symbolism that a presumably serious blogger can seriously refer to it as "a fairly inspired idea to bring a simmering culture battle to a halt," surely there was room for appearance of a product(s) originating in the United States of America.

Think that emphasis in this blog or in the mainstream media on this gathering is unhelpful? Or that Barack Obama is unaware of the political value of the guys getting together for a cold one (in the summer, outdoors in the District of Columbia?)? Your concern should be allayed. Republican Party head Rush Limbaugh began his daily period of invective today by decrying emphasis on what happened yesterday, and promptly segued into his routine denunciation of the evils of providing health care for American citizens. If the hyper-partisan Limbaugh is disturbed at the attention given to last night's gathering on the White House lawn, Barack Obama surely saw the advantage to the display of male testosterone.

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