Now that President Obama has had his beer with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, and James Crowley, the police officer who arrested Gates, I think it’s high time I, as a member in good standing of the League of Gentlemen Adventurers, offered some wild conjecture and totally unfounded analysis of their beverage choices.
The media have given no small amount of coverage to the respective brews in which the president and his guests will partake. For Gates, it will be a Red Stripe. For Crowley, a Blue Moon. Obama will have… I can barely bring myself to type these words — a Bud Light. Why did the pick these beers?
Let’s start with President Barack Obama and his Bud Light. I voted for the man in the Democratic primary and in the general election. I think he is a once-in-a-generation leader. But his choice of beer is so blatantly, transparently political, that my confidence in him is somewhat shaken. Bud Light? He might as well show up wearing a John Deere cap and a work shirt with an actual blue collar – that’s how obvious this attempt to not seem like an arugula-eating, dijon mustard-enjoying “elitist” is. I find it hard, nay – impossible, to believe that a man of Mr. Obama’s character and intelligence sits down at the end of the day, and thinks, “Out of all the beers available in the world” (for certainly he could have almost any of them), “I would find a Bud Light the tastiest and most refreshing.” And if he does think that, that’s even worse.
Now turning to Mr. Henry Louis Gates, and his choice of the Jamaican import, Red Stripe. Red Stripe is not a bad little lager, and I have been know to enjoy this brew from time to time. Plus it comes in a neat stubby bottle. But there is, it seems to me, some artifice in this choice as well. Red Stripe is named after the red strip on the uniform of black nationalist and pan-africanist thinker Marcus Garvey’s personal army. What better choice for a professor whose life work is studying the African diaspora?
And now to Mr. Crowley, and his choice of Blue Moon. To me, the is the most interesting choice by far. The media have made Mr. Crowley out to be a “blue collar” type gent, and yet does he choose the Bud Light that Obama has picked as a working-class signifier? No. He goes with a Belgian-style witbeer – a wheat beer with a low hops content, and flavorings of coriander and orange peel. Yes, one brewed by Coors, but still – Crowley picks a rich, flavorful, complex craft brew. He picks it not to say something to the world about himself, but rather because he enjoys drinking it. And that simple act gives me pride and hope in the direction our country is going. It is, at the very least, going in the direction of better beer, and that is a good thing.