All this talk about whether Sgt. James Crowley is racist or whether he “acted stupidly” in incarcerating Harvard professor Henry Gates is distracting from an issue that really matters: beer preference.
Put aside for a moment the constraints of student penury and beer pong. Imagine a situation where you could have a mug of any beer you wanted. Forget Keg N Bottle; you’ve got a bona fide beer genie. What would you choose?
That’s the decision that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Henry Gates and James Crowley faced last week. Obama chose Bud Light, Biden had a non-alcoholic Buckler (owned by Heineken), Gates had a Sam Adams Light (not the previously presumed Red Stripe – racial profiling part deux?) and Crowley chose Blue Moon. Biden’s incriminating loquaciousness explains his choice, and Sam Adams and Blue Moon are acceptable beers. But what irked me and many brew-conscious Americans was Obama’s selection of the so-called King of Beers.
It’s cliché to say that Budweiser is awful. Most beer critics deride it for its overwhelming blandness, and its allegedly impure ingredients have ostracized it worldwide. (If you think the Germans know their beer, consider that as of 2006 Budweiser had less than 1 percent of market share in Germany.)
Perhaps to justify its tastelessness, the marketers at Amheuser-Busch have recently invented a category of their own, labeling Bud the beer of “drinkability,” This is a dubious distinction, to say the least. Does drinkability imply chugability? Similarity to water? However you interpret it, it doesn’t bode well for taste.
So why did Obama choose this beer? There are two potential explanations. The first is that he actually enjoys the taste of Budweiser. This is tough to swallow, and in my view is simply not the case. Imagine a young Barack in his law school days leaving the hallowed campus of Harvard for a drink with his friends. Does he really sit down at the bar and ask for a Bud, the beer of the commercials that had you and all your sixth grade friends screaming “WHAAZZZUP?!”?
Not likely. I’ll settle for the second explanation: His choice was a calculated move meant to connect with America’s working class. A request for, say, an Arrogant Bastard would have exacerbated the notion in the gun-clinging corners of Pennsylvania and elsewhere that Barack Obama is, well, an arrogant bastard. Complaints of the commander in chief’s pretentiousness persist even after he successfully, albeit awkwardly, ordered a cheeseburger from D.C. fast-food chain Five Guys, replete with mustard and jalapeno peppers. (Thank you, CNN.)
Obama, then, has either poor taste or poor judgment. What he does not realize is that it is okay for a president to prefer things that the average American dislikes or can’t afford. One of the reasons that I, and presumably many Americans, voted for Obama was for his remarkable intellect, and it would be perfectly acceptable for him to have a similarly sophisticated palate. I want a president I can look up to and respect, not one who sacrifices his taste buds for the NASCAR fans among us.
So next time, Obama, order what you really want. We won’t be offended. You know very well that it does not take much to top the King.