The Use and Misuse of Beer
You may have missed this.
- Do the reporters get to deduct state and local taxes from their tab?
- Why aren't they including payroll taxes in their bar tab accounting?
- Why isn't she calling the four poorest reporters "bloggers," since we all know who she's talking about?
- Is anyone drinking Russian beer and if so, who?
- Why did Sarah Huckabee Sanders drag beer into this?
I'm only half-kidding on that last one. Politicians have routinely used beer as a prop in their theatrics. Bill Clinton downed a pint with Vaclav Havel in Prague in 1994; the Yale-educated son of a president, George W. Bush, managed to get elected because the campaign continued to ask, "who would you rather have a beer with?"; Obama engineered perhaps the worst set-piece of his presidency with the "beer summit"; and who can forget that moment in 2008 when Hillary attempted to woo pre-Trump voters in the rural north by appealing to them as the "beer and a shot" candidate?
Why beer? It's interesting how the fortunes of alcohol have changed in a century. A hundred years ago, Americans outlawed it; now they use beer to explain tax policy. This has less to do with the alcohol--though Sanders, nodding to her evangelical father, acknowledges that element--than its symbolic power. Politicians think beer bespeaks blue collar authenticity, the drink of the everyman. (That Sanders harnessed it to sell a tax cut for the cognac-tippling wealthy is ... curious.) In the politician's grab bag of easy symbols, beer is like a pair of jeans, a hunting rifle, steel-toed boots, a pick-up truck. Wine is sometimes used in these analogies to mark fancy elites (almost always when talking about one's opponent); it says cravats, mustache wax, chauffeurs.
I have my doubts voters see it that way, and I'm certain they can see right through these lame attempts to borrow its cred for political purposes--in much the same way an average human cringes when confronted with a politician in jeans. If you can make it through that all four minutes of Sanders' tortured analogy, you're a stronger person than I. Nevertheless, that's what beer has become in American politics--a quick way to signal how simpatico you are with the ordinary man.
That said, you do have to admire Clinton's beery moment; dude could fake authenticity better than anybody in the business.