I’ll Drink To That! a day

May 17

FDR_martiniSo? Who Would You Rather Have A Beer With?

Personally, I don’t drink beer. And, of course, that’s a silly way to choose a candidate for any kind of office. But a piece in the New York Times about U.S. Presidents and their drinking habits got me thinking. About drinking. And Presidents. And stuff.

In the 2004 election, a lot of people thought that they’d rather throw one back with Bush (even though he had given up drinking decades before) rather than with Kerry, who they perceived as an flip-flopping elitist who would probably order Chardonnay, then change his mind and get Chablis. He speaks French! He windsurfs! He has a super rich wife, who probably wouldn’t approve of beer. Or you. Definitely not you.

I don’t know what Kerry drinks these days, but he claims he was drinking the night before he took the Military Aptitude Test, and that is why he scored slightly lower than Bush, who apparently could hold his booze in those days. This is known as the Great MAT debate, and the guy with an allegedly slightly higher score — but more important, who is the preferred imaginary drinking companion of many — won the election. All together now: And. We. Know. How. Well. That. Turned. Out.

What’s a citizen to do? This election, we’ve got one candidate, Romney, whose lips shall never touch liquor, or mine for that matter, and another, Obama, who doesn’t really look all that comfortable with a beer in his hand. Although he has been known to imbibe socially acceptable quantities of wine, champagne, margaritas, even martinis.

ObamaToastNews flash: people who don’t have one special drink that they always order are usually moderate drinkers; most lushes are very, very specific. Before he joined AA, my ex used to order a Roy Rob, straight up, very dry, made with Cutty Sark. A lot of them.

Hmm. I have been known to order a very dry martini, straight up, stirred not shaken, made with Belvedere, extra olives. So am I in trouble? No, because I don’t drink every day, and I also have the occasional wine, Scotch, and celebratory glass of champagne. The real clue is the extra olives: no serious drinker ever wants to displace alcohol by adding anything to a cocktail.

But the very pleasant thought of a martini brings me to the real reason for this post (you knew there was a reason, didn’t you?): The article in the Times points out a really interesting face:

Presidents who drink . . .

generally do better than Presidents who don’t.


The best example may be FDR. He looked so at home with that martini, didn’t he? . . .
And most people agree that he was a damn fine president, having merely helped us survive the Nazis and the Great Depression.

Other drinkers who are routinely categorized as superior residents of the White House include Abraham Lincoln, who, although a moderate drinker, had a liquor license (!), George Washington, who liked Madeira, John Adams, whose drink of choice was hard cider (although a tankard a day failed to kept his enemies, of which there were many, away), and Thomas Jefferson preferred a nice Chianti, although not, we can safely assume, with fava beans and liver.

On the other hand, abstainers are not so well judged by history. They include Jimmy Carter, whose vice was lusting in his heart and who removed all liquor from the White House to the horror of many, and William Howard Taft, who lusted after food and consumed vast quantities of it wherever he was.

I’ve never thought about alcohol being equated with greatness, and bear in mind that all the presidents we’ve mentioned —even FDR, who had cases of Scotch delivered to his townhouse just before Prohibition set in — were not problem drinkers. They just liked a snort or two.

Maybe it made them more relaxed. More able to cope with the huge stresses of the Presidency. More able to handle foreign dignitaries at all those formal functions. Unless you’re an alcoholic, how many Thanksgiving Day dinners with your family do you think you could survive without a little Burgundy, Manischewitz or Budweiser to lubricate the occasion?

RomenyCoffeeAnd just as you don’t get to choose your family but you have to make peace with them, and what with all those diplomats at dinner, the new President will have a lot on his plate,. And maybe it would go better with a little drink in his glass.

Or coffee in his cup. We’ll see . . .

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