Monday, April 21, 2008

Is there anything it can't do?

When it comes to electing a President, conventional wisdom holds that one of the major factors voters consider is the "who would you want to have a beer with" test.

George W. Bush always scored well in that department. Especially when compared with Al Gore and John Kerry.

The Democrats appear to be headed toward another unfavorable matchup in this department. John McCain is married to the chair of the board of one of the largest beer distributorships in the country.

And now, Barack Obama is fighting off questions of being elitist and out of touch. And while the thrust of these charges is due to his distracting words, Obama cannot escape the botched drinking photo-op in Pennsylvania, where he revealed his limited beer knowledge.

[Obama] stopped by a sports bar Friday night to catch a bit of the NCAA basketball tournament. He sipped a Yuengling beer, but his local knowledge fell short when he confessed he didn't know much about the regional brew widely consumed in Pennsylvania.

"You know I got a beer down there," Obama said to a male patron. "What do they call it? A Yuengling?"

"Yuengling," the man confirmed. "Like you didn't know."

"Trying a Pennsylvania beer, that's what I'm talking about," said Obama, his sleeves rolled up, smiling. "Is it expensive, though? ... Wanna make sure it's not some designer beer or something."

And while our natural reaction to any discussion of sitting down and having a drink with a candidate would include a strong revulsion to the idea of doing so with Hillary Clinton - we cannot escape the fact that she has been slamming drinks with abandon.

This has gotten us thinking. In an endless Democratic primary season that feels like it has been running since John McCain's youth, it seems there is little ground yet to be covered. And after twenty-three debates, it would also seem the last thing this race needs is another one.

But perhaps we have the makings of a truly unique opportunity for Democrats to answer the question of who is most electable come November.

Thus let us propose the first "Throw One Back Debate" (sponsorships available!), in which candidates are asked questions by regular people, in a pub-like setting. Whenever a candidate lapses into empty platitudes, meaningless campaign rhetoric, or any other verbal tic that is deemed an attempt to avoid the question or issue at hand - they must take a drink.

Not only would this debate provide us with the invaluable evidence of which candidate would be better to have a beer with, we would see the candidates induced, by virtue both of the format itself and the properties of alcohol unleashed, into having the first open and honest Democratic debate in recorded history.

Alcohol: Is there anything it can't do?

MORE: I QUESTION THE TIMING: Or rue it. Had this idea been implemented in time - this debate could have broken the dead-locked "beer drinker vote" in Pennsylvania.

YOU CAN QUESTION THE TIMING: There was no alcohol involved and the April 27 debate was cancelled right as my post went up. Go ahead, question it.


  1. From your link we learn that only 28% of the people in PA drink beer.

    And we let these people help choose a Presidential candidate?

    Then again, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times* I've had beers in that state. Maybe it's something in the air.

    *Number of beers? I'm pretty sure I drank my age that time visiting friends at UofP.

    Still wasn't that many though. And the cups were small...

  2. From your link we learn that only 28% of the people in PA drink beer.

    Well -- that's 28% of 625 likely Democratic primary voters, not all Pennsylvanians.

    We can hope that a larger percentage of non-Democrats cling to their beer than that.