a Fondness For The Bottle
For as long as
there have been politicians in the United States, there
have been politicians with a love of booze. Ben Franklin
is credited with saying 'Beer is proof that God loves us
and wants us to be happy.' George Washington made his
own whiskey recipe. Large portions of the government
structure were talked about over some drinks at City
Tavern in Philadelphia. We know the founding fathers
knocked back drinks, and little has changed over time.
The tie between politicians and booze has continued all
through time. Andrew Jackson welcomed his friends and
family for booze parties during his Presidency in the
early 1800's. Civil War hero and President Ulysses S.
Grant was a famous alcoholic. The Kennedy family, whose
family members have held many key offices in the US
government, made their family fortune from bootlegging.
Not too long ago, transcripts revealed that Richard
Nixon was too drunk to discuss the 1973 Arab-Israeli
In more recent times, many American politicians have
been involved in incidents that were related to their
enjoyment of alcohol. Former President Bush was a viral
video sensation when video was released showing him
drunk in an early 1990's wedding. A 'was he drunk or
wasn't he' debate ensued between the right and left when
Senator Max Baucus of Montana gave an angry, emotional
speech about the healthcare issue. Republicans said he
was drunk, Democrats said he wasn't. Recently passed
Senator Ted Kennedy has a range of alcohol-related
incidents, from a 1970's traffic fatality to a bar
incident in 1989 in New York.
Local politicians get themselves in to even more
trouble. Just in the past few months alone, Miguel
Santana, the man in charge of the Los Angeles budget,
was busted for a DUI. Joining him on the recent DUI list
include Port Orchard, Washington Mayor Lary Coppola and
Wisconsin State Representative Jeff Wood. The list of
local councilmen and officials who have been mixed up
with DUI scandals is quite extensive.
Of course not all officials with affection for booze get
caught up in bad behavior. In 2009, President Obama
famously held a 'beer summit' at the White House to help
settle a dispute between a police officer and a Harvard
professor. They gathered on the White House Lawn and
toasted a brew. Obama, Bush, and other political figures
have been snapped on camera enjoying a beer at various
sporting events. Other political figures have been
snapped at various events with a bottle in hand. This
past May, Congress toasted American Craft Beer Week,
making the government's love of beer official.
Drinking politicians isn't just American. Russian
President Boris Yeltsin was noted for making many public
appearances while being much less than sober. In 2007,
rumors swirled that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was
drunk at the G8 summit.
It's pretty clear that politics and alcohol have gone
hand in hand all over the world for generations!
Remember though -
accidents can happen!
Audrey Tyson 2010