White House Beer Summit

August 1, 2009

abc_obama_gates_rowley_090723_mnIn one of the biggest non-stories of the year, President Obama met yesterday with the principals in the soon-to-be-forgotten but currently-notorious, racially-charged, violently overblown incident up in Cambridge, in which a black Harvard professor was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly breaking into his own home after a trip abroad, and not reacting well when the police were called in. Our usually well-spoken Chief Executive, remarking that the police had acted “stupidly” in the affair, found himself promptly tasting shoe leather, and hastily invited Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley to the White House to discuss the matter “over a beer,” and perhaps turn bad PR into good PR by creating a “teaching moment” for the Nation. In other words: desperate spin control.

The resulting “Beer Summit,” covered in exhaustively shallow detail by the national media, was frought with symbolism, intentional and otherwise. As a so-called Beer Expert, I feel the need to step in as an analyst, and help you decipher the Story behind the story.  Because while the event may have been nothing more than a feel-good photo-op, the beer selections of the participants say a lot about race and class in this country, and the perceptions of our perceptions about race and class.  So let’s take a look at exactly which beers were called in to grace the nation’s highest picnic table on that fateful afternoon…

President Obama’s beer choice: Bud Light. The message: “I don’t really like beer, but I don’t want to come off as an elitist, wine-drinking douche, so I’ll order the best-known brand in America and hope I poll as a regular Joe, albeit watching his weight.”  The sub-subtext: “I’m still paying for that ‘guns-and-religion’ comment in the PA primary, and  I’m going to need Joe Sixpack on my side to get Health Care passed.” Beeradvocate.com’s review of Bud Light: C (mediocre).

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